Supporting a young person with an eating disorder: Annie's story

December 01 2022

White curve
Recent times have seen a surge in eating disorders. Our expert trainer, Jenny Langley, supports parents and carers to help their loved ones, as Annie’s story shows.

Eating disorders can sometimes develop very quickly, turning family life upside down. Annie’s daughter Mabel* was diagnosed with anorexia in September 2021 as she turned 16 and became seriously unwell very quickly.

By the early November Mabel was in an intensive outpatient service; by the end of the month she was admitted to a paediatric ward in hospital. On 6 January this year she was transferred to a ‘Tier 4’ acute general adolescent unit where she is still an inpatient. 

Effect on the family

The impact on the family, especially Annie’s younger daughter, who is now 15, has been immense.

Annie said: “We were hurled headlong at high speed into the world of eating disorders and felt overwhelmed, terrified and traumatised.”

Annie had made friends with another mother at school who told her about Jenny’s courses, so she signed up.

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A safe place

Annie explained: “Up until that point, all the courses I’d been doing, or groups I had joined, were talking about the illness in a way I could not relate to.”

Jenny’s group, she said, felt very different: “When I joined,” Annie said, “I immediately felt I had found a safe place, filled with people who understood everything I said. The four-session course gave me the confidence to speak to Mabel and support her gently towards some kind of recovery plan.

Through attending the courses I have learnt so much and been able to use what I’ve learned to support both my daughters.

“Before joining Jenny’s group, I felt very alone, isolated and hopeless. Through attending the courses I have learnt so much and been able to use what I’ve learned to support both my daughters. The regular carer support group meetings pop up every few weeks and are like a lifeline.” 

Offering hope

Annie likes that the ideas in Jenny’s group are always simple and easily achievable. Most of all, she says, “Jenny has given us hope in a situation where it is very easy to lose all hope.”


If you'd like to support our work...

For one week only, until midday on Tuesday 6 December, all donations to Charlie Waller are being doubled, thanks to the Big Give Christmas Challenge. All donations, however large or small, will be of huge value to our work with parents and carers. We appreciate your support enormously.

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 *Names changed for anonymity

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