I got a call from a friend that I’ve known for a while who is very concerned for her 14 year old niece who has developed a very bad eating disorder over the past year. She has dropped out of school and quit dancing. Her focus is hiding food, not eating, chewing gum and doing what she needs to “feed” her ED.
My friends brother (the dad) is (of course) very concerned, frustrated, scared, upset, angry, confused and at a loss. He has tried talking, yelling and even forcing food on her.
My advice was simple.
- Get her help now. Not tomorrow. Not next week. Today. Right now. You don’t want to have a 42 year old daughter still suffering. Get her the help she needs right now. Luckily there are a lot of resources for teenagers.
- Do not force food on her.
- Do not yell at her.
- Understand it’s a mental illness – she is not rebelling.
- Read. Talk and try and know what you need to about this disease.
- Do everything and anything.
Most importantly – do what you have to right now. Today.
I offered my number to the parents so I can speak from personal experience and offer more resources. Unfortunately I know it all.