The Problem with Tough Love in Eating Disorder Recovery

When I talk to people who lived through my anorexia with me, the overwhelming theme is that people didn’t know how they could help me.

They felt their hands were tied. They saw their friend/daughter/sister rapidly wasting away right before their eyes, and they felt helpless.


They didn’t know how to get through to me. They didn’t want to say the wrong thing and trigger a blow up or melt down. And yet they wanted to express their concern.

Meanwhile, I was pushing everyone away, withdrawing from the world, so that I could be alone with my eating disorder, not having to show my friends how sick my mind really was.


And people had their different approaches. Some worked. And some definitely didn’t.

But looking back, I’ve come to realize that above all else, there is one thing that is paramount when it comes to dealing with eating disorder sufferers. And that is tough love vs. tender love.

And I think my perspective will surprise you.

I think there is a grave misconception about eating disorders. That the girl (or boy) just needs some “sense” knocked into her. She’s choosing to starve herself for vanity reasons, or “for a guy” or whatever. She just needs to be set straight. Enter: tough love.

You take away privileges. Ground her. Threaten with consequences. Maybe you’ll even go as far as drawing up court papers to turn her over to become a ward of the state.

Not that I would know anything about that…

But here’s why none of those tactics ultimately work:

They are feeding into the self hatred that fuels her eating disorder. That lack of compassion – that toughness – is exactly what she thinks she deserves. 

I wish I could express to you what the mindset is like for someone in the throes of anorexia. Because spoiler alert: it is a desolate place full of fear and obsession, and an underlying abhorrence of self.

Just to give you a glimpse: there were nights that I would sleep on the floor, feeling that I didn’t deserve to sleep in my bed.

There is nothing gentle, everything is harsh — inflicted willingly on the self.

I would only shop at Goodwill. I would torture myself with grueling exercise routines. I’d walk through bakeries, and tempt myself with the smells of foods I would never allow to cross my lips.

I saw to it that my life was a living hell. After all, that’s where I believed I belonged.

So…tough love was exactly what I thought I deservedOf course my loved ones were acting as though they were emotionally unavailable…because that’s exactly what I should be receiving.

If there is one thing your daughter or friend needs, it’s tendernessGentleness. Which, I know is hard to even fathom, as you look at your loved one, and not recognize the angry, hollow shell of who she once was. But now is when she needs that compassion more than ever.

And when it’s life or death, I know that words can get the best of you, and emotions run high, and sometimes we utter things in the heat of the moment that can be hurtful or too harsh. That’s to be expected.

But soft love is crucial. Tenderness, patience, gentleness is so foreign to her, and yet vital to her healing.

She needs to be reminded what that feels like.

I remember for probably about 2 years during my disease, I wouldn’t let anyone touch me. No hugs. No foot rubs. No gentle touch. I was too ashamed of my skeletal body, I didn’t want anyone to feel the sticks beneath my baggy Goodwill sweaters.

Can you imagine? I lived it, and I can’t imagine not being touched for two years. And that’s coming from a virgin…

There is a time and a place for tough love.

And yes, there are probably times when it seems like the only solution. An intervention, for one. But even that can be finessed with the gentleness she needs. Because it’s true, there are some decisions that she is incapable of making in her present state that you will need to make for her – like going to inpatient. But find the grace to be gentle and compassionate rather than slip into Stone Cold Steve Austin mode.

Her journey to recovery is going to involve learning how to love herself.

The greatest gift you can ever give her is showing an example of just how to do that.

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BBB: Because we’re all recovering from something. // For speaking/business inquiries: beautybeyondbones@yahoo.com

209 thoughts on “The Problem with Tough Love in Eating Disorder Recovery

  1. “…if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness.” Galatians 6:1. Our efforts to restore others must always come from a place of tenderness.

