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To the Women Who Supported Us in Eating Disorder Recovery

Recovering from an eating disorder is no easy feat, and often takes time, patience and a healthy support system. This Mother’s Day, let’s celebrate the moms, sisters, friends and other relatives who have helped us on our journeys to lasting eating disorder recovery.

We asked NEDA community members to share how the women in their lives supported their recovery. Check out 13 of their responses below:

1. “My mother was my rock. She helped me in ways I will probably never understand. She was the one who got me to confront that I had a problem, she slept in the hospital when my heart rate was too low and she helped me confront my fears, but gave me the time to heal and grow on my own. She was always around to help me find food that made me comfortable and went out of her way to support me in the weight gaining days. It has been almost two years since cancer has taken her, and I would like to think she would be proud of my recovery from my eating disorder, and the person I have become without the label.”

2. “My mom is my best friend, my mentor and my role model. But there was a time when I deeply resented my mom because I was sick. I was sick with anorexia, but in denial. I rejected any thought or idea or concern that came close to the reality of admitting I had an eating disorder. So, for a time in our lives, it was not easy being [with] my mother. But without her, I wouldn’t be in recovery for my eating disorder today. She was persistent and courageous and resilient and compassionate, no matter the amount of times I pushed her and treatment and help away. Thank you for everything, Mom. You are a glorious human, and I love you so.”

3. “I had no support when it all first started. But when my little sister found out about it, she took everything into her own hands. She began to cook my meals, analyze my moods, train me and even counted seconds every time I went to the bathroom. She never let me sit alone and cry. She always made sure I talked, talked and talked until I felt better. She’s guided me through breakdowns, panic attacks and binges. She’s incredible. She might not know it, but she saved my life.”

4. “Mom went to therapy with me, and paid my way through therapy to work with the rock star therapist who saved my life. The credit goes to not only my therapist, but my mom, dad, sister and my pups. I couldn’t have done it without any of them. [In my experience] family support is everything in treatment. I wouldn’t be alive today if it weren’t for them.”

5. “Mom’s never, ever judged me. Not when I asked her for help for the very first time, not when I explained to her the thoughts going through my head, not when I cried at Christmas and not all the times I’ve been so hungry I’ve needed her to pull the car into the next gas station. Even when she doesn’t understand, she still doesn’t judge me. This makes me feel brave, strong and autonomous, and it helps heal at my own pace and of my own free will.”

6. “My mom visited me every day in the hospital (an hour away) after work. Right before recovery, my parents divorced, and my mom and I moved states away. She was all I had. She comforted me during the panic attacks, and she was tough on me when I obviously needed help. She drove me to my intensive outpatient treatment center every morning before work, and made a point to sit down with me and the other girls and their parents and ate breakfast with me. She was my rock and my support system. I could not have done it without her.”

7. “My mother-in-law made dinner every night when I came home from the hospital and made sure she covered everything I needed for my meal plan and had my husband and me over every night for a family dinner.”

8. “My mom, who also struggled with an eating disorder in her youth, has been pushing me to eat a healthy amount of healthy foods. She listens to me and helps me and prays for me and even when I skip a meal, she supports me and tells me I’m doing well. I love her so much.”

9. “At first, I had to create new boundaries with my mother, space to develop and rediscover myself on my own. Now, my mother is the person I can talk to about anything in recovery – she knows when I am struggling and she is a constant source of sending me strength and always telling me I am enough and that she believes in me.”

10. “My mom wasn’t there for me with my eating disorder, but my sister was. She knew deep down what was happening but she taught me how to cope and how everything would fall into place again. I love my sister and I wish she was still here today.”

11. “My sister (who is basically my mom) has helped me in every step of my recovery. Even through the frustration and the tears. She helped me get into treatment multiple times and guided me in the direction of recovery. She always did her best to make me feel beautiful and reminds me I always need to put my mental health first. She has pushed me out of my comfort zone many times which has enabled me to grow into the person I am today. I don’t know what I would have done without her.”

12. “My sister and I are both recovering. We text each other self-love reminders on bad days, remind each other how beautiful we both are and how rich our lives are. We also share inspirational Instagram accounts with each other to help with the constant reminders. She is always a rational voice in my head.”

13. “My mom helped me by getting me treatment [and showing me] endless love and strength. I’m a competitive dancer who was diagnosed with a mix of bulimia and anorexia, but that did not stop me. My mom made me feel comfortable in my own body. One of my old therapists told me I was never going to lose weight because of my ethnicity. And that’s what started this, but my mom told me never to give up – she is my role model. She taught me to love my body just the way I am and not to care what anyone else says. My validation is the only validation I need. Thanks, mom.”

If you or someone you know is struggling with an eating disorder, you can call the National Eating Disorders Association Helpline at 1-800-931-2237.

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Thinkstock photo via kikovic.