When a person develops an eating disorder such as Anorexia Nervosa or Bulimia it should not be taken lightly. This is a psychiatric disease that can cause early death either through illness or from suicide. If you suspect your child has this condition it is essential to get treatment for them as soon as possible. This is highly likely to be both medical and psychiatric in nature.
Recovery is a very long and slow process and so family and friends must all know how to cope, both with the sufferer and the stress of the situation. Here are some tips to help.
- An eating disorder often affects the sufferer’s sense of identity. You need to remember – and help them to remember – that the disease is not who they are. It is essential to point out to them often that they are more than their disease. This helps to increase their sense of self worth.
- Encourage the sufferer to tell you how they are feeling on a regular basis. It is important to communicate openly with them about their illness and their feelings. It is also essential not to be judgemental or negative in any way. Be positive with them all the time and tell them you are sure they will soon be well, even if you don’t feel like it.
- Learn about the eating disorder that your loved one has so you can better understand what they are going through and how they feel. It will also help you understand what is happening to them. Knowing about the disease is the key to understanding.
- Be positive when you are with the person. Don’t live in the present only, but look to their future by discussing plans and things they might want to do. Point out all their good attributes and talk about the things they enjoy and are good at.
- Be patient. There is no way to achieve a quick cure for this disease but quiet perseverance and patience with them and their feelings is part of their recovery. Recovery will take time, but it’s well worth the effort you put into it.
- Seek professional support to help reduce the stress you are likely to feel when caring for a person with an eating disorder. You should not attempt to cope all by yourself. Professional help will ensure that things are progressing the way they should.
- Take time out for yourself. Caring for someone with any kind of illness can wear you down both physically and emotionally, especially if you are the prime carer. Make time to go out and have fun away from the situation. When you are well and happy it will reflect in the care you can give and really help the sufferer, who is likely to feel depressed due to their illness.