To the Men Who Supported Us in Eating Disorder Recovery
Eating disorder recovery can be a battle. You need to be well-armed with courage, heart, patience and a strong army of supporters. In honor of Father’s Day, we asked our NEDA community members to share how the men in their lives (fathers, brothers, stepdads, grandfathers, etc.) stood by their side in recovery.
Here’s what they had to say:
1. “My dad came to family meetings and educated himself on the disorder. He asked questions. He tried to understand. He was there. That’s all I could ever ask for.”
2. “My dad isn’t one to show emotions or tell you how he feels. When I was in the hospital, no matter how busy he was, he would come every single day and just sit there and hold me. I was in residential for my prom and my dad decided to come and take me out on a pass and go out for dinner and a game. He gave up everything just to visit me, even if there was nothing to say.”
3. “My dad put me to work in his wood shop. It’s important to be completely in the moment for your safety when working about the saws, etc. It was very therapeutic. It’s his hobby and he shared it with me, knowing I needed a mental escape first and foremost. It was the beginning of recovery for me. I’m forever grateful for my dad.”
4. “When I was about 15, I began to develop my eating disorder. My father was also diagnosed with prostate cancer. My whole world was falling apart, but my father has never given up on me. He goes above and beyond to make sure I am taken care of health-wise, [financially] and mentally. Although the past years have been rocky, I am finally recovered from my ED and I couldn’t have done it without him. I love you, Dad.”
5. “He shared with me that he also [struggled with] bingeing and purging as a teen and young adult because of the emphasis on physical appearance in his family. It made me feel understood.”
6. “I have ‘Hope’ tattooed on my wrist. When I put myself back in treatment after a bad relapse, my little brother went out and got ‘Hope’ tattooed on his wrist, an act of both support and love. It was his first tattoo.”
7. “My dad, even while dealing with an ED himself, always ate night snacks with me. He made me feel a little more ‘normal’ and a lot less alone.”
8. “He is my biggest champion. He checks in with me every night to see how my day has been in my fight for recovery. He never judges the bad days, just encourages me to pick my head up and try again.”
9. “My dad came to my family day and participated in all the activities when I was inpatient. He still carries around the coin the program gave him. He shows it to me whenever I see him.”
10. “He gave me unconditional love, always.”
11. “My dad was the silent supporter — he kept me calm during this very rough ride. In the beginning of my treatment, he was there for me by helping to pay for all of my in and outpatient treatments. Today, almost 13 years later, he tells me all the time how beautiful I am inside and out and is always there to lend an ear. He helps me with career advice and is the voice of reason when I am having a bad ED day. I love my dad! Thank you!”
12. “When I began attending school again after treatment, my dad put positive quotes on little sticky notes in my lunchbox. I still have them to this day!”
13. “My dad was actually the one [who] pushed me into treatment. He didn’t care about the cost or how long it would take, he just wanted me to live. I hated him at the time for it, but I’m beyond grateful now. He’s always had the words of wisdom when I’m being irrational and the light on my hard days. I don’t know if I could’ve done it without him!”
14. “My father and I did not have a good relationship prior to, or during my eating disorder. Despite this, he did everything he possibly could to help me, and never once stopped fighting for me. Through my recovery and all our family therapy, I think we both came out stronger, and so did our relationship. If it weren’t for him, I wouldn’t be here today.”
15. “My little brother who isn’t the emotional type said, ‘I don’t want you to die. I’d miss you, [silly].’”
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 Todd Warnock.