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

Welcome to F.E.A.S.T's Around The Dinner Table forum. This is a free service provided for parents of those suffering from eating disorders. It is moderated by kind, experienced, parent caregivers trained to guide you in how to use the forum and how to find resources to help you support your family member. This forum is for parents of patients with all eating disorder diagnoses, all ages, around the world.

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I'm in my early twenties and my elder sister has been suffering with ED starting approx 10 years ago, and the last 5 years it's come to a head. She's recovering, maintaining weight and is able to hold down a job and live alone but she has placed restrictions of what she can't eat - gluten, wheat, dairy, etc, and certainly does not have a healthy attitude towards food (and I doubt she ever will). My parents facilitate this as much as possible because obviously they want her to ear something, but I can't help thinking that it'd be healthier in the long run for her to be given what we are eating and just it be a 'normal' meal, not specially prepared, with mum spending nearly 3 hours hunting for a specific flour, and how much she eats be up to her. I find it very difficult to cope with when we're together as a family - the way her ED made her behave made it very difficult to like her sometimes and it nearly destroyed us a family - my grandparents almost cut her off (they didn't really understand the eating disorder as an illness, and we didn't tell them everything that was going on), it's threatened my parent's marriage and almost destroyed their chance to be happy, and I had a breakdown about eighteen months ago because all of the resentment and anger that I'd let build up overwhelmed me.

I feel guilty because my sister has to deal with this in her life every single day - it's ruined what should be the most exciting tie of her life, but it also has had a massive impact on my family and me and I don't think she realises it. She's still very self absorbed (I know it's the ED that's doing it), but it makes me so angry when she doesn't really thank my parents for going out of their way, or just expects us to drop everything and change our plans for her. My mum and dad still treat her like a child (because she does act like one) and it's really frustrating to see her say how she can't do certain things (phone to make appointments, deal with car insurance etc for example) and yet happily goes out to parties with her friends and is happy to do social things when it suits her. She's older than me but I've felt like the big sister for a long time, and I feel like the only way to help her sometimes is to leave her to have to do it herself like everyone else does. It's like the ed has put her emotional development on pause and everyone's too scared what'll happen if we change that. What happens when my parents are 80 and are still sorting everything out for her? I get angry because I feel like I have to be the 'OK' one when actually I want to scream at her sometimes and actually not be ok. I feel awful because we were always really close but sometimes now I can't bear to be in the same room. I love her as she's my sister, and I'm so scared ill say something that will reverse all the progress she's made when I'm angry but sometimes i find it really hard to like her. Her ED has all but torn this family apart and now it's getting better I feel as though we should all be happy and I'm overreacting, but I can't just pretend it never affected us.

I'm sorry for the long post but I really needed to talk to someone.
Welcome to the forum. ED's are tough on the whole family. You are not alone in feeling that your sister's ED has taken control of the whole family. I have also heard of other siblings feeling that their parents should have done other things with the ED. It is great that your sister appears to be getting better. Is there anything we can help you with?
D diagnosed restrictive AN June 2010 age 13. Mostly recovered 10 years later.  Treatment: multiple hospitalisations and individual and family therapy.

Dear K123ub,

It is truly very difficult for the siblings of someone suffering with an ED. When someone gets an eating disorder it affects the entire family. And unfortunately the sufferer often doesn't realize the effect they have on others—or might feel like a burden if it were discussed openly. 

Try to take good care of yourself and think of some things you might be able to do which you would enjoy.  I understand your worry and frustration with your sister. If you don't already have one, can you find a therapist to speak with?

Her ED has all but torn this family apart and now it's getting better I feel as though we should all be happy and I'm overreacting, but I can't just pretend it never affected us.  

Sometimes after an especially difficult time, it takes awhile to heal and get over it. I'm glad your sister is doing better now...so maybe you can focus on yourself and the things that can make you happy and satisfied with your life. I would imagine, as a parent, that your mom and dad might feel guilty that they were not able to give you more attention while your sister was ill. Perhaps plan some enjoyable things with them without your sister, and spend some time together?

And yes, you are right, the point of recovery is to normalize eating and not have to spend hours searching for special food, etc. and there are ways to work with someone to do that. If you search for fear foods on this forum, you will find some different things which families tried to help their loved ones normalize their eating. Perhaps your mom and dad would benefit from looking at the feast site:


and reading some of the posts by parents on the message board?

You don't have to like your sister all the time and you are allowed to be angry at what has happened in your family. 



Hi K123ub.
Sorry about this difficult situation, its so hard.
I am a lurker at this forum and in a similar situation. If you are still around and would like to talk about this please let me know.