Saturday 11 June 2016

Dear Stranger on the Waterloo Train- please feel free to share this letter, perhaps we can find the stranger (published with permission from my daughter)

                                                                                             11 June 2016
Dear Stranger on the Waterloo Train,

I see you look up from your paper and notice my daughter and I. You are careful not to catch my eye. I see your eyes fall on my daughter’s self-harm scars. It is a hot day, she is wearing a short sleeve t-shirt and her scars are out in the open. I see how uncomfortable they make you feel. I don't blame you, I totally understand that you find the scars confusing. I see your eyes flick up to my face and wonder what kind of mother I am. I see you considering if I might be cold and uncaring or perhaps she cut her arms because life at home was so difficult. That is ok, I don't mind your thoughts as long as you don't voice them to me. It makes sense that you would wonder if we are a dysfunctional family, that you would think we don't love her enough. Her scars are such an outward symbol of her inner pain and you are right- our job as parents is to protect our children and stop them from harming themselves. Perhaps you would prefer her to hide the pain away and not make it so visible?

I want you to know, dear Stranger on the Waterloo Train that we did our very best to try and help her get free from the monster that ran wild in her head. We really did. We quit our jobs, we tried to keep our eyes on her 24 hours a day, we took her to hospital for stitches and for appointments- sometimes we dragged her kicking and screaming because we knew what she needed when she didn’t. I want you to know that I often slept on the floor in her room so I could be close to her, that I cried silent tears there, on that floor. I want you to know how strong I pretended to be every time I had to bandage her arms after the monster in her head had helped her find a way around us so she could harm herself.

Dear Stranger on the Waterloo Train, I see you look up from your paper and notice my daughter and I. I wish you could look past the scars and see her strength, see how she fights the monster in her head everyday just to stay alive. I want you to notice that she is on a train and not curled up in her bed wanting to die anymore. I want you to see her scars and try to understand how an illness that people perceive as is all in your head can also leave scars on your body.

And Dear Stranger on the Waterloo Train, I don’t mind if you judge me as a mother but I beg you, never judge my baby girl, she is braver than those scars look. I pray that you may never have to stand here where I stand.

Much love,

The Mother of the Bravest Girl on the Waterloo Train


  1. Powerful words, Tanya. No-one can really understand the depths of the emotions we all go through trying to save our children from the tortures of their eating disorders, or whatever other mental health illnesses they have that often run alongside an eating disorder, or manifest on their own. But it is so important to try and create this awareness and to stop people from judging others based on looks alone. As the old saying goes, you can never judge a book by its cover.

    1. Thank you Jen, I agree with you about creating awareness and that is why my daughter gave me permission to publish this. Every time I share some of our story, somebody will tell me how they have struggled but how they felt they could not be open about it for fear of peoples reactions. It is time to talk xx

  2. Agreed Jen. To be honest I could never understand this kind of behaviour until something devastating happened in my life and then I did - first hand - understand...that there could be woes pain than the physical, that sometimes any alternative to drown out the deafening noise and excruciating ache of emotional pain was better than to have it drone on moment after agonising moment in your head. Some distraction, any distraction. How do you share the depth and impact of that? I don't know - but I send you Tanya and your lovely daughter big hugs and love xxx

    1. Thank you Donna, hugs and love gratefully received. It is nearly impossible to put the turmoil and pain into words x