A letter to parents of an anorexic child

Jan 12, 2018

Dear Parent

I am writing this letter because I want you to know there is hope and help for you and your child.

I know that as parents we want to do the best we can for our children and to help them, especially if they are suffering. It is easy for us to feel helpless, frustrated and heart broken when a child is ill, especially with such a self-sabotaging illness such as anorexia.

I am reaching out to you because I know anorexia inside out. I suffered from it when I was 15 years old and I fully recovered. I now specialise in this area. I am writing to you because I want to reassure you that there is support for you and your child, and that they can make a full recovery from this illness.

The Traditional Approach

Any support and help that you are currently giving to your child is to be commended.

One of the more traditional approaches usually taken is cognitive psychotherapy. This is a talking therapy using the conscious mind. This type of therapy provides a safe, non-judgemental environment, for your child to talk openly if they chose to, and can provide an emotional crutch.

Eating and weight gain is also usually looked at as a part of a treatment programme. When weight is dangerously low it becomes a necessity to put pressure on an anorexic to eat and at times be force fed. However, when weight loss is not at a life-threatening level I would suggest there are limitations to focusing too much on the eating and weight gain. Anorexics are terrified of eating and so to focus on what is already terrifying them may do more harm than good. It can cause them to feel further disempowered. I have seen numerous anorexics put on weight when forced to eat, but only to lose it when left to be responsible for their own diet.

To speed up any therapy towards recovery, to optimise chances of success, and ensure lasting results, I believe the role of the subconscious needs to be addressed.

The Power of the Subconscious

We have two minds, our subconscious and our conscious mind. The subconscious is by far the more powerful of the two. It is downloaded and programmed in the first six years of our life and it makes up 95% of our behaviour. This mind runs on automatic mode. It is like a tape recorder churning out the same programmes day in and day out. The conscious mind makes up the remaining 5%. This is our creative mind. We are aware of what our conscious mind is doing and thinking, however it is only operating 5% of the time. Therefore, the subconscious mind is much more powerful.

Unfortunately, any negative programming that is downloaded into the subconscious can trigger problems for us. In the case of anorexia these negative beliefs are extreme. Not only are such beliefs self-sabotaging but in the case of this type of illness it appears that positive beliefs are in short supply and not able to balance out the negative beliefs. This makes it easy for the destructive behavioural programming to take over.

I know that for me my limiting subconscious beliefs related around feeling unworthy. Then experiences in my life through my conscious mind – which I perceived as proof that I was unworthy – triggered emotions of fear and guilt, and focused on my weight and eating.

Changing Negative Programming

It is my view that to gain long term positive gains when treating anorexia, the negative subconscious beliefs need to be addressed, as part of the process to a full recovery.

Once the beliefs that are at the core of the illness are determined they can then be transformed into positive beliefs. This is where recovery is made. The blockages and fears to moving forward are removed. The positive subconscious will then be supporting an individual to not only get better but to move forward in life positively and with confidence.

If underlying beliefs are not dealt with, sufferers of anorexia can find themselves ‘recovering’ from the symptoms of the illness but still not fully recovered. It may be they find other less obvious ways to self-sabotage. Or they may feel the need to overly control other parts of their life. They may become obsessive about exercising. All of these behaviours are signs that their inner turmoil has not been remedied.

Why I Got Better and Never Went Back

I consider myself extremely lucky that during my illness I worked with a psychiatrist who was not interested in following a conventional approach to treating anorexia. His approach differed in that he was never interested in my diet or weight, even when my weight plummeted. What he did do was have a lot of patience and a belief that I could and would learn to trust and empower myself to turn the illness around at a subconscious level.

These subconscious changes happened when I hit rock bottom and had to pull myself out on my own. I had to use my conscious mind to overcome the sabotaging beliefs of my subconscious. This was not easy because as I have mentioned the conscious mind is far less powerful than the subconscious. It worked for me because it was literally a life or death situation. When push came to shove I may have been quite happy to starve myself but I did not want to die. By being fully conscious at all times during this period – that I wasn’t going to allow myself to die – I consciously overpowered the self-sabotaging beliefs. This in turn empowered me and I believe the reason why I made a full recovery and never slipped back.

This was an extremely challenging journey for my healing and thankfully there are now alternative and much easier ways to change subconscious beliefs.

The Role of Psych-K

It was later in adulthood that I came across Psych-K. This is the technique I use with children and their parents. I am seeing great success in helping people who are stuck in very difficult emotional and/or physical circumstances, to find the power within themselves to move forward.

Psych-K is a holistic approach encompassing the conscious, subconscious and a client’s own inner wisdom, transforming limiting negative subconscious beliefs into positive ones.

Not only does Psych-K help someone with their recovery process, it enables recovery to come more quickly. It also continues working after recovery. This is because there is a huge amount of personal growth during and following on, from recovery. The Psych-K process is extremely empowering. The positive changes in beliefs made during the recovery itself, means that a client can then move forward on their own. They are armed with positive subconscious beliefs giving them the ability to deal with and flow through any future life problems.

Psych-K will help guide your child to find empowerment by looking within themselves for answers. This is a tool that they’ll be able to use for the rest of their life. It can be used on its own or to compliment medical treatment. For more information  Link: Making life changes easy

Help For Parents

In order to be the best parent you can be for your child when they are going through anorexia, it is extremely important to be able to cope and look after yourself.

It is important to have your own boundaries securely in place which will help you to not only be more objective, but also able to maintain healthy coping mechanisms when dealing with your child. Creating boundaries also ensures that you still have time and energy for your other children and family members, who may be caught up in the emotional turmoil or can sometimes be pushed aside because there are not enough emotional resources to go around.

Stress and fear are two prevalent emotions that parents suffer from when their child is unwell. These emotions only serve to distort your thoughts and feelings, causing you to feel easily overwhelmed. The stress and fear can become problematic in themselves, overriding the original issue causing them.

Psych-K can help with all of the above. One of its main objectives is to transform stress or fear from a traumatic situation. By doing this it is much easier to be objective.

Hope Moving Forward

Please do not lose hope if your child is suffering with anorexia.  Although I allowed anorexia to rob me of my teenage years, I look back on it with gratitude. It was the journey I was supposed to have and learn from. I have learnt to let my determination work for me rather than against me. I have learnt to be able to choose to have compassion and forgiveness for myself, and others. And I have learnt to choose to see myself as totally worthy of a great life.

As parents we want to help our children as much as possible. Sometimes this can mean that while we offer them our unconditional love, we also need to stand back and allow them to find their own way.

A child with anorexia (or any eating disorder), or with any negative beliefs that lead to stress in their lives, can free themselves of these issues, simply by changing their negative belief patterns and realising they have the power to make positive choices.


Emma Middleweek

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