Having a good understanding of eating disorders will help you to identify what is happening to the person you are caring for. There is information available to provide you with skills and coping mechanisms to help you throughout this difficult time.
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Remember who the person is
Do not let the eating disorder take over the person’s identity. Remember that they are still your son, daughter, friend, sister, brother, grandchild, mother or father. Separating the person from the illness can be helpful for you and the person you are caring for.
People with eating disorders can experience a range of different and conflicting emotions all in one day. This can be very hard for you and your loved one to manage. The road to recovery is littered with emotions and setbacks and can be a long journey. It is important to be as calm and patient as possible throughout their recovery and remember that there is no quick fix. Recovery takes time and patience.
Communicate openly, without judgement or negativity and allow the person to express how they are feeling. Avoid focussing on food and weight and instead try to talk about the feelings that may exist beneath the illness. Pay attention to the person’s non verbal reactions and body language and encourage them to trust and speak openly with you.
Draw attention to the positive attributes the person has. Talk about the things they enjoy and are good at and the things you love about them. Reminding the person of their life outside of their illness can help them to realise there is more to them than their eating disorder. This could mean taking them to a play if they have a love of theatre, or to a football game if they have a passion for sport.
Make time for yourself
Prioritising “time out” for yourself will help restore your energy and rejuvenate your mind. Make the time to see a friend, go for a walk, do some exercise or see a film. The better you care for yourself, the more you will be able to help the person you are caring for.
Support for carers
Seeking professional support will reduce the amount of stress you carry and improve your capacity to care for someone with an eating disorder. Community based organisations and respite centres are equipped with specifically trained professionals who can assist you with skills based support, support for your physical and psychological well being, help with employment and also provide information booklets, brochures, peer support groups and networks.
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