  2. another home run. A very good friend of mine is going through your struggle with his daughter. He is a very compassionate caring father, terribly worried about her and has told me how complex eating disorders are. You really are inspirational in your strength

    1. Aw thank you so much. I’m so sorry to hear that your friend is going through this with his daughter. I will definitely keep him and his family and daughter in my prayers. Hugs and love xox

  3. Well, wow! I don’t know quite where to start other than to say this is some advice that is very timely, believe it or not. And it leads me to what I hope is not too stupid a question: Would it be fair to say that anorexia is a “distant cousin” to depression? I ask because I don’t know that self-loathing is the same as depression, but I’d think that there are strong elements of depression in that, right? Maybe, with your answer, I’ll have something to comment with. First, your answer, a listen at Patreon, then maybe some thoughts.

    1. Hey Jeff! Thanks 🙂 oh really! I’m glad it’s timely. Yes I would definitely say that they’re distant cousins for sure. Strong elements indeed. Perfect-just uploaded the podcast. Thanks Jeff 🙂 hugs!

  4. Your gorgeous so I won’t use the full quote, but you reminded me of a character in a book who said “Love me and you shall see! All I wanted was to be loved for myself.”
    While sometimes tough love is necessary, gentle love should always be tried first. Some people need a hug, and assurance of love, even more than they need food.

    1. oh gosh, thank you so much. what an incredibly kind thing to say. and what a powerful quote – definitely brought up some feelings inside! you’re right – never underestimate the power of a hug 🙂 hugs xo

  5. Thank you for sharing this! I really needed to hear this as I walk through parenting with my daughter. Thanks as always for sharing of your life and struggles

  6. Some new insights there and thanks for sharing what is a very private experience with us all. My admiration for you grows with each of your honest blogs. There is so little honesty in the world. Your sharing causes me to sit and introspect. What habits do I nurture which are self-destruct, how do I penetrate the wall of self- deception we erect and deal with each problem to be addressed. So while eating disorder is what you are addressing there are other self-destruct habits we get into which need an honest look inside and the courage to deal with those issues. 🙂

    1. gosh thank you so much Ian. What a kind thing to say. That’s so true – we’re all dealing with our own “things.” And it’s nice to know that we’re all in this together 🙂 thanks for stopping by. Hugs and love xox

  7. Thanks for sharing this Caralyn. My son, although he’s not dealing with anorexia, is constantly obsessed with eating very little and weighing himself every chance he gets. He’s only 13 years old and growing fast; I’m stressing to him the importance of eating in relation to his growing body and trying to figure out how he can eat more healthy. Your post really helps me in trying to figure out how to go about approaching hims and dealing with this before it escalates into something worse.

    1. Hey Mark, thank you so much for sharing that. I will definitely keep your son in my prayers. Growing up and changing bodies are always tough to navigate. glad this was some help 🙂 Hugs and love xox

  8. Thank you for this gentle, compassionate and insightful post. I lost a friend to an eating disorder a few years ago. She was my best friend in primary school, but we lost touch, and sadly her heart wasn’t strong enough to carry her through. What you are sharing is so important. I’m sure people who are friends or family members really need this insight into what it is like, although I am sure each person has a very individual experience of their eating disorder. I hope you are doing well, and recovering, what you have shared may help change someone’s life. God bless. xx

    1. oh friend, I am so sorry to hear that. gosh, how truly tragic. that breaks my heart. thank you for your kind words. keeping you and your friend’s family in my thoughts and prayers. hugs to you xox

  9. Great insight and information. Totally understand why gentle love would be more helpful over tough love. Talking about touch brought up a memory for me of trying to comfort someone (a close family member, not a stranger or acquaintance) at a visitation the night before a funeral, and she stepped away from me. I took it personally at the time but this is a new perspective for me to consider. I wondered if you have thoughts about how family members can help when the sufferer is a bit abusive and controlling, and when you feel you have to walk on eggshells or she will explode and yell abusive insults? When she’s so abusive it tears at your own self-worth and is upsetting to you? It’s hard to know if these are two separate issues, the anorexia and the abusiveness, or if it’s a big complicated ball.

