Thank you to everyone who read, shared and commented on the post “Dear MF: Anorexia Could Kill My Daughter”. A special thank you to Allie’s Mom for sharing her powerful and gut wrenching story.
Eating disorders are very real and absolutely terrifying. When I read that letter from Allie’s Mom ( “Allie” is a pseudonym), I couldn’t help but think, “Allie could be my child”.
Allie’s Mom and I are currently working to organize a fundraising event. We want better education, awareness and to raise funds for the local eating disorder clinic at PRHC. Taking the time to read these posts and share them is key to change.
After the last letter, I asked Allie’s Mom, “How should I talk to Allie? How should I talk to you?”
People are so scared and nervous to talk about uncomfortable topics. I wanted some insight, Here is her candid and heartbreaking response.
Living with an Eating Disorder:
By Allie’s Mom
Talking to a person with an ED (eating disorder) is like walking on eggshells.
You need to watch every word you say because their disease causes them to be very confrontational and sneaky. They can take anything you say and twist it around to work with their own agenda.
As a society we’re accustomed to greeting people with “Hey! Great to see you. You look great! Did you lose weight?”.
This implies so many things on so many levels to a person with an ED. You look great! Did you lose weight? These comments reassures what the ED was already telling them: They were fat before and didn’t look good. Now that they’re starving themselves, people are noticing how great they look. In the ED afflicted minds, the self-starvation must continue.
ED are thoughts in a person’s head. Allie called hers Gretchen.
I’m sure there are many nice people named Gretchen out in the world but to me she is the most evil, vicious person that’s ever existed.
She would tell my daughter that she was her best friend. She told her she would never leave her. She would always be with her. Gretchen told Allie, that I was trying to make her fat and I didn’t care about her. Gretchen would tell my beautiful little girl that if she ate more than 100 calories at breakfast or lunch than she was a failure and would gain weight.
When Gretchen was at her strongest I felt like my daughter was possessed by a demon.
Gretchen would make her spit out her saliva because it had extra calories. When Gretchen was around Allie wasn’t allowed to wear sweaters with pockets or shirts with long sleeves because she would find places to hide her food. Napkins at meal times were forbidden. They were the perfect spot to rub peanut butter or any other type of spread on and then be tucked under her plate. Gretchen made Allie sit on the end of her chair with her back straight because she believed she could burn more calories than if she sat relaxed.
Gretchen made Allie give up her rep soccer team. She knew she had to maintain a certain weight to be healthy enough to play. She loved soccer and never missed a try out. But when Gretchen came along, she convinced Allie that losing weight was more important than anything.
Gretchen tried to kill Allie by disguising herself as something that was a constant in her life that would love her unconditionally.
As a parent of a child with an ED, I feel it is my job to help others cope with this horrible disease. My advice is be a stronger presence than the eating disorder. If you think your child has an ED, please don’t ignore it. Take your child to the doctor for a full physical to rule out any other reasons why they are losing weight.
Take the scales out of your homes, and ask your friends and families to do the same. We are not defined by a number on a scale. We need to truly believe this, so our children will too.
Make meal times a family event. We are all busy in today’s world but if your child has the beginning of an ED and you leave it up to them to eat on their own or make their own meals, I guarantee you they will choose not to eat.
If your child has taken up a sudden interest in baking or cooking meals for the family but finds an excuse not to eat what they’ve made, pay attention. This is a serious red flag of an eating disorder. If your child starts wearing baggy clothes and you notice what looks like dried throw up around the sleeves, they could be spitting out their saliva to save calories. This disease takes your honest, kind, personable, high achieving child and turns them into a lying, manipulative, angry shell.
Parents, you are not alone. It’s ok to cry and be scared and lose sleep every night worrying about what your child will do the next day to avoid eating, but you can only do this for so long and then you need to take action.
The longer an ED goes without treatment the harder it is to get rid of. I made the decision to share my daughters story because I am not embarrassed or ashamed of what has happened to her and I don’t want her to feel this way either.
Allie did nothing to cause her disease.
The doctors said she was pre disposed to it. They believe that she is OCD (obsessive compulsive) and has a social anxiety disorder. If she had cancer I would be sharing her story so why not with Anorexia. Both diseases can kill your child. Unfortunately some people think Anorexia should be kept a secret to be fought alone within the family. This approach will not work. To win against an ED you need professional help and you need to stick to the program that is set out by the doctors and nurses. But you also need to talk about it and find a support group or a shoulder to cry on. It was amazing how much better I felt when I was contacted by another mother who knew exactly what I was going through. I will gladly be your support. I can direct you to whoever you need or just listen to your story. Trust me it helps so much to know you are not alone. You need to be healthy and emotionally strong to be able to help your child recover from an eating disorder . There is help, there is healing and there is light at the end of this very dark tunnel. I promise ♥
If you want to connect with Allie’s Mom you can message me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I’m also thrilled to report since Allie’s Mom wrote this, I’ve learned that Allie is trying out for soccer again!!!
Allie you are the helping so many with your story. Thank you. Thank you Allie’s Mom.