How I told my parents about my eating disorder… a blog post with my mum
Today marks 6 years since I told my parents about my eating disorder. The 6th of February 2015 (technically the early hours of the 7th) was the day my recovery journey began. Over the years that I have blogged I have had people message me to tell me they are struggling with trying to figure out how to tell their parents. Every time I get this question I am very honest about the fact that I wish I had done it differently and sooner. I am going to do a bigger blog post which will be published next week with tips that I hope can help you to open up to your parents but today I have a long post for you about my own story of telling my parents, the secret that I had been trying to keep to myself for ten years. I will be discussing everything I remember from that night from my point of view and I have also asked my mum to share her side of the story. I tell my mum everything now and I am so lucky and so grateful that I have her as a mum because she has supported me through my recovery since the minute I told her about it. We don’t really ever talk about what my eating disorder did to her or what she remembers from it and I think that is mostly down to me knowing I will feel guilty hearing it and her not wanting me to feel that way. I am writing this and my own side before I have heard her side of the story which you will read further down below and I can’t lie I am expecting a few tears from both of us as we both write it and read each others side but I am hoping that by sharing our stories we can help others to seek help.
I don’t remember very much from that day. I remember that we were getting our flat organised because we had planned a 21st birthday party for one of my friends. My depression had been quite bad for a few months leading up to that day and my eating disorder was going hand in hand with it. I was purging a lot. I had been very stressed over uni work because I was working on a production that just wasn’t going well at all. My grandma had recently had a stroke and I was really missing home. I know that I had been looking forward to the party because I thought that it would be a nice way to escape all the thoughts that were going on in my head. I know that I hadn’t eaten very much throughout the day of the party and that I was drinking a lot before people even arrived whilst I was getting ready. I remember that I had a bloat that I could see through my outfit (my stomach bloats when I drink a lot because my stomach can’t handle it after years of purging) and this upset me but because it was my friends birthday I tried to hide how I was feeling and walked out to the room the party was in. As soon as I walked in I remember feeling really shit about myself and paranoid about how I looked so I drank a lot of shots (now I know that when my moods are low during the day then I definitely should avoid alcohol because it just heightens whatever mood Im already in). I remember trying to keep a smile on my face but it got to a point were my mind was telling me that people were talking about me and that I had to go and be sick so I left and went to my bedroom and made myself purge and when I looked in the mirror I burst into tears. I thought I looked disgusting so I sat and went over my makeup putting more on and redid some of the curls in my hair and when I got up to leave my room everybody was heading out of the door of our flat to go to a club and because nobody had checked to see where I was or waited for me to go with them I got really upset again and locked myself in my bedroom.
I went to my bathroom made myself sick again and then got into bead and cried hysterically and the only thing I wanted was to talk to my mum. I picked up my phone, even though I knew she would be in bed asleep, and called her. The only thing that I was planning on telling her was that I missed her and that I really wanted to go home. That is not what happened. She answered the phone and I was still hysterical. I can’t describe it in any other words than that I just broke down. I couldn’t breathe, I could barely speak and I felt like I was having a panic attack. She kept asking me what was wrong and because she couldn’t understand me she kept asking that question. I told her that I wanted to go home and that I wasn’t happy and then all of the other words fell out of my mouth before I could even think about it. I told her that I was getting jealous of lots of other girls because they were all prettier or skinnier than me and then I told her I had been making myself sick and restricting my eating and she asked for how long and I said as long as I could remember and then couldn’t speak again but I remember I kept saying please don’t be mad. My mum cried, she told me to go and get my flat mate (somebody who I had told about my eating disorder) whilst she went to wake my dad up. She phoned me back and spoke to my flat mate and I don’t actually know what they said to one another. I was told that my dad wanted to talk to me and I remember telling my mum she had to make him promise not to be mad at me and she said that he wasn’t mad. My dad got on the phone and I spoke to him and he said we would get help and that he loved me and he cried and I had only ever seen my dad cry when my grandad died so that was hard to hear. My mum got back on the phone to my flat mate and they organised for my mum to pick me up the following morning. She asked to speak to me again and told me she would pick me up first thing in the morning and that she loved me.
I remember hanging up and feeling so stupid. I had gone 10 years without telling them and my eating disorder was making me feel like I had just done the worst thing ever and that I was going to put loads of weight on and that and that I was an idiot for admitting it because now I was going to have to go to the hospital. I broke down in tears again and spent a while crying on my flat mate I told her I wished I hadn’t told them and she said that it was a good thing and that it needed to be done and then she made sure I was in bed and then told me she would be there in the morning for when my mum was arriving and then she went to bed herself.
I felt so exhausted from the crying and all the thoughts that were running through my head so I set an alarm and tried to fall asleep (I didn’t get much sleep).
I got up the morning after and felt so hungover and had a huge amount of regret. I got changed, I can’t even remember if I packed anything to go home with because a lot of it is a blur. I remember being so anxious to see my mum because I knew that it was going to get emotional. My flat mate came and sat with me at the dining table whilst I waited for my mum and then the door went. My heart dropped, I was in floods of tears so my flat mate got up to answer the door and then my mum walked in. I could tell she had been crying the whole way there, we hugged and then cried together and she told me she was going to get me help.
We got to the car and my mums best friend and her daughter were in it and I remember that we all avoided the conversation and talked about other things but I was sat overthinking everything that had happened the night before and what I could have done differently.
I got home and it was awkward timing because as soon as I reached the door a family member (who hadn’t been informed anything) was at our front door and asked why I was home, I avoided answering and my mum and him disappeared and a little while late he came back with tears in his eyes, hugged me and told me he was always there for me when I needed him. My grandparents hadn’t been told at this point and I am not sure how they found out. Then there was my brother to tell. My parents told me to stay downstairs while my mum took him upstairs to tell him but I wanted to know what was being said, because I was very paranoid. I couldn’t hear very much but the I heard them both crying and I walked in and he gave me a hug and we all cried together. To this day talking about what it did to my family is the hardest part of it all because I carry so much guilt over it.
The next few weeks after this were the worst of my life I felt very anxious and on edge and felt like I was being watched through a telescope. I had to go to the doctors (I am not going to write about it here because I will do a separate post so that I can go into more detail, so you will know what kind of thing to expect if you go for your own appointment), I had to tell other family members and friends about everything. I had an appointment with my mum and my uni lecturer to see what the next steps were and they told me that I could take a year out but I did not want that as I wanted to graduate with my friends. So we agreed that I would take a few weeks off and stay at home while we got help into place with my hospital and doctors.
Even though at the time I regretted telling them, it is the best thing that I have EVER done. I don’t know why I was scared to tell them because they have supported me more than I could have ever imagined and I will never be able to put into words how much it has meant to me and I know I wouldn’t be where I am now if it wasn’t for them.
I went to bed on the Friday Night and was woken by my phone ringing in the early hours of Saturday morning. I knew straight away that it was Lorna as she had a tendency to ring when she had drunk too much and I knew that she was going out that night. I answered and all I could hear was sobbing. She started to tell me that she had been making herself sick for ages and that she was really struggling and needed help. My heart sank and I immediately went into panic mode of how I was going to get to her as we don’t drive. I needed to get to her and give her a big hug. We had a chat and got her to calm down. She was with her friend who was one of her flat mates and I spoke to her and she told me that she would look after her till I was able to get there in the morning. I told Lorna to try and get some sleep and that I would be there first thing in the morning.
I now had the task of telling her dad who was downstairs having a few cans of beer and watching a film. I explained what Lorna had told me and we both stood in the kitchen and cried. I felt very guilty for not noticing it myself. Her dad went to bed and I stayed up all night as I couldn’t sleep.
At 7:30am I rang my best friend to see if she would take me to pick Lorna up. She arrived and I explained to her on the journey what had happened the night before. My best friend had brought her daughter with her but she was very good and sat with her headphones in.
When I got to Lorna I just gave her a big hug and told her not to worry and that we would get her the help that she needed. I thanked her flat mate for looking after her and brought her home.
Her dad and uncle were at home when we got there. Her dad gave her a hug and I told her uncle what was going on and he went and had a chat with her. I then phoned her grandparents and told them. I also had to tell her brother. Everybody was upset but all said that they would help in anyway that they could.
I phoned my boss and booked two weeks off work as I didn’t want her on her own.
We called the doctors on Monday morning and got Lorna an appointment for later that day. That was the first step on her road to recovery
💖 💖. 💖. 💖. 💖. 💖. 💖. 💖. 💖. 💖. 💖. 💖. 💖. 💖. 💖. 💖. 💖. 💖
Im just going to use this space to thank my mum for helping me to do this post. I know it was probably hard bringing up old memories but I love you so much, you’re my best friend and I wouldn’t be where I am today if it wasn’t for you and all the help and support you gave me!
If you are struggling with things similar to what I was, please ask for help. I wouldn’t advise getting drunk to do it like I did but in some ways I am glad it happened that way because if it hadn’t I could still be living with it all as a secret and my life would not look the same as it does now.
Please remember that you are so worthy of recovery and that you deserve it!