    1. thank you so much for sharing this, PJ. you’re right, each case is individual, and people deal with it very differently. I would say (in my obviously unprofessional opinion) that the lashing out is definitely her way of trying to protect the eating disorder. it doesn’t make sense to someone on the outside, but sufferers will go to any length to guard and protect that which is literally destroying them. They want the eating disorder more than their health, their future plans, their school, their passions, and sadly, their relationships. But just know, on the receiving end, that this behavior is not her, but it’s her eating disorder, and try to mentally separate the two – which I know is a lot easier said than done. But try and have patience. And when she starts to get abusive, just calmly remove yourself from the situation – step outside or into the other room, give her a minute to calm down, and then try again. I do hope that helps. keeping you and yours in my prayers. hugs xo

      1. Thank you for your thoughtful reply. It gives me a lot to consider as I look back on things. I appreciate your insights and willingness to share. It is perplexing to those of us that watch our loved ones suffer, and it’s complicated to figure out how best to help. Definitely a lot to consider.

  10. Thank you for sharing. I struggled with disordered eating as a teen. I agree there can be so much self-loathing underneath the behaviors, and that compassion is a vital piece for anyone trying to act as a support person.

  11. This was so good, brought back some brutal memories. Sadly the gentleness is something I’m still trying to connect with and apply. My family’s love language is Tough haha. Such a good reminder. Congratulations on your book! Can’t wait to read it. ❤️

  12. Reblogged this on Reflection Cube and commented:
    Inspiring post on anorexia by BeautyBeyondBones. If you replace “anorexia” with “depression”, I also find these words to fit beautifully within that context.

  13. You are obviously living in the light, and sharing your important message with others as a gift; thank you for that. I have not had an eating disorder, (other than eating too much!) but I did staff an eating disorder group at a hospital many years ago, so that is my experience with this. I applaud you for your honesty and courage, and am pleased to connect with you.

  14. You are so right about the self-hatred piece. I was one who had parents who were ill equipt to handle the feelings that my disorder brought up for them, and the response I received from them was distancing and rejection (more tough than love for sure). This fed so much into my disease, where the voices in my head told me I deserved their reaction and then some. I was unlovable even to my own family. I was unworthy of even the most basic of human comforts. Obviously one needs to avoid enabling, but “tough love” just doesn’t seem the way to go at all.

    1. Thanks so much for sharing your story. I’m so sorry you went through that. you *are* worthy of that love and comfort 🙂 i really appreciate you stopping by and for your honesty. sending you the biggest hugs xox

  15. Thank you so much for sharing your story with us! Thank God he has delivered you and you’re on your way to better days in Jesus Name! God bless you! 😊😇

  16. This post makes me want to hug you right now. Thank you for being so incredibly honest in sharing your journey. You are helping SO many people. XO, Lynda

  17. I find the self-loathing, self-hatred, shame, and feeling like you don’t deserve kindness or love is a common thread with many that manifests in many self-harm or self-neglect manners. Rarely does the person need tough love. They often need to be shown how to love themselves. So this resonates deeply for many, not just those with eating disorders. So often I’ve begged for tough love from my partner because I think I deserve that and he instead is kind and gentle. It’s like a shock to my system. Completely unexpected. And it usually makes me burst into tears. But good tears. Those are the times when he’s reached me most. He’ll tell me, “Show yourself the compassion I’m showing you, ” and I grow. Accountability is vital but it can come with gentleness.

    1. sorry pressed send too soon! I’m really glad this resonated with you. You’re right – gentleness is so so important when it comes to learning to love yourself and loving yourself through the healing process. thanks for sharing your story. big hugs to you xox

  18. I don’t think I’ve had an eating disorder (my mother may disagree) but I know exactly what you are talking about concerning tough love. I found out that’s one reason I have trouble trusting people when they show me unconditional love, because I had learned to expect tough love and that’s what I thought I deserved. I didn’t think I should be loved no matter what, so I doubted it if and when it came. So I wholeheartedly second your cry for gentleness and tenderness for those who are falling apart. It makes a world of difference.

