Parents can’t afford to wait: the price is incalculable

We can’t afford delay, apathy, pats on the head, and empty promises. We can’t afford infighting and turfs. The price of losing one more person, destroying one more family, wasting one more opportunity to relieve a human suffering from an eating disorder is too high. – Laura Collins Lyster-Mensh

“I’m so scared.” Is the first thing I hear, in one form or another, from nearly every parent who comes to seek support from F.E.A.S.T. 

The fear for one’s child can be overwhelming. It is urgent. It is confusing. And: it is our job. No one else has the same responsibility as a parent does: not the clinicians who treat the disorder, not the healthcare system that pays for it, not social services or the friends and the rest of the family. We can’t afford to wait for others.

Our position as parents is unique. Our responsibility is lifelong. From the time we become a parent to this human being we feel responsible and any threat to our person’s health or happiness is our concern.

The history of how parents and families have been blamed or excluded is the history of poor outcomes and desperately isolated sufferers. It is the history of not enough funding for research, not enough funding for treatment, not enough social supports for patients. We parents need to be there for our loved one and for the fight for better treatment and a safer society for those with these powerful brain disorders. It’s our job.

We cannot afford to wait to recognize, to act, to follow through.

We are too often told that we should wait. Until it gets worse, until the patient is “ready,” until the waitlist clears, until more services are available, until the research points the way, until society understands these are not choices but treatable conditions. We are told to wait, to be patient, to understand why what our person needs is not available.

We cannot afford to wait. Not when it is OUR precious loved one in harm’s way. No one should expect us to.

For parents this waiting is unacceptable and won’t be tolerated. When we wait we put our sons and daughters at risk. When we wait the system doesn’t change fast enough. 

We have to be urgent, pushy, demanding, persistent, and angry.

Yes, angry. There’s a place for anger when you’re asked to wait. When we are told it will get better later, for others, or for other diagnoses, or in other places. You can’t expect parents to be patient and nice. If we’re waiting, we’re going to be angry.

And world, you don’t have to wait for that. We’re here. And we’ve been waiting. And we’re angry.

So when we come to your door with questions we are not going to wait for answers: we can’t afford to.

When you hear someone saying something ignorant about eating disorders: we can’t afford for you to be silent.

When we ask you to join us at legislators’ offices and for policy changes: we can’t afford to have you absent.

When we need to fundraise to support programs for families: we can’t afford for you to ignore us.

We can’t afford delay, apathy, pats on the head, and empty promises. We can’t afford infighting and turfs. The price of losing one more person, destroying one more family, wasting one more opportunity to relieve a human suffering from an eating disorder is too high. Not with OUR children. 

About World Eating Disorders Action Day 2019

This year grassroots activists, volunteers, and over 250 organizations in 40+ countries are calling for caregivers to receive support, health care workers to be properly trained, and access to immediate, evidence-based treatment. 

Why We Can’t Afford to Wait 

  • Worldwide over 70 million people are estimated to be affected by an eating disorder, 
  • Eating disorders have the HIGHEST MORTALITY RATE of any psychiatric illness  
  • Eating disorders affect people of all genders, sexual orientations, ages, socioeconomic class, abilities, races, and ethnic backgrounds. It is time to take action. 
  • Good news! When treated EARLY and correctly, eating disorders have the highest and fastest recovery rate!   

How to support World Eating Disorders Action Day, June 2, 2019

  1. Join the movement, show your purple on social media! Use hashtag #ShowUsYourPurple
  1. Follow conversation on social media. Use hashtags #ShowUsYourPurple #WeDoActNow 
  1. Host or attend an event. See
  1. Donate. To support the work see 
  1. Discuss eating disorders. Through open, supportive dialogue, we can create change.

E-book release: Come as you are, eating disorders can’t wait


As a Participating Organisation supporting 2019 World Eating Disorder Action Day, The Diary Healerhas released  a new ebook, Come as you are, eating disorders can’t wait. Stories from around the world illustrate that recovery from an eating disorder IS possible, at every age. The first step, is to seek help. Click here to purchase a copy for $9.97 (AUD) – all profits support eating disorder services.



Laura Collins Lyster-Mensh

About Laura Collins Lyster-Mensh

Laura Collins Lyster-Mensh, MS, Executive Director of FEAST, is an American writer who became an activist for improved eating disorder treatment after her teen daughter recovered from a life-threatening eating disorder. Her book, Eating With Your Anorexic (McGraw Hill), is a humorous memoir of her family’s experience. Laura is an affiliate member of the Academy for Eating Disorders and a recipient of the 2014 Meehan/Hartley Award for Public Service and/or Advocacy.
She has helped to found three eating disorder advocacy organizations: F.E.A.S.T, Charlotte’s Helix, and Maudsley Parents. She has written four books, two on eating disorders. In her leisure time she tap dances and watches very very old movies.


All articles by Laura Collins Lyster-Mensh

Leave a Reply