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Hi all (especially those who've been down this road for some time) we've hit a pretty major bump in the road here and are looking for advice.

Brief history - d diagnosed at almost 16yrs.
Tried Maudsley for 6 weeks.
Ended up in medical hospital and psychiatric hospital 2 weeks.
Limped along underweight for another year.
Ended up in 4 months residential. Fully WR
Lost some weight at discharge, but maintained for another 1 1/2 years.
Dropped all therapy
gained weight, went to college, 1 hour from home
Weight no longer an issue but still has disordered eating.

Just dropped out of school mid semester (sophomore year) complaining of loneliness.
Refusing to be evaluated or go into treatment. We tried pushing it and she ran from the house for 13 hours.
Stays up all night watching TV, sleeps all day, says she WILL get a job, but makes no progress.

Any "serious" discussion results in her running off.

We've cut back data usage on phone, money in her account. Now contemplating turning off access to internet at night (which covers computer and tv)

I so hate to be in this ME v. HER scenario again. I so want to be on the same page as her but she fights me every inch of the way. I understood her fighting us in AN but who wants to be holed up in her room depressed?

Both my h and I are very non-confrontational and just hate treating her like a child. (She just turned 20). Frankly, we didn't treat her like a child when she was one. Always so mature and competent.

Sorry for being so long-winded. Ideas?

I'm sorry you're going through this.

All I can suggest (and I'm sorry if it isn't any use) is to do whatever you can to get her into a more normal routine without confronting her to the point where she runs off.

We had a similar problem at one point, with sleeping all day and staying up all night. Now, H turns off the internet before we go to bed (he's the last one up). I don't know how your internet works but on ours there is something on the hub that we can remove so that it can't be turned on. H puts the part back every morning.

If you have any sort of leverage with her, use it to get her to go to a doctor.

In terms of her being holed up in her room depressed... from what I've experienced, hiding away from your problems often feels easier than facing the world. When you're overwhelmed, by depression or otherwise, running away from it all provides (short term) relief.

I wish I had more advice.
Hi Optimistic,

Sorry your d. is depressed and has needed to step out of her life to regroup.
Well I have a couple of ideas...just throwing these out there....I don't know your daughter but I do know about depression and have struggled with it every day since my d. was diagnosed.  

Since your daughter is not in imminent danger perhaps you can strengthen your relationship by finding some ways to just enjoy being together for the time being. When you are able to get a little closer to her perhaps she will open up a little more. You have mentioned that she has been treatment resistant before but that you were able to successfully get her in treatment.

My d. is depressed also. I've been finding that planning a fun outing each week together has been helpful and while we are relaxed with each other sometimes she is able to share what she is going through and I can better understand. So far we have gone to an arboretum with a beautiful field of daffodils, seen Zootopia in 3-D, and had a manicure where we both had our nails painted blue. We are planning to go to the Bronx Botanical Garden soon and see the Orchid show. D. has been depressed and reluctant to leave the house when I have suggested these things but somehow I was able to get her to come and she found that when she got out she enjoyed herself. We may also plan a weekend trip away later this spring.

Can you plan a some fun family outings together? Take a walk on the highline in the beautiful spring weather? Visit some museums? See a show? Can you tell her that you know she is going through a difficult time and you understand that she needs to rest a bit and have some quiet time by herself? And say, why don't you take a couple of weeks and relax, and then after that, let's all have a discussion about how best to support you and talk about how you are feeling, and what you might like to do now that you are home? And ask her if she can start thinking about some of those things? 

The problem of course with our YA's is that they need to be on board. But I believe we can help get them there. 

Also, is she on a MLOA or has she left school for good? You may have some leverage if she is on a MLOA, colleges often require that the student be in treatment while they are on leave. 

Best wishes,


Dear Optimistic,

Just when you think you've conquered one problem another one crops up, eh?  It's just not fair.

My personal experience and expertise with this kind of depression is exactly 0, so please just accept these thoughts as a layperson's well-intentioned brainstorming.