      1. If you’d like to hear more about my story, here’s a link to a new, more personal blog. http://wp.me/p99lAx-w I’m not posting it on Minnie Musings as I would prefer to keep some content from certain eyes, but share it individually with those who seem like-minded. I’ll be praying for you and hope you can do the same for me as we heal together.

  19. Thank you for the insights. You have provided an “Open” dialog to where problems tend to reveal themselves. Honesty is key to reaching closure. Accepting the reality keeps you on the track. You have much to offer us and we are blessed because of your candor. Continue on with your great works.

  20. This was so interesting to read, from your perspective. I don’t think I’ve mentioned to you before that my mom had severe depression and anorexia. The thing that was different is she was in her late 40s, early 50s when she had anorexia. At that time, I was a teenager, my late teens. I was a regular, self-absorbed teen, and had no idea what my mom was going through or why. I remember her telling me that not eating was something she could control and it felt good to be in control. She was so, so skinny and it scared me to see her like that. Looking back, I wish I was more in-tune to what was going on with her. I think I tried to pretend it wasn’t happening, basically to ignore it. I didn’t know what to do. I remember gaining weight myself, I guess because I was over-compensating for her lack of eating. Not sure where I’m going with this, but your post made me think of that time and how badly she must’ve been hurting. Thanks for your insight on this! xx

    1. Hi Jenny, thank you so much for sharing your story. i’m so sorry to hear that your mom battled depression and anorexia. i can’t imagine what it must have been like to see your mom going through that. thank you for your kind words. sending the biggest hugs xo

  21. I have found that this also applies for anxious/agitated depression and anxiety. Some of my posts relate experiences of this that I have undergone. And that led to self-harm, with everything negative being deserved. And I truly appreciate you speaking out, as many people hear you. You have an amazingly strong and beautiful voice in a world of oppression. Thank you, sincerely.

  22. Caralyn:

    Sorry to divert attention from your beautiful post. I agree with you whole-heartedly.

    But could I direct your attention to the post I just put up? I understand that many displaced Puerto Ricans are arriving in New York. If you have a point of contact with those in need (perhaps through Catholic Relief Services?) I would greatly appreciate a reference.

    Thanks

    Brian

    1. Hi Brian, thanks for your question. unfortunately, i don’t know off hand of any contacts. I’m sure the Red Cross, or Salvation Army would have resources. I’ll look into it and let you know. thanks so much for raising awareness with your post. big hugs xox

  23. it’s the demon – aka Ana – that tells victims they are undeserving – interesting how Ana told you to go into shops and look at food but not buy it – that;s just what my daughter was told to do by her demon – it must be an exercise the demons collectively decided on (they work in teams ) to strengthen victims resolve not to eat.
    Loved ones must over ride and fight the demon /Ana because the anorectic can’t they are too scared – but Ana is scared of Jesus terrified in fact and Jesus is our best resource against anorexia

    1. That’s so true. SO true. I also believe that And – or ED – is the evil one. Jesus really is the only way!! Praise God for that and for His deliverance! How’s your daughter doing? 🙂 Hugs and love xox

  24. You show great insight in this post, and express it well. Finding the right way to express tenderness so that the sufferer is able to experience it as reality is terribly difficult, but it can be done.

  25. The Lord has gifted you with an appetite for Spiritual Truth.
    And the Shepherd who hand feeds us all with Bread from Heaven and Living Water
    has blessed you as well with a talent to serve others. Thank you.

    1. Hey Gary! Gosh, what an incredibly
      Kind thing to say. Thank you. To God be the glory. I am truly touched by this. Thank you with all my heart. You’re a good friend! Hugs and love xox

  26. Beautiful post. I’ve heard it said that those who are the toughest to love need our love the most. And I would say the kind of love they need is compassionate love, the kind our Savior has for each one of us.

