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You Saved My Daughter’s Life

By Eliza Wilkins

You saved my daughter’s life. Thank you and I am grateful are too weak, too formal for what I feel, but they are the only words I have. So, thank you for saving my daughter’s life. I am grateful.

When I first felt the hair rising on the back of my neck, thank you for being there as the answer to my internet search. When everyone assured me she was fine, thank you for urging me to Act Immediately, Don’t Delay! Early intervention brings the best prognosis for complete recovery without relapse. When I found her breakfast in the bathroom trash that Monday morning two years ago – the awful, final proof I needed – F.E.A.S.T. had already equipped me to strike hard and fast with Family Based Treatment. The eating disorder was unmasked. My daughter told me she wasn’t strong enough to defeat It. I told her I would be strong enough for both of us. I had no idea what I was saying.

Although nothing could have prepared me for the horror show of refeeding, thank you for sharing your most harrowing moments. I could have never believed it was possible from this sweet girl – the ranting, screaming, threatening, sobbing, violence. If you had not shared, I would have thought that I was killing her, because the eating disorder said I was. I would have thought she was gone beyond all hope. I watched horrified as the eating disorder tortured my daughter for months on end with a terror that masqueraded as hate. I will never be the same. But I imagined myself as a wall, thanks to you, and Life Stopped Until She Ate, thanks to you. And she ate.

I am grateful for your recipes and your odes to butter and cream and canola. Your agonizing descriptions of weighing at the eating disorder clinic and catatonic silences and seven-hour rages on the bedroom floor and self-harm and suicidal watches with weight gain – if you had not shared, how else would I have known that this was to be expected? How would I known that we were not the only family stumbling through nightmarish days and sleepless nights without knowing where we were or how we got here or how we would ever find our way out? How would we have known that we were not alone? And blessings, blessings, blessings on the heads of you who had dragged your sons and daughters through this Living Hell to safer shores and then chose to stand by us as we were drowning daily in a darkness we could not understand or overcome on our own. Your stories of recovery held out the light of hope to us when we were too crushed by fear to believe it would ever end.

It did end. She came back to us, thanks to you. I will never forget her first smile – at the kitchen counter of all places. The sound of her first laugh trickling down the stairs. Her first song in the shower. A hug! Her disappointed, “What?! There’s no garlic bread?!” And the best moment of all, when after months of hateful silence, she answered, “I love you, too.”

I wish there was something more to say than thank you. I wish I could grasp both of your hands in mine so you could feel my gratitude. I wish I could pull the sun down from the sky to light your darkest moments. I wish I could heal all your griefs and banish all your fears. I wish I could restore every moment of joy this heinous disease has stolen from your family. I wish I could give you peace and prosperity in exchange for what you have given back to me. This is what I mean – this is what I feel when I say Thank You.


  1. Lisa B

    Eliza, you’ve perfectly encompassed why peer mentorship and support are so crucial on this journey! We don’t know what we don’t know and having others who’ve journeyed before us, reach out and support, is a kindness that knows no ends ♥️

  2. Lesley

    We haven’t gone through the rage that a lot of families experience when refeeding their loved one yet it still brought tears. It is hard no matter what your experience has been. Beyond grateful for this community!

  3. Siobhan Currie

    Eliza, what a raw but beautiful expression of gratitude. Your family experience so easily reads as our own family experience. The garlic bread comment made me laugh and resonated so strongly. We still have garlic bread with dinner every night, regardless of the meal. Thank you for putting into words what I have found difficult to do.

  4. Kim S

    Eliza, we are into the fourth week of treatment and refeeding and the pain and anger and tears we get from our kid is just agonizing. So much pain for a 13-year-old. It’s so good to know that all of it can pass if we stay strong and loving and don’t waiver.

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