The hardest part about going to treatment was leaving my daughter.

Today marks the one-year anniversary of my admission to an eating disorder treatment center in Chicago. I spent two months at the center where I was treated for symptoms of anorexia, avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder (ARFID), and rumination disorder. It was painful, it was traumatic, and it probably saved my life. I came home to Toledo last Valentine’s Day and nothing has been the same.

The hardest part about going to treatment was leaving my six-year-old daughter. I knew it would be hard, but it was even more difficult than I could imagine. During my stay in treatment, I couldn’t even talk about my daughter without uncontrollably sobbing. It was torture because as soon as anyone found out I was a mom they wanted to ask me about my kid. Around Christmas time my daughter drew me a bunch of pictures and sent them to me. I was so upset when I opened the package that they had a staff member follow me around for the rest of the day. It never seemed to get easier. I always cried.

Back up to fall 2021 – in the months prior to my admission I was engaging in eating disorder behaviors day in and day out, and unfortunately, my young daughter witnessed all of it. There was one night when I threw up during dinner and my husband and daughter didn’t even flinch or look at me. They continued to finish their meals while I cleaned up. That’s how frequent my behaviors were – my family didn’t even see it as out of the ordinary anymore.

Then I made the best decision I could for my little family by going away for treatment. It was inconvenient and I missed my family so much, but we felt it was necessary. I knew my daughter was in good hands and I was going to do my best to get better.

The other patients at the treatment center knew how upset I was talking about my daughter but they still took the time to commend me for doing what was best. I was told I was giving my daughter the best gift I could give her and that I was becoming a good role model. One young woman told me, “I wish my mom would have gone to treatment. Things would be different for me.” I cried so much but I found their words to be motivating. I wanted to get better for my daughter.

I came home a better mother. I used to be really distracted but now I am focused when I spend time with my daughter. I will do anything to keep her healthy – mentally, physically, and emotionally. I don’t ever want my daughter to go through what I did, but at the same time, I want her to know there is help if she is ever struggling. 

Unfortunately, I’ve faced criticism about leaving my daughter. Just before going to treatment, a relative called me to tell me how horrible this was going to be for my daughter which made a very difficult decision even harder. I was so sick and I couldn’t believe with the state I was in that anyone would want me to not go to treatment.  Since coming home my unsupportive family members have made a point to remind me how hard I made things for my daughter — and it really hurts. They have no idea what I went through — or even what my husband and daughter went through — yet they still have an opinion about it. Leaving my daughter was by far the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do, but I did what was best for all of us.

Despite the negativity and pain, I’m still here. Still focused on recovery – and motherhood. I know I made the best decision but I shouldn’t have to explain that to my loved ones. My husband reassures me that I did the right thing. I know in the long run my daughter and I will both feel the benefits of my time at the center. I went to treatment to show my daughter healthier habits so hopefully, she won’t end up where I was. 

I was at the treatment center for only two months but recovery is forever. It has been a year now and we are all still feeling ripple effects. I am much happier now. I know what I need to focus on and I do it from a healthier place. I am grateful for the treatment center, but I really hope I never have to go back.


  1. Katydid says

    I find it heartbreaking that people who barely even met you and your daughter were more concerned about your and her welfare than your family member. Your family’s attitudes and treatment of you are not okay. You said you had a therapist, and this would be a great thing to explore in therapy to give you healthy strategies to manage this.

    Also–and this will not be confined to relatives–a lot of insecure women engage in the “Mommier than thou” competitive crap, where the only way they can feel good about themselves is to put other mothers down.

  2. moarscienceplz says

    Ashes, I am certain you made the best choice to go for treatment. I think a six year old can understand, “Mommy has to go to the hospital for a while to get better.”
    I had an experience a little bit like that when I was around five or six. My mom’s father died unexpectedly, so my mom made a rather arduous car trip to be with her family for a couple of weeks, and I stayed home with my dad. I didn’t like it, and I probably whined a lot about it, but when she came back I was just happy to have her back, no resentment or anything negative. It was what she needed to do, and when I got a little older I fully understood that.

  3. says

    Well of course you did the right thing.
    My cat got very annoyed with me every time I had to go into hospital, but that’s different. You can’t explain to a cat.

    I find it very sad that some of your relatives understand as little as a cat.

  4. Katydid says

    Oh, yeah–in case it wasn’t obvious, the right thing for you to do was to seek care and get better. You just modeled for your daughter that when something is wrong and you can’t fix it by yourself, the correct thing to do is to ask for help from people who can. Of course it was hard to leave your daughter and of course you missed each other terribly, but you came back strong and now have more time, attention, and coping skills to give her. Remind yourself that you never abandoned her; you went off to do the hard work that made you better.

    Also, reflect on how much time you want to spend with people who undercut you and make you doubt yourself.

  5. flexilis says

    Happy anniversary of the start of your new life! Don’t listen to the detractors. Yes, your daughter and husband need you. They need you healthy and present. And happy holiday season, hope it isn’t too stressful.

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