To Parents Watching Their Child Slowly Kill Themselves

To Parents Watching Their Child Slowly Kill Themselves by Ivy Souter //

On November 6, Facebook reminded me that it was the 2 year anniversary of the last time I entered inpatient treatment. The picture that popped up was one taken by my mom when I was in our local hospital before being transferred to the treatment center. Seeing that picture my mom took inspired me to write this post to parents currently experiencing what my parents have been going through for several years.

To Parents Watching Their Child Slowly Kill Themselves,

I support you. What you are going through is probably one of the most terrifying and emotional experiences possible. I can not imagine watching something that I created and had so much hope for give up. As a daughter of two parents who went through this, I am immensely sorry for your pain. I can tell you I felt shame everyday knowing the burden I was giving my parents. They watched me deteriorate day by day and there was nothing they could do. There were times would stand in my room to watch me breathe as I slept, terrified by the notion I wouldn’t wake up. They watched me blatantly refused to nourish my body and cry over the food I wouldn’t eat. Pleading did not change anything. Arguing did not change anything. Silence did not change anything. What your child is doing to themselves, only they can change and I know that is frustrating. I can’t promise this will happen, but I can tell you it is possible. I know that you will do everything in your power to make sure you will see the life come back in them again.

As I write this letter to you, I can’t help but be upset with myself for not deciding to embrace life sooner. My parents had to watch me hurt myself for four years. Getting angry each time I regressed. I am making a promise to you and to my own parents that I will never push myself into that mindset again. There are days where consider “what if.” What if that day in 2014 I was taken to the emergency room, I never came out. What if that day I sat on my bathroom floor watching tears fall onto my knees, I just ended it. What if… What would this have done to my parents? How would they have continued on? Those thoughts haunt me every day as I continue towards recovery.

I would like to thank you for being there for your child. I know that I am so thankful my parents have supported me throughout my journey. They took off work to spend weeks with me in the hospital. They drove an hour every weekend to see me in treatment. They paid for nutrition, therapy and doctors appointments and carpooled me there after school. They did everything in their power to see my recovery through. Most of all, they never gave up. I urge you to never give up on your child, no matter how much it seems they are themselves. Your support means so much more than can be put into words. Thank you mom and dad. Thank you to all the moms, dads, step-mom’s, and step-dads experiencing this burden. You are loved.

To the parents who never got to see their child whole again, I think about you everyday. I pray for you. Know that there is a community there for you in your time of intense hurt. I love you and you motivate me to continue towards a full recovery.

With Love,



Here are some different parent support resources available online:  

Eating Disorder Parent Support Group Facebook

Mothers Against Eating Disorders Group Facebook

Eating Disorders and Families Information on Eating Disorder Hope 

Family Involvement in Treatment on Eating Disorder Hope

NEDA Parent Toolkit

Maudsley Approach Parents Website

Families Empowered and Supporting Treatment of Eating Disorders

To Parents Watching Their Child Slowly Kill Themselves by Ivy Souter//


  1. Denise BREARD says:

    Ivy, you are a remarkable young woman. The first time I really found out what anorexia means was when Karen Carpenter died in 1983. We are so much more aware now, but many people still don’t understand. Partial recovery seems to be the outcome for so many sufferers, and full recovery may be the most difficult work of your life. You are taking your life back from the grip of anorexia. The rewards are worth it! Your journey enlightens and inspires.
    Thank you for sharing your journey with us.
    Warm regards,

    • Ivy says:

      Thank you so much for your kind words! A huge reason why I write on this blog is to educate more people about eating disorders and mental health.

  2. Denise BREARD says:

    Ivy, you are a remarkable young woman. I hadn’t heard much about anorexia and other EDs until the death of Karen Carpenter in 1983. Although more people are aware now, many families don’t know where to turn. Thank you for sharing your story and additional resources with us.

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