From what I've seen with other families, depression doesn't seem to lift on its own, so my guess would be that you'll need to step in.

I'm also guessing that you and h have all the leverage, as she is unemployed. 

Her only leverage seems to be running away, but that is very powerful.  Believe me, that heartache I understand.  My d ran away a couple of times during refeeding, and I still have not recovered from the trauma.  Try to think objectively about her running away.  How serious is that threat, actually? Where was she during that 13 hours?  Does she have friends who will shelter her?  Are drugs involved?  How safe would she be and how long do you think she would stay?  You and H might want to sit down and have a talk about what might happen if she runs again.  It would be good to have plans A, B, and C.

In the Tough family that discussion looked like this.  We didn't plan it or provoke it, but once it happened, H and I weighed it all up and 'allowed' d to stay away. D was flabbergasted that we didn't beg her to come home, giving in to all her demands (ED related, of course). Legally, from the age of 14, kids in our state can leave their families.  We did our research and knew how the police might help within their limitations. We were in communication with her medical team and the authorities. We were able to disable her (ours, since we pay for it) phone. We knew she was safe from harm except for ED.  We cut her off financially.  We made it clear that we loved her deeply and would welcome her back at any time, on our terms.  The family who sheltered her welcomed her very warmly, but we figured it wouldn't be long before she would begin to annoy the mother, become a burden, start to miss us, etc.  It was a calculated risk-- it took a couple of weeks for her to come back.  And she did run away again later.  But in the end love won her over and she is happy, well and home.

So, when you are calm you and h could talk about the running away, understand the weight of the threat, and make plans of action in case it happens again.

And back to your leverage.

Kali and Moonshine both have good suggestions.  I would turn off the WiFi at night, but be mindful that d could possibly run up a big data usage bill on her phone if she decides to. 

Getting d out of the house in low-threat, fun activities is a great idea. Baby steps would be good.  Maybe the first time, just in the car to a drive-through. Then laddering up to more challenging outings.  Also, you know your d best, and could decide if she needs warning to prepare herself, or little lead-up time to minimize anxiety. 

Have you thought of a puppy, kitten or fish tank?  A puppy would have to go to puppy training class and on walks.

Knitting has proven therapeutic benefits. You could start knitting dishcloths or scarves together. Maybe a blanket to donate to the homeless?  Think flat and forgiving projects.

As far as getting her to seek treatment, I would firstly be doing my research to find what I though was the best fit for her.  Then I would be using Motivational Interviewing and gentle motherly influence to help her come around to the idea.  All I know about MI I learned in a webinar (so no expertise here!), but it seemed wonderfully empowering for a YA (our d was too young and ED-disordered for it to be useful at the time).  I googled for you and found links here and here.

I'm sorry you're here.  Do know we are thinking of you.


D in and out of EDNOS since age 8. dx RAN 2013. WR Aug '14. Graduated FBT June 2015 at 18 yrs old. [thumb]
So sorry for all the difficulty. I don't have any brilliant ideas or anything, but I think I remember hearing there's a way to do something with a phone that lets you find where it is, in case she runs. Maybe someone else knows more?

I know she appreciates your love and care even if she doesn't let on. Hang in there. xx

"We are angels of hope, of healing, and of light. Darkness flees from us." -YP 
Thank you. You are all so kind to take the time to give me such thoughtful answers. I am so very grateful.

I was all set to call in a crisis team (which you may do if a patient is refusing treatment), when my h suggested we wait a day. I have a tendency to react (too quickly) and he has a tendency to wait (too long) - it usually works out!

By the afternoon I'd decided we are not truly in crisis (although I dearly would like my d to be in treatment) and took a major step backward. Decided to work on our relationship in a nonthreatening way. (Will also have to work with the school to find another way to get half our tuition back)

She came with me to the nursery to buy plants for her neglected garden. Then we went to see a Great Horned Owl and her nestlings in a nearby park. And then out to dinner.