  27. Thank you for sharing that dear. It’s difficult for many people to understand what women go through over their bodies. I had the opposite problem. I was somewhat overweight as a teenager, but for me, I was huge, and so began a constant dieting, letting go cycle that lasted me most of my life. Here I am 61, and finally taking control and getting fit, but not to obsession. We do this, because we are often told by society that a woman is what her appearance is. If we are beautiful, if we are not beautiful, society judges us by that. I’m glad you were able to overcome this. You do have a beauty beyond your bones, and every woman should learn that! Best wishes….

    1. Thank you so much Pamela. Gosh I am so touched by your kind words. And I really appreciate you sharing your story. You have such a beautiful heart and thank you for sharing it with me! Hugs and love xox

  28. “You just need a hamburger and some scotch bethany and you will be fine.” No what I really needed is validation, acceptance, and unconditional love, then I could have faced my struggles and not been alone. I have slept on the floor many a day…

  29. I am reminded of the Bible verse: Who did sin, the blind man or his parents (to bring this evil down upon him)? I figure I most have done some whelp of a job making someone mad in a previous life to get what I deserved here…For me, it’s frightening to believe in a God. It’s as though He’s the one who wants me to suffer.

  30. I enjoyed reading your post and have had a few friends with eating disorders. I have found that tough love while it can have its place is not effective. I have found that tender love helps more.

  31. Your description of “tough love” does not match what I know of that. What you describe is just the usual attempts at control via punishment. I don’t really know what would help people with eating disorders, but I’m sure punishment is not part of it.

  32. This is so true. The self hate is so strong that what we need (no matter the type of eating disorder) is love. My mom was/is always there to love me at all times and support me when I felt nothing but self loathing for myself. I am so thankful that I am over that self hate now and am finally moving on to a more healthy mindset regarding my body and being healthy.

  33. Thank you for your blog. I have struggled with an eating disorder for over 20 years. It took me until March of 2016 before I admitted to my trauma therapist what I was doing. Starving myself. Being on medications that caused me to gain weight I was able to do it and not get down to the bone. But I was so tired and losing the battle. I had done this off and on for 20 years. I don’t really have any support except my nutritional therapist who I only get to see twice a month. No one else gets it, not even my trauma therapist – he’s a guy..Understands it. Why I do it. I’m getting better and eating more and no one’s threatening to send me inpatient anywhere, but I measure everything I eat with a scale, or tbsp, or measuring cup. It affects my social life because I don’t eat out anywhere b/c I don’t know what’s in the food or how many calories or fat is in it. Even if they list it, you never know. But I can’t explain that to people. If I tell them I have an eating disorder they look at me like I’m a foreigner. I’m glad you “liked” my blog so I could find yours. I needed it. Thank you.

    1. Thank you so much for sharing your story. I’m sorry this hits so close to home. I believe in you Susan. Maybe you could find a different therapist who specializes in what you need? Just a thought 🙂 thanks for stopping by. Hugs and love xox

      1. I need my trauma therapist to help me with my larger matter of dealing with years of sexual assault and abuse. Two therapists just doesn’t work. It’s just how it goes.

      2. Oh I see. Well I’ll definitely keep you in my prayers. Maybe you could talk to your therapist about how his comments affect you, and together you can work towards some healing 🙂

      1. hi… thanks for your constant support by liking my posts. You really encourage me to continue to write article that help other persons with their faith. well… I am sending you a small gift… use this coupon code KB67E (not case-sensitive) to download my ebook for FREE ‘HEAL MY WOUNDS’. You can download this book till the 19 October 2017 from the following link: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/706572

        i hope that you like this gift. God bless you and continue with your positive writings. reagrds… george

  34. My mother suffers from anorexia. As did her sister and her mother. There are times to this day where I honestly go through the thought “if only I had the willpower.”

