Carers suffer too, even though you do not have an eating disorder, It is important that you have help and support. It is difficult to watch someone you love slowly destroy themselves while you look on feeling helpless. If the sufferer doesn’t want help, don’t let that stop you seeking assistance – you have needs too. This can also send a out a powerful message and might encourage them to do the same. You are under great stress, one of you has already succumbed to an eating disorder, there’s no sense in you falling into the pit as well.
In order for someone to recover, they have to want to get better and be willing to accept help. No matter how much you want to help that person, you have to accept that you cannot force someone to get better or receive help. Setbacks will happen so be prepared, but recovery is possible.
There will be times when everything you say and do will be wrong – home may feel like a battleground. You must try and remember that whatever the sufferer says or does, it is out of pain and distress and not personal, even if it may feel like it.
One of the most important things you can do in helping your loved one is to take some time out and step back from your caring duties. You could ask your family or friends for help, or set small achievable goals for the sufferer in order for them to start taking some responsibility for their own health.
Caring for yourself is of vital importance as a core skill in managing someone’s eating distress. Try and participate regularly in something that reduces stress – maybe a sport or hobby – but something that relaxes your body, soothes your mind and gives you something else to think about for a few hours. You could also try to timetable special time with your loved one to help support the positive, rewarding and non-eating disordered aspects of your relationship that it is all too easy to lose sight of.
Life must go on – try not to let the eating disorder take over normal, everyday activities. It can help to try and maintain something in your relationship that isn’t connected with the eating disorder or food. Look after yourself and show the person with the eating disorder that taking care of your own needs is acceptable.
If you are in paid employment you are likely to experience difficulties over requests for time off and increased absence from work. Take the initiative by asking to speak to your employer as soon as you know your child is unwell. At least you will have tested the reaction and you may find your honesty is appreciated. You could offer our telephone number, information leaflets or our website address if your employer wants to know more about eating disorders. You could also ask for this to remain confidential if that is what you prefer. If you do need time off work because of the eating disorder, check your contract of employment to be sure of your rights.