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Dear Mom and Dad, Thank you for saving my life

published by permission of the author, Kinsey Ouellette

To my parents and all the parents of children with eating disorders:

Dear Mom and Dad, Thank you for saving my life. Thank you for never giving up. Thank you for loving me enough to allow me to hate you. Thank you for fighting my battle when I couldn’t or just didn’t want to. Thank you for choosing recovery for me before I could chose it for myself.

To all the parents out there who are in this fight with their child, don’t give up! Don’t wait for your child to choose or want their own recovery because let’s just be honest: it’s not going to happen, and if it eventually does, it might be too late. Don’t let the fear of losing or damaging your child’s love for you keep you from fighting– the love will come back deeper and stronger when they are healthy, alive, and in recovery. It is not your child that hates you; it is the illness that has taken them hostage. Think of their disorder as a person; when your child is yelling, screaming, throwing things, refusing to eat, negotiating meals, whatever it may be, you are not witnessing or dealing with your actual child, you are face-to face with the personification of their disorder. This hate comes from a losing eating disorder so just remember that the more hate you feel, the better job you are doing. Be more worried when your child likes you because ED must be happy about something. Stand strong and unwavering when you are confronted with the demons and struggles you and your child face every day, every meal.

It is so important to remember that your sick child is not your child. When I was sick, I was not me. Anorexia turned me into a lifeless, vacant, unpleasant, and unloving version of myself. It must be the scariest thing for a parent to look at their child but not actually see them; to just see them disappearing more and more each day, both mind and body. It’s crazy to hear people talk about the way they saw me slowly coming back to life through my weight restoration journey. They tell me how they could see it in my eyes, how they once appeared soulless and empty, but were finally full of the life and personality they always loved again. Keep fighting so you too can experience this with your child.

I always say that my parents have probably put in just as much work for my recovery as I have, especially at the beginning. Recovery is one of the hardest things a person can do, and just simply choosing recovery is even harder. This is why family based treatment and parent involvement is so crucial in a successful recovery. Just as my parents did, you have to want their recovery before they can want it for themselves, you have to choose their recovery for them before they can choose it for themselves, and you have to be their motivation before they find their own. Recovery is not a simple, linear, or easy journey but it is worth it.

Sincerely, Kinsey Ouellette

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9 Comments

  1. Kathryn

    Kinsey…I just want to say thank you. For sharing your truth, for the best ever recovery cake photo shoot and for holding the light so high millions of kiddos can follow the path you have set out on. Thank you for your recovery and much love from this mama bear. You are amazing! 😘

  2. A Sad Mom

    thank you for your well written reflection. you’ve inspired me and given me hope. i am in the darkness and destructive infancy of this journey with my AN daughter.

    keep eating. keep living. keep healing.

  3. Val

    As a mom that lived with the demon that possessed my teen daughter, I can attest that my recovered/in remission daughter is in full agreement with your letter and could have written this herself. For parents in the midst of it, Ms. Ouellette is correct in that at the very worst of times, you are actually doing the best to slay the demons. It is horrible and terrible, and I am so blessed to have a healthy, happy and appreciative daughter now.

  4. Kerry Carruthers

    THANK YOU for giving me some sort of an insight to how my D may have been feeling during her battle with this awful illness xx🌸🌸🌸🌹

  5. Sarah Tadros

    Thank you so much for sharing this, it gives me reassurance and hope that I can stay strong for my son and not fear that my doing this will damage our bond forever. It is a huge comfort to hear from someone who has experienced anorexia first hand, that the words of hate that frequently come from the mouth of my kind and loving child are the eating disorder speaking and not him at all. It hurts less when I know this and helps me stay strong. Thank you. I’m so glad you are well now, and I really appreciate yours and your mum’s efforts to help others of us who are still in this nightmare…a reminder of light at the end of the very dark tunnel

  6. Melanie

    I feel as though my 26 year old daughter has an issue with food. It started when she was planning her wedding and working for a devil wears Prada boss. She began by throwing up daily due to stress. She has gone from 140 or so down to 110 if that. She is 5 6. At one point she stopped talking to us for 6 mos after giving her a beautiful wedding. She is now talking… but she hasn’t been home in almost a year. Her husband says she’s working through things…. but she stays away from eating get togethers. I have to think she has an eating problem. Her husband told me if I want a relationship with her I shouldn’t bring up food or weight. I wish I could help. It saddens me so any suggestions?

    • Laura

      Dear Melanie,

      I’m sending you a hug, and a strong suggestion that you get involved with our community. It sounds like you are describing an eating disorder, and if so that is a treatable brain problem. But since people with EDs, and often the people around them, often don’t understand this is a treatable problem it can go on for a long time and cause horrible damage, even death. Once recognized and being treated, family can be very important and helpful in supporting the person to full recovery. Don’t wait until your daughter understands, or her husband understands. You can do the research and learn about eating disorders on your own and then you and your husband can make a decision on how to try to help. Check out http://www.aroundthedinnertable.org for countless families who will tell similar stories to your own!

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