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Anorexia: The Whisperer

By Charlotte

“I’ve never gone away. I am resilient, I am patient, I’m waiting for my moment to return. I’ll sneak in when no one’s looking. When you are not looking.

You thought your child was making progress! You fed them fats to heal their brain! Increased their weight to stop the drop. Watched them so they couldn’t work out. You hit me with everything you had. You did a good job!

I was screaming in terror; you were killing me. I was dying. I lost my grip on your child. I tried to fight you, but you were too strong. The child stopped listening to me and began listening to you. I was losing the battle; if you only knew how close you came to finally killing me!

You started getting your child back, their personality returned, I couldn’t fight against you anymore…I retreated and gave you your child back.


I am patient. I still had a faint pulse. I hadn’t finished what I started. You were distracted in the relief of killing me; relieved that I had lost control, relieved you had your child back.


You made a error and stopped watching for me; you stopped looking for me, but I was there… I could see you.


You could not see me. So I started to whisper once more…

To invite the child to hide their lunch “No one will notice…just do it and see if you get away with it.” You were distracted and you couldn’t see me!

I could still see you though; I’ve always seen you. I hide in the shadows unseen.

I asked for more. I told your child to make themselves skip lunch….I gained strength again and felt alive and in control. I got a grip on them again.

Then you finally saw me!


I never left. A bit of me lived, and that’s all that I needed to survive; that small little part remained and was all I needed to regenerate and come back.

I will tell you my secret. Watch me till the end and feed me years after I have gone, to ensure I have finally left. That is the only way to get rid of me.

Or else…

I am patient and I will wait in the shadows for my moment of return.”

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    • Julia d.

      I completely agree. Hit the nail on the head. I thought I’d killed it a year ago but it’s back full force again. Tears and rage and trembling all over again. This time I must be stronger for much longer. I must treat it as though it will never fully relinquish.

    • Dani

      This touched me deeply to my core. It’s so true and exactly what has happened in my home. Thank you for writing this in such a clear way to capture the disease and explain to others.

  1. Jennifer Aviles

    Yes. Thank you for this post. Even now – I am 76 and entered recovery when I was about 31 after struggling with anorexia/bulimia since I was 15 – that voice snuck back in this past month at the height of my sorrow to the point that friends reminded me I needed to eat and I realized what was happening. If one has the genetic tendency, one remains vulnerable.

  2. Stefanie

    This article is very disturbing for me, for obvious reasons. I’m at the beginning of this process with my daughter (11yrs) who has been restricting herself from food for the past few months. I feel terrified for her and am reminded by this article, that as parents, we can never put our guard down.
    Does anyone with experience have any advice to offer someone like myself who is unaware and new to this?

    • Julie d.

      Stephanie I am sending you so much love and hope and strength right now. I was there a year and a half ago with my daughter who was then 12. After she dropped 25% of her body weight in 3 months while schooling at home. She stopped eating lunch in the beginning.. then breakfast. We were all busy and believed her when she said she’d grabbed a bite on her own. Then she started wearing baggy clothes and we started to notice her face slim down, at which point we begin to confront her. She was drinking loads of water to suppress her hunger. Soft inquiries and concerns turned to more forceful arguments. Then came the doctors and therapy and FBT. Slowly but surely we got her back over the course of about 5-6 months. I remember being so grateful it had gone and I could breathe once again. But I let my guard down. I let it relapse. I did see signs of it returning months ago and I wish I would have come down on it like a jack hammer at that point. Instead I was much too soft and let her get way to skinny before confronting it full force. The sad truth I’m learning- and I guess I am really just reinforcing what this piece is saying- is that you really truly can never let that guard down. Always be ready and when you see the slightest of signs of the disorder returning, come down on it relentlessly. It takes such a tremendous amount of energy to rekindle when you’ve completely relaxed and assumed it’s a thing of the past. The emotional turmoil is that much more devastating when you are caught off guard and thrown back into the travesty and chaos. It is truly not worth ever fully relaxing. And do not ever say to yourself “ thank goodness that is over”.., damning words.. I hate to tell you, but that article rings very true in my experience. Read and journal and reach out for as much help from fellow parents and loved ones. I also want to warm you that your child will likely behave in a very different and aggressive way. Cursing and screaming has become normal. As if she is possessed. You must externalizations the disorder. It is not your child. It’s more as if they have a demon inside of them and need to be excorcised. It’s better to just expect this behavior and be ready for the absolute worst. I hope I have not discouraged you. I wish someone had spoken to me me so candidly when this all begin. I wish you all of the strength and positive energy there is to give. Stay strong!! I’m no expert but I’m happy to listen and share my personal experiences, so reach out if you need an empathetic ear.

  3. Kelly

    Your post sent a chill up and down my spine. This illness is insidious and unrelenting. It is evil and cunning and truly does hide and wait to suffocate our children.

  4. Diane

    Charlotte, I could cry because this describes our experience with my youngest daughter. Just as I thought we were pulling my daughter out of it, thought we were banishing ED, . . . It was then that my oldest daughter became desperately ill with a different mental illness. And because there was only one of me, and my youngest was in a better place, I handed back food control . . . way too soon. I’m not sure what choice I had. For the next eight years, ED was there, always watching, and when the oldest started to slide and I took my eye off the youngest, ED slipped in. I felt so guilty that I had failed my youngest . . . both of them, actually. After my oldest was functioning a bit better and married, a crisis with the youngest demanded decisive action and within a year or so, she was doing so much better! It is possible to conquer this illness, even when it’s dragged on! Five years later, she’s an independent adult and doing so well! She moved out before COVID and for practical reasons, came back home for a while, but these last couple of years have shown my that she’s doing so much better. But I’ll always keep my eyes open.

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