The next day she got up at 10AM and she went for walk and then gardened. We plan to go to the mall today to have her computer fixed. 

So glad it is spring. I have the time to spend with her and maybe that's better than treatment a couple of hours a week?

Moonshine, I like the idea of turning off the internet at night. My h is thinking about it! In the past she asked me to change the Netflix password because she was having trouble disengaging. She's not asking for that now but maybe would not react too badly? I read somewhere about putting it on a timer (just like the one you use to turn off and on lights). I know that could easily be "fixed" but I don't think my d would be looking for it under our desk.

Kali, my d and I went to the NYBG the day she moved her stuff out of the dorm. The orchid show is unbelievable. Hope you get there! Thanks for all the advice!

OTM - my d just wanders around, I think. Takes the train into NYC. She's got no friends - which is really her biggest problem. She always feels so judged. More than depression (which I feel is a reaction to having trouble with friends) she really needs to learn how relate to others again. Boy, you & and your h really had to put on the big girl pants dealing with your d's running away. Tough times.  I'd forgotten all about Motivational Interviewing! Thanks for putting it back on my radar. I'll read up on it again.

Torie - I'll look into tracing my d by phone. It's an excellent idea.

My stress level has gone way down with this new plan - as has my d's. I do think her biggest issue is an overwhelming terror of being judged! It explains so much. Won't be evaluated. Won't even return overdue library books! She, in turn, is very judgmental. Vicious circle. Any ideas on that one?

Thanks, again.



I am truly in awe of how you turned that around. Going from the extreme stress of her bolting out of the house, disappearing for hours and having the police involved, to her willingness to engage with you and get out of the house. It amazes me that within hours she was getting out to enjoy the spring weather, work in her garden, and spend time with you!

It sounds like you are on the right track and should encourage it all you can (in a relaxed sort of way!)

Oh, skyblue, thanks for the validation! One day at a time!

We went to the mall yesterday & went to the genius bar to have her computer fixed. I thought they were helpful and efficient and she was seething at their lack of professionalism. It's good (and discouraging) to see her interactions in the world. Life is so difficult for her.

Tomorrow the plan is to set up the limits on the internet (setting it on a timer). Wish us luck (we are massively technologically challenged.) Yesterday evening I spent 4 hours watching TV with her and it was fun but felt like way too long to be sitting on the couch. After I went to bed she spent the next 6 hours watching. So unhealthy. 

Thanks again all. We've gone from 70 degrees here to snow. Looking forward to spring again!

Hi Optimistic,

Thinking of you...and wondering how your d. is doing.



It's so kind of you to reach out.

We are sort of hovering around the same place.

D is relaxing big time. Gets up around 12 or 1. Reads, watches shows on her computer.

Won't eat with us. Scurries out of the kitchen when I "catch" her eating.

Did come to her brother's graduation from college. It was a whole day affair, including a small party which was difficult - but she did it!

Has lost weight and looks much more like herself - I think her current weight is just about right for her. She goes for walks on her on.

After consultation with smart friends and attending a few NAMI meetings I've told her that I was sorry that we pushed her hard when she first came home and that she should take the time to figure things out and we can regroup in Sep. She got teary-eyed which I think is a good thing. The only emotion she has been willing to show is anger.

I am, of course, still worried. Her behavior is isolating. But I can't go up against her, at least right now. Her weight is good. She has no self-harming behaviors (I don't think). 

She has always been fiercely independent (pathologically probably!) and me taking away that seems counterproductive.  

Anyway, that's where we are, for better or worse. How is your d doing? What is she up to this summer?

Hi Optimistic

Sorry you are still hovering but hoping your d. will find herself and be ok. I understand your worry, not eating with you, losing some weight, not wanting to be in school, and isolating, and you are so wise to be keeping an eye out for her. At least she is home and you can see firsthand how she is coping.

D. has made great progress since last Fall, but I am still very vigilant and functioning at a pretty high anxiety level. I am starting to feel oh so very slightly cautiously optimistic. It has taken a long time to get to this point.



