F.E.A.S.T's Around The Dinner Table forum

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Hello everyone, 

I have scoured these forums many times over the past several years since my youngest daughter was diagnosed with restrictive AN at age 14 back in 2010. My heart goes out to all of you. EDs really are such devastating illnesses. 

I am here seeking some advise and support regarding our current situation. My daughter is now 21 and as of a couple of months ago living abroad in the US (we are in England, UK) for a year as part of her university degree. 

She was in treatment from age 14-18 with CAMHS, including three hospital admissions. This year she had a bad relapse during her second year at university and had to come home at Easter time and start at a day program whilst living back home with us. She managed to pass her second year somehow and worked incredibly hard with recovery over summer. 

However, since being in America, she has been struggling. I am glad that she is being so honest with me and having daily skype calls, but I am so worried for her. She always dreamed of a life in America and part of the pull for the particular university she attends was the opportunity for a placement in the US. But even she knows that her experience right now is being significantly negatively impacted by her anorexia. I spoke to her last week and suggested she come home. I know that she is incredibly concerned about the large sum of money that would be lost (she is tied into paying $800 rent for the year, plus she currently receives student finance and tuition fees which I admit I am uncertain what would happen with those) and even more so she doesn't want to let myself or her Dad down. 

I have of course stressed to her that there is a solution for everything. However, her constant fluctuating mood makes it difficult. I have every faith in her that she can recover from this illness, and I desperately want her to experience an amazing year in America. Her housemates all sound brilliant and she herself has said that she finally feels she has friends, who she fears she would drift from if she were to come home. 
She has said she has managed to stop some behaviours already, and does want to give recovery away from us another shot. I admit I have not spoken with my partner (her Dad) about her struggling. He was very much adamant she should not go on this placement - for good reason given her track record with relapsing at university in both years 1 and 2, and she never has fully recovered from this illness. 
I do not want to speak with him until I know for sure what to put forward to my D. He is incredibly passionate about D and would be on a flight to the States in a second if he thought for one moment that she was not ok. 

I do not know her weight, but I am going to guess around BMI 15. I want her to be well more than anything. Should I insist she come home? Does anyone have experience with this? 

She tells me she knows of people from online recovery communities who have been in recovery whilst studying abroad and who have managed - how long do I give her to turn things around?
It feels much harder now that she is technically an adult. I know she desperately wants to live her life to the full. But she has been ill for so long now.

Any help would be very appreciated!

From a worried mum x


I am sorry for your situation, which is complex.  However, if you can let us know which part of the US your daughter is in, American parents will come along to recommend treatment centres or doctors who can support your d at this time.

Personally, as scary as it seems, I would do everything to keep her in place where she is - which means keeping her on the plans for her life that she has.  Her bmi is low but she has the self-awareness to know that she is struggling.  If you or her dad can visit, then I strongly urge you to do that.  She needs her family to support her on the ground maybe for a couple of weeks.

I am not getting the impression that money is something you have to worry about, so if you can get treatment supports and practitioners in place in the US, I think it is possible that your d can carry on with her life.  But you have to step in quickly and get supports in place.

Please give us your d's location and we can maybe get things put in place.
Believe you can and you're halfway there.
Theodore Roosevelt.
Welcome to the forum. It sounds like you have had a long battle with your D's illness already, but if she really is at BMI 15 it is likely that she is very unwell. Is it likely she was not fully weight restored when she went to the US? If this is her current weight and she was it suggests a large amount of weight loss in a short period of time. 

It sounds like she needs help now, and if she is struggling and reaching out to you, this to me suggests she needs parental support to help her work on recovery. To recover alone is almost impossible for many. Your options then would seem to be getting her care in the US, and you travelling to help her, and staying with her or close by, or alternately her coming home. She has a life threatening illness, and the sooner this is managed the better. 

My recommendation would be to bring her home, but at the very least she needs urgent clinical and medical assessment whilst there. 
D diagnosed restrictive AN June 2010 age 13. Mostly recovered 10 years later.  Treatment: multiple hospitalisations and individual and family therapy.

Welcome to the forum, and I hope you will get good support here. I'm sorry that your daughter has been struggling for so long. It is so difficult with young adults; we do want them to be able to have hopes and dreams and to try and achieve them, but we also want them to recover and be healthy.

I'm going to assume that since your daughter is attending a US university she has health insurance through the school and can make an appointment with a medical dr. and a therapist there on staff. She could be medically and psychologically evaluated and they could discuss options with her.

In the meantime, in your place, I would be looking into buying a plane ticket and going for an eyes on visit. Depending on what you find when you get there, and any dr. recommendations, you can then make a decision about what to do. A bmi of 15 is terribly low and she would at least need to be under the care of a physician and possibly at a higher level of care or return home if that is deemed appropriate. I really feel for you and her. It is so disappointing for her to have a dream and then have it impacted by this illness.

Know that if she goes out on what they call a medical leave of absence and goes home for treatment, that the university will usually hold the tuition money and if/when she can return, she can then use it. We were in a similar situation and that was how it played out. But you can discuss that with them; it might differ from school to school; you will most likely need to speak with the financial office and her educational adviser and the health center and see how to coordinate it if you need to. It would require a note from a medical professional stating what her diagnosis is and verifying that she is too ill to continue studying at the present time.

She can always sublet or you can find someone else to live in her place if she needs to go home, so don't feel that she is tied into paying rent for the year. 

If you let us know where your daughter is, perhaps there will be some parents who can recommend professionals in the area who your daughter could get in touch with for an evaluation.

Let us know how it goes, 


Gosh, I'm so sorry. Your sweet daughter - it really sucks that this illness targets such achieving, bright girls - and boys. I don't have any better advice than you've already gotten. It might be tough, but a visit to see her and then an objective opinion from a "good" doctor who understands something about anorexia seems like a good step to take before deciding if she can stay here in the States and get help or if she should come home. 

I think it's great that she has been honest with you. That is a win. And maybe a sign that she is hitting a point where she too wants recovery as badly as you want it for her. Please keep us in the loop on what you decide. You sound like a very loving and caring mom. 

19 yo D. AN - since about 15 years old. WR quickly - but the last four years have been tough. Since Sept. 2017, two residential stays, now in IOP, fighting a relapse. ED is hanging on, mental state not great, can't get her to remain at a weight long enough or high enough to see mental healing. She's on a gap year that will likely now turn into two.