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To Sam

I don't know that it's a problem

I've always eaten not much but I've also never been sure why. I'm 13 now and I think eating became a problem when I was 9.

Recently things have been worse for me. I don't why, but limiting what I eat makes me feel better. I only do it at school though, at home I eat less than perhaps I should, but I'm ok with eating.

I also struggle with binge-eating and then trying to make myself sick afterwards, but it's only happened 3 times, and i never actually manage to be sick.

After helping a friend with her problems (not about eating) I thought i should face my own problems and told my head of year about counselling. I never had to explain myself or anything drastic like that. But there was a downside. My parents have to know if i have counselling, so I was really stuck. In the end, i decided i had to go ahead with counselling, so the head of year phoned my mum.

I knew how she'd be- i tried to tell her and my dad before, but they were angry and didn't listen to me. It was the same this time with mum. She was shouting at me at first, but then she was a bit less aggressive because i asked why she was angry.
She said she wasn't angry- but dissapointed in me. She doesn't fully believe me, and I don't know if I believe myself anymore. She hasn't told Dad yet, and I'm terrified for when she does. I have no safe place to go any more, i was expecting a hug and support from Mum but she won't treat me the same any more. And not just me- my siblings are suffering now too, because she's trying to be more parenty than she was before.

She's hurt, my siblings are irritated and my dad will be hurt too. I'm sorry if this is too long, but I can't keep it to myself any more.

Ask Sam


Hi there,

Thank you for your letter. It sounds like there’s a lot going on for you at the moment, so you’ve done really well to write in to get some support.

It seems like there’s two different problems for you that are linked together - your worries about your eating and how things are for you now at home.

You say that that limiting your food makes you feel better, but that you don’t know why this is. You’ve also said that you struggle with binge eating and trying to make yourself sick. You’re being really sensible to realise that there may be something that’s not quite right with your feelings about eating at the moment. It was very brave of you to speak to your Head of Year to try to get some support.

I think that asking for some counselling was a great idea. Sometimes it can be hard to know what’s making you feel like behaving a certain way. Problems around eating can be caused by a whole range of different things. Controlling your eating is sometimes a way for people to try and cope when they are finding other things tough, things that perhaps they don’t have so much control over. Talking about what’s going on for you and how you’re feeling could help you to work out what’s causing you to want to limit your eating.

Another thing that may also perhaps help you to understand what’s going on for you is to write down what’s happening or what you are thinking about when you start feeling like you don’t want to eat, or when you want to binge. That might help you work out if there are certain things that make you particularly feel like this. Perhaps you could start trying to write some of these things down and taking them with you when you see a counsellor.

There’s a lot more information about Eating problems in Explore. Another organisation that also works with young people concerned about eating problems is B-eat.

It sounds like the way that your mum reacted to finding out about the counselling has really upset you. I’m not sure from what you’ve said how you and your mum normally get on. I'm wondering whether you feel able to try talking to her again now that she’s perhaps calmed down and had a bit of time to think about it. This may be something that you feel like you’d like to talk through with a ChildLine counsellor before making any decisions. There’s also information in Explore about Family relationships that you may be interested in taking a look at.

You say that you’re terrified about mum telling your dad and that you feel that you don’t have a safe place to go any more. I’m not sure exactly what you mean by that but I want you to know that if you feel in danger at any time that you can call 999 for the police to get some help.

I also want you to know that you can always talk to a ChildLine counsellor about anything you want. The counsellors will believe you and are there to support you, whatever you decide to do about things. If you feel that you’d like to talk then you could try phoning on 0800 1111 (all calls are free and don’t show up on the bill) or by using the 1-2-1 chat on the ChildLine website (it works like instant messenger).

You’ve done really well to write this letter.

Take care,


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