    I mention this because I studied this to ty and get a better understanding of her and myself. I to this day don’t know how to help my mother who has bouts of it still. I to this day don’t understand my desire to do something I know I shouldn’t. That I know better about.

    Tough love never crossed my mind about this. I always got the feeling that those suffering from this were tough enough on themselves.

    Does it mean I don’t worry or get frustrated. No. I do. But I continue to try and support because I understand it’s needed.

    1. Thank you so much for sharing your story. I’m so sorry to hear that you mother I going though this. I will definitely keep your mom and you in my prayers. It sounds like you are a real blessing to her 🙂 thanks for stopping by! Hugs and love xox

  35. Do little things with great love. What wonderful words as I lay here in my hospital bed, enduring terrible pain from my knee replacement. I am the recipient of these little things with great love. Several of my fellow bloggers As i lay

    As I lay here in pain, I discover many of my fellow bloggers have shared my GoFundMe account and I am receiving small but loving donations. These small
    amounts have as much and more meaning to me as winning a lottery would. Small amounts?
    NO! Great love? YES!!!! Hugs & Love, xoxo

  36. God has and will continue to bless you through this; your sharing will save another one day. May you smile today and believe your are the beloved daughter of God, who delights in you!

  37. Wow – I couldn’t imagine. I am sorry that you went through that but there is a silver lining. It has made you who you are today. Well, that and God. His plan – His Will and look where you are now. Look what you have done for others. Just by “being” and “sharing” you. Depression has it’s dark places as well and I guess they go hand in hand but we all must realize that we do deserve the good things that life has to offer. What God has to offer – we shall inherit as long as we accept Him and His plans. Great job Caralyn!!!!! Thanks for the article.

  38. A beautifully raw, but tender, post Caralyn. Thank you for helping those who feel so lost…not knowing “what” to do for those they love…to recognize what may truly be needed most. Hugs & continued blessings!

  39. Hi BBB,

    I pray your thoughts of what could have helped you will be heeded by those who need it now.

    Gary

    On Mon, Sep 25, 2017 at 4:02 PM BeautyBeyondBones wrote:

    > beautybeyondbones posted: “When I talk to people who lived through my > anorexia with me, the overwhelming theme is that people didn’t know how > they could help me. They felt their hands were tied. They saw their > friend/daughter/sister rapidly wasting away right before their eyes, an” >

  40. […] Just recently I read an article from another blogger who writes a blog called Beauty Beyond Bones that talks about what was helpful to her when she was fighting anorexia.  It is almost the mirror image of what I am writing about.  The Problem with Tough Love in Eating Disorder Recovery  […]

  41. Thanks for sharing this. I have a friend I worry about and never know what to do… she is talked about behind her back because of her “issue…” I’m just trying to walk with her and encourage her, but I just never know how to help her besides that and prayer. But I know food consumes her thinking almost every moment and she has a lot of anxiety. Any suggestions??

    1. Thanks so much. That’s so tough. Honestly I’d talk to her about your concern. And this is actually why I wrote my book: it is a terrific resource for loved ones to give to someone they’re concerned about. I’ll definitely keep your friend in my prayers. Hugs and love xox

      1. Thanks! Yes, I’ve been thinking of purchasing it and giving it as a gift to her, I just don’t know how she’d receive it… But thank you, especially for your prayers for her! She needs Jesus, too! 🙂

  42. There are so many negative thoughts attached to eating disorders. Many see it as a condition inflicted upon oneself willingly and thus end up blaming the sufferers. Your posts (and your book) are eye-openers and I hope it reaches a wide spectrum.

  43. This is so right! There is a time and place for both. The tough can be used, but the tender cannot be forgotten. You are a beautiful gift that keeps on giving God’s light. I’m glad you received the tender as well as whatever tough was given. Hugs and love always!! xoxo

  44. Is this the post that caused all the negative backlash? if it is then I cannot understand people.I have stress and depression and I am mildly OCD. A result of all of that – and sometimes I think one feeds (no pun intended) the other – is that I tended to overeat when I was younger. I still do, although not to the same extent that I used to.

    I think you are a very brave person, and that God is blessing you and others through your blog. To now that there are others out there in the real world going through mental health issues, and making it to the other side, well, it’s wonderful.

    God bless you and keep on keeping on. You’re doing well.

    1. Hi David, thank you for your reflection and for sharing your story. Thank you for your kindness. This was actually. It the post in reference. The one I was referring to was called “more than a gun.” Thanks for stopping by 🙂 Hugs and love xox

      1. That makes more sense, lol. I admit to initial confusion of thoughts on your post. Certainly we should be able to pray for those hurt in atrocities. My initial thought was also about banning such weapons.

        There is also a difference in outlook between those in the US and elsewhere in the (western) world about guns ďgun control. There is a difficulty in understanding the US gun lobby, and the right-wing US viewpoint.

        However, you are not being cursed by God because of your views. On this or anything else. That is my sincere belief.

        As I said earlier. Keep on doing what you do.

  45. You are an interesting girl. And a very beautiful one. One of the few who still makes me feel like I can again fall in love. Just started reading your blog. I was trying to imagine myself in such situation you described in the post. I understand it but may be it’s hard to fathom how it truly feels when you are through it. I just wonder, how would it be to put oneself in a completely different struggle, completely vertical to one’s situation to give one a completely different perspective or shatter one’s reality. At least it works for me sometimes. What I mean is that (hypothetically) if you have an eating disorder, how about you go to Somalia or some distant jungle of North Korea for few months and see that they are eating clays and muds and sometimes human flesh because there’s no food and see how they are dying and how they crave for food, but they just don’t have it. I just wonder such drastic experience whether changes one’s physical phenomena through psychological blow. But the underlying thing is, given our physical limitations, it’s our mind through it’s creative power delude us all the time. So, some shattering is needed. But may be if it’s deeply physical and genetic, there’s no rescue from the suffering.

  46. Huge thank you: “They are feeding into the self hatred that fuels her eating disorder. That lack of compassion – that toughness – is exactly what she thinks she deserves.” So true!

  47. Oh, this so resonates with me. Not as the one with the eating disorder, but as the sister of one. It kills me to see her eat almost nothing, force herself to run, and at the same time can’t be alone (one relationship after another, usually only lasting about a month or two). I want to scream at her and shake her, but since we live in two different cities, I stew over it from afar. She doesn’t call me and I don’t call her. I guess I don’t know how to talk to her and be the “gentle love” she inevitably needs. Thank you for your writing and your insight. xoxo

  48. Phenomenal article! I love that you are speaking out and talking about anorexia, mental illness, and God’s love. We need more positivity in this world. #speakout4change

    1. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts. Yes! My book is called Bloom and it’s an interactive journal. You can find more information and a write up by clicking on the “my books” tab in the menu:) Hugs and love xox

  49. My neice has been suffering from anorexia for almost 3 years. She is a sophomore in college. She wants to go study abroad next year and I’m afraid for her to go. I’d be surprised if she were 80 lbs based on pictures I’ve seen. I haven’t seen her in a few months. Her mom & dad want to avoid conflict at all costs, but while I agree threatening her isn’t the answer, is rewarding her the answer? I think that they should tell her that if she wants to go, she needs to get to x weight maybe 95lb or 100lb and maintain it for a month or two. Does having a goal to work towards help? I feel so helpless!!

    1. Oh gosh i am so sorry to hear that. I will definitely keep her an you in my prayers. That’s so tough. Honestly, i would often have “rewards” or hard lines like that, but truthfully, and i hate to be a downer, but they never made an impact. She has got to want it for herself. She can do it. You’re a great support for her. Keep being open and communicating. You’re doing more than you know. Hugs and love xox

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