A very wise friend of mine that I met on the forum told me that AN kids with very anxious parents do worse in recovery (research says) and since then I've worked hard to be more chill. I say this so you can try to bring down your own level of anxiety (easier said than done, I know!)

I know my d is not showing the very best coping skills right now, but maybe this is the best she can do. She is not self harming, self starving. So if she needs to hang around the house, watch too many shows, go on long walks, I am going to try to be as patient as I can be. 

Part of the problem is that AN arrests their development so she's more like a 14 year old than a 20 year old. Her friends have moved on. She'll need to find a new path. So HARD when she won't accept any help! I would hate to be 14! She lost her period for 3 years. It's like she is doing adolescence again. 

But....worse than anxiety is pity (at least with my d) We have so much to be thankful for! My d is living at home. Safe. Pursuing an intellectual life (reads an awful lot of high quality books/magazines). I'm hopeful she is maturing. Learning who she is and what makes her happy. 

This process is teaching me patience. An important lesson for me.  

Wishing you all the best. If you ever would like to meet in person, just let me know.

Hi Optimistic,
Hang in there.
My d is a lot like yours: stays home in the same corner of the family room couch with her phone, computer and tv on.
Is on the verge of losing all her friends who had a successful first year of college while she had to drop out.
They don't seem to understand her depression and the fact that she can't drink alcohol combined with drugs which I am learning is what they do.

I am not sure you need this help because it seems you are managing beautifully on your own, but I took a Family Connections course through this organization.
They do phone workshops, too: http://www.borderlinepersonalitydisorder.com/family-connections/ 

Our d is not really willing to leave the house except for treatment (in week two of a 4-week adult IOP) so outings are not something we can expect to do with her.

We are trying to help her build a life for herself outside the home and to that end we are:
  • encouraging her to take the smallest steps possible each week toward going back to college. She filled out the application but now has to call her former school for the grades. I will encourage her to do that this week.
  • encouraging her to complete court-mandated volunteer work. We are encouraging her to follow through by taking the tiniest step possible, i.e., email the soup kitchen manager to say she'll be back to volunteer. 
  • Encouraged her to add structure to her day so that when she returns to school, she'll be a little more acclimated to daytime versus nighttime.

All best to you! You are doing great!


Optimistic and Francie - 

My d was just home for a week before returning to school for summer school.  One night at dinner she was making a joke about high school and how awful it was. She lost all of her friends, didn't go much of her junior and senior years, never went to proms or graduation and endured social media bullying about her ED.  I said something about how she has built a new and wonderful (and perfectly imperfect) life for herself. She told me that she is proud of herself for doing it and it was the hardest thing she has ever done, even harder than beating ED. (Just her ability to be proud of herself for anything is a HUGE accomplishment.)

I think one of the great injustices of this illness, is that once they beat ED, they are then left with a remnant of a life.  This is especially true for young adults I believe and I know there is stunting of emotional growth that contributes to it. 

We got there though and I know you will too.  It sounds like you are doing great jobs guiding your daughters towards taking baby steps to rebuilding their lives.
Enjoying my 23 year-old daughter's achievement of active recovery that was made possible by the resources and education I found on this forum.

Don't give up hope!
Thank you, Francie & Hopefulmama for your responses.

I just read some of your posts, Francie, bec. I didn't recognize your name. I so appreciate you reaching out. 
It is so tough to see our girls "waste" their time on the phone/computer/TV but then I try to remember what it was like to be young and I think if my mother had allowed it I would have been pretty content to while away the summer floating in the pool reading books. I'd never do that now; I guess we realize how little time we really have!  I don't mean to lessen the pain our girls are in. I know they are. But maybe taking a step out - away from the pressures of school & friendships - is what they need right now. I don't know. But, at least in our house, me exerting pressure seems to have the opposite of the desired effect.

Hopefulmama - I always appreciate your thoughtful and kind responses and am so happy to hear of your d's continued success.