Sunday 22 November 2015


Reader Rosa writes about painful it can be to watch one of the people you love most in the world suffer from an eating disorder…

Rosa says:
My sister Jo is fifteen and I haven't seen her for three months. She is in hospital being treated for anorexia and the special unit she is staying in is almost 100 miles away, so although my mum and dad go to see her every weekend, I don't. And Mum says she wouldn't want me to see Jo at the moment, because she is so ill. I write to her, but she hasn't replied, and that hurts… I'm thirteen and all my life Jo has been my hero, and now she's so far away and she doesn't seem to remember me at all.

I hate her illness. Anorexia took my beautiful sister and ruined her, turned her into a person none of us even knew anymore. We tried to help but she was so clever and tricked us to go on hurting herself. Jo was very beautiful and always slim, and I didn't notice at first how obsessed she was getting with her size. I only know because I read her diary from last year, which makes me a bad person but I don't care because it had lots of entries about how how some boy had told her she could lose a few lbs and about how upset she was to have to buy a pair of size 10 jeans instead of an 8. She stopped eating and wrote about how she looked in the mirror and saw this huge, obese person looking back. When I found the diary I showed Mum, and that is how we found out really because up until then she had done a great job of covering it all up. Jo was so angry, though, and things haven't been the same for us since, but Mum says that one day when she's better she will thank me. I wish I believed that.

I suppose I wanted to write about Jo because it is very hard to be the little sister of someone who is trying to starve themselves to death. People say it is a sickness and I understand that, but Jo's sickness has destroyed everyone in the family. I hate it so much. I want my sister back. I want her happy and healthy and beautiful, not the skeleton girl she is now. She thinks she looks great, but she really doesn't.  Sometimes she looks like a little child, but a very sick one, and sometimes she's more like an old lady. In the middle of the night, I lie awake and think of her and wonder if she ever thinks of me, or if I am just the little sister with puppy fat she has left behind. Selfish, I know. Like I said, anorexia is destroying us all.

The powerful illustration for this feature was drawn by reader Courtney. Many thanks.

Names have been changed to protect identities.

If you want to talk to someone about an eating disorder, call Beat Youthline on 0345 634 7650.

Cathy says:
A heartbreaking post about how eating disorders can harm a whole family, not just the person with the illness. Sending love and support to Rosa and Jo and their family. Have YOU or someone you know struggled with eating issues? COMMENT BELOW to tell us more...


  1. My twin sister doesn't have an eating disorder but she could get one. She has recently cut down on what she eats. She eats an apple for breakfast and throws her lunch in the bin. She's skinny and you can see her hips and I've started to see her ribs as well. I've talked to my Mum about it but she keeps saying that I'm trying to get her in trouble. I don't know what to do....

    1. Try to speak to her. If it goes any further it could go really bad. Approach gently, don't go straight to the point, unless you believe that might work. You need to be clear. Try talking to your mum again, if that doesn't work go to another family member or trusty friend. Good Luck.

  2. This is so sad. Your mum is right, Rosa. Jo may be angry at you for reading her diary and discovering her eating disorder but by doing that, you saved her life. It could have been much worse if you didn't get her help. Jo feels betrayed now because she feels you "grassed her up" and played a part in taking away the only thing she feels she had control over - her diet. But as she gets better, she'll realise that you did what was best for her, even if she didn't appreciate it at the time. That realisation will bring you closer again. As you recognise, your sister and the disorder that is hurting everyone are separate. I'm sure your sister hasn't forgotten you, it's just that her mind is filled with terrible thoughts that you don't love her and that her whole family are against her by trying to get her help. Obviously, it's hard to ignore these thoughts. The anorexia has convinced her that it is her friend and everyone who tries to help is trying to make her fat. She still loves you, deep down, though. When she is well enough to come home, she'll be glad of your support in fighting the real enemy - anorexia. And don't ever think you're selfish for feeling the way you do. When someone is ill, it affects their loved ones too. Just because you are not the one who is ill does not mean you are not allowed to feel sad or betrayed or worried or angry. Your life has been turned upside down, your sister has been taken away from you and you're uncertain about the future of your relationship with her. Of course you're going to feel bad sometimes. It does not mean you are selfish because you're not. It's very important to make sure you have adequate support though - someone to talk to who will listen to your worries. Someone neutral to the situation like a counsellor might be a good idea. I know this is a really tough time for you and I really hope you get through it and your sister beats her disorder. Best wishes.

  3. i think i came close to getting an eating disorder. I started to become more aware of the way i looked and how much i was eating when i was 11. I compared myself with people from tv and my peers. I thought that i was eating too much junk food so i tried to eat more healthy but that was too hard because my mum always cooked so i decided skipping lunch might have helped. I only could skip lunch when i was at school and i found it very hard to concentrate in class. I had pack lunch so the food my mum gave me stayed in my school bag and over time it built up and up and up. I became obsessed with my weight and searched for hours online on how to lose weight but i couldn't find anything that would let me lose weight without anyone finding out so i kept cutting down on food, hoping no one would notice but one day my mu found all the uneaten food in my bag and forced me to eat properly. It's a good thing she found out before it got too serious.

  4. My sister had an eating disorder too and she was in hospital too, I was the little sister and I didn't understand at the time because i was still a little girl but I understand these days and I understand this story . Keep strong and everything will be ok in the end with support and love and patience xxx



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