As frequently happens with the mood swings that are anorexia’s companions, today was a day when our plans for a fun day went awry. My daughter’s mood had been upbeat for a couple of days so it seemed like a good idea for us to go along on a 2-hour road trip for her sister’s interview with a prospective college.

It was clear to see from the first few miles of the trip, that her mood was no longer upbeat. Silence and a depressed expression were all we got from her on the way there. Her sister exited the car to go to her interview, and I was left alone, as I am most of the time, to deal with the horrible demons that my sweet daughter is constantly fighting. No sooner had her sister closed the car door than the tears came.

I coach my self all day every day to keep from getting caught up in the emotions that I automatically feel when I see her like this. My default reaction is to either cry along with her or to get really frustrated that a perfectly good day and a potentially very fun road trip had been reduced to her misery.

It happens so often that I’ve gotten plenty of practice cutting my automatic thoughts off at the pass before they can wreak havoc on my feelings. Days, weeks, months, birthdays, Christmases, special moments, have all been ruined by anorexia. What helps me manage my emotions the most is remembering that these times have not been ruined by my daughter.

Anorexia is the villain in this story. My assumption that the day has been ruined by her gloomy mood is merely a thought, I remind myself, and I take a second to reflect on my decision to not let anorexia have so much power over me that I let it ruin my days. After a little more silent self coaching, I was able to think thoughts that created compassion in me, and I was able to be the kind of parent I want to be for my daughter. She responded to my compassion, and within a few minutes her mood turned around, we shared a great conversation, picked up her sister, and we had a really fun trip home.

I can’t fix my daughter’s anorexia. I can’t coach myself into guaranteeing her recovery. But, I can manage my mind so that I can give her the maximum amount of love and support possible. Parents are known to be one of the greatest assets an anorexic has when it comes to recovery. This road trip reminded me that when everything seems out of control, we parents have more power, more influence, and more to offer than we know. We just need to remember that as we travel this road to recovery with our daughters.

If you’d like to learn more about how important you are to your daughter’s anorexia recovery, email me at to schedule a free 20-minute mini coaching session.