“Dear Mom”: What Your Daughter With an Eating Disorder Needs You to Know

mom - drawing of profile of female in black and white with orange on cheek

Dear Mom,

I am so sorry for causing you pain and fear. I hate seeing you cry. The worst part of it is knowing that I’ve caused your tears.

If you get anything out of this letter, hear this: it’s not your fault.

I promise you it’s not your fault. You didn’t do anything to make this happen.

You truly are the best mom, filled with love, patience, and compassion. You’ve endlessly poured into me. Since I was a child, I’ve always known you loved me- without a doubt.

I never doubted your love mom. And I never will.

I don’t know why I am sick with this disorder, but I want you to know that it is not your fault. I know that you blame yourself, but please stop.

It hurts me so deeply to know that you think yourself as a failure. You’re not. I wish I could show you how much I love you.

I want to recover so badly and to see you smile again. I want to laugh and hike with you. But right now, I’m in a battle, the biggest battle of my life. For my life.

I feel like every part of my being is trying to fight this illness, yet I still feel defeated. I don’t know how to fight this- but I want too. I want to so badly and I will find a way to defeat this.

Thank you for loving me and for being with me in this season in my life.

The best thing you can do right now is to reassure me that you support me and will be with me. I don’t need you to “fix me” or try to get me to eat, I simply need you to be with me.

This might mean that you simply sit with me on the couch and watch tv, or it might mean that you come with me to doctors appointments.

I just feel isolated and alone right now. I just need you. Mom, I need you.

No, I don’t need advice or reminders to eat, I just need to feel your love around me and reassurance that you believe in me. Because if I’m being honest, I don’t know if how much longer I can fight this.

My heart is heavy. I hate analyzing everything I eat. I hate that you can’t look me in the eyes without tearing up.

I’m so sorry that every time you look at me all you see is my withered body and shrunken arms and legs.

Ever since I was a little girl, I desired to make you proud. But somehow I ended up here. I went through seasons of denial, anger, shame and overwhelming guilt– but now I am over all of it.

I just want to get better. I want the tears to cease and I want our family to be made whole again.

Mom, I’m sorry I cause strain and fear for the whole family. And I’m sorry that you had to give me more attention than the other siblings. But I promise I didn’t do it for attention. I’m not doing it to get recognized or to be noticed.

Trust me, I am ashamed and humiliated that I struggle so much with food. I can’t wait until the day this is all over, and all that’s left of this time is a faint memory.

I have a lot of things to fix as I recover and regain my life. But before I do anything and before anything else happens- I just need you to know that none of this is your fault and I’m so sorry that I have caused you so much pain and fear.

Love you,

Your daughter battling anorexia

Image: @helenaperezgarcia

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  1. says: Jacey

    This is such a lovely letter, but it is not your fault, either. Your mom cries because she loves you, but you are not doing this to her. Anorexia is a mental illness, not a choice. You have nothing to be ashamed about. Do not give up your battle. You can and will recover. You deserve recovery.

  2. Hello! my name is Fernando Garcia.
    i want to ask you. Can i translate it to spanish and make some adaptations to target both parents?
    I am a psychiatrist treating eating disorders and i want, if you allow to me, to use this as a psychoeducation tool.

  3. says: JL

    Danielle- I am a mom sitting here in tears as I read this. My 14 yr old daughter is in her 4th week in patient and asked me to leave yesterday about 5 minutes into a visit because “I just make everything worse in her life.” This was after the hospital had to place a tube when she could not eat 2 meals in a row and her vitals are awful.
    I stood up calmly and told her how much I loved her. I asked her for a hug & she would not even look at me. I had to leave and get to my car where I completely broke down in tears. This letter reassures me that she is in there. I can’t thank you enough for sharing. God bless you, my daughter , all who are inflicted with this horrible disease, and us Moms who wait in tears. ?

  4. JL we are sending you so much love and compassion. Your daughter will for sure need your love and support along this journey and she is blessed to have you. It’s extremely difficult as you know, but we believe recovery is possible for everyone. ???

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