Overweight, Cutting and Needing My Mom

By Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

I’m 15 years old with ADHD and depression. About 4 months ago my mom and I had discovered my father cheating- and it seems he has not been faithful for about 9 years. During this time, I have gained 20+ pounds due to binge eating, and my grades have dropped significantly. I started cutting, and while looking at myself in the mirror I feel sick looking at how overweight I have become. During all of this, my one close friend replaced me with someone else, and I feel like I am worthless.

Whenever I try to talk about this with my mother she gets upset and says nothing is wrong with me and that I need to “get a grip”. When I try to tell her that I think I may have an eating disorder, she simply says that I’m “using food for comfort, and it is not a big deal”. I haven’t told her that I cut myself, because I know she would either over-react or not believe me.

My acquaintances have all noticed the scratches on my arms and they ask if I have been self harming, which I’m happy for for some reason, but yet I lie and tell them no. I don’t understand why I get so happy when someone notices, or why I need to feel like I need to lie to them. I want to stop binging and I want to stop cutting, but I don’t know how! I have a therapist, but he spends more time talking to my mother than to me, and the things they say stress me out more- and in turn- increase my desire to cut. What should I do???

A: It sounds to me like you really, really need your mom but your mom is dealing with her own trauma so she’s not available to you. It may be that your therapist is responding to her distress and maybe isn’t seeing yours. So here you are, wanting help, but not getting it from the two people who would usually be the people to give it.

Instead of sending out “hints” about the level of your distress, like having scratches on your arm, you need to be more direct. Show your letter and this response to your therapist. I hope the therapist can help you and your mother be more supportive of each other. You need a mom. She is in such pain that she probably doesn’t understand that she stands to lose the relationship with you as well as the relationship with your dad. You need help expressing your anger and sadness without being self-destructive. If the therapist can’t treat the two of you, ask for a referral for your own therapist.

I’m very glad you wrote. Now please take the next step and have an honest conversation with the therapist.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 7 Jul 2012

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2012). Overweight, Cutting and Needing My Mom. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 21, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2012/07/07/overweight-cutting-and-needing-my-mom/