How Can I Help My Sister?

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"My 13-year-old sister hasn’t been eating since our cousins from out of state visited for Thanksgiving. Two of them are her age and spent a lot of time with her. They’re in public school and on tik tok and not at all sheltered whereas my sister is homeschooled and very sheltered. One of them didn’t eat a single meal while visiting. She told me the other day that they told her all about eating disorders when visiting and I think that has a lot to do with her behavior the past month. My mom begged me to spend time with her and get to the bottom of it. She doesn’t want to confront it at all. I guess I’m just confused as to what I should do and how I should go about this. The kicker is I’m 24, and in high school I struggled with an eating disorder and binge eating. My mom was aware but avoided it. My parents don’t believe in therapy, medication, institutions, anything like that. Just “praying it away” and using the Bible or avoiding things like this altogether. As I’ve grown up I’m the opposite. But again I’m not her parent and she’s 13. Any and all advice is welcome."

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The following top answers have been selected by a moderator from hundreds of responses to the original question.

"Share any info with her that you can … let her know that it can literally kill you…and how unhealthy it is and maybe make anonymous call to her school and speak with a school counselor who might be able to help"

"Just be there to support her I guess, and tell her about your own struggles with it if you’re comfortable to, also get her some information on hotlines that she can ring if she’s feeling stressed. The fact your mum chooses to ignore it is a red flag so having you around to support her might just be enough and nip it in the butt quickly. Best of luck and kudos to you for being an awesome sister"

"If it gets really bad & her parents won’t get her help call CPS. Its extreme but better than dying."

"I would encourage her to see a doctor and a therapist"

"Take her somewhere, just the two of you, and talk. Get a coffee and go for a drive. Explain to her how stupid Tik Tok is and how she should never follow the crowd. She should always be herself. Be honest with her, about your history, ask questions, answer questions. Talk to her about healthy habits and the consequences of starving herself. Be blunt and be honest. Sounds like your parents are old-fashioned, like a lot of people still are, but maybe mention to your parents about nutritional counseling. That’s not really therapy therapy, but it’s someone who can guide her to make healthy choices. In the meantime, maybe reach out to your aunt/uncle and find out what was said/done over Thanksgiving when the cousins were visiting so that you can maybe better address it with your sister."

"I would honestly share your own experiences with her. It may not be all on you but I really think her hearing the similarities you’ve went through may help her open her eyes to the issues. Sometimes it helps having that one person close to you that’s been through the same situations"

"She's a kid who probably feels extremely far away from the world around her. This was her first connection with it. Don’t shame and assume that’s why she’s doing it (though I assume it is, I went through something similar) but confronting her like that might make her feel like you’re minimizing her feelings. Talk with her, try to connect her with appropriate media, or do something of her choosing. Let her feel like she has a little control in her life"

TW: Explicit discussion of Bulimia Nervosa effects "I literally had a friend lose her life due to complications from bulimia nervosa. By the time she accepted she had an eating disorder and asked for help, it was too late. Her teeth began to rot from the vomiting, she had bleeding ulcers all the way down her esophagus, her hair started falling out, she stopped having menstrual cycles, her body continued to rapidly shut down, she began vomiting blood, and a couple of weeks later she was gone"

"Go to her school and talk with her counselor they can get her into help"

"Sounds like both families are in denial. Better therapy than dead"

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