Being A Carer
Caring for a loved one with an eating disorder can be a very stressful and overwhelming experience. It is extremely difficult to watch a loved one put their life and health at risk through self starvation, over exercise or disordered eating behaviours.
It is common for a carer to experience the following emotions:
These emotions are very normal. However, being able to manage them can be difficult and may impact on your emotional well-being.
Research has found that carers of a person with an eating disorder face many distinct pressures and issues because of the illness, such as:
Family unification or disintegration:-
Family units can change because of the stress of their loved one’s illness. At times families may feel closer, at other times the family unit may feel pulled apart or fractured.
Inability to cope:-
The emotional pressures experienced by carers sometimes lead to feelings of an inability to cope, or conversely, the burden of a loved one’s illness can damage coping mechanisms.
Inconsiderate comments from others:-
Unhelpful comments made by extended family members or friends can intensify the pressure upon carers and increase carer anxiety. Carers have identified that significant others often do not understand the problem they are dealing with. This can lead to the ‘problem’ being kept within the family and can result in social isolation.
Carers may isolate themselves from friends, family and health professionals to ‘manage’ the situation. Seclusion from others can limit coping resources and deprive parents from sharing the burden.
It is crucial that you talk about your feelings and experiences. Try to remember you are not alone. There is help available for you and your loved one.
When caring for a loved one with an eating disorder try to:
Get help from others
Seek professional assistance, call on family and friends for help if you need it. Don’t isolate yourself from others.
Join a support group
Talking to other carers who have had similar experiences will help you feel understood and supported.
Take a break
In order to continue to provide help and support to your loved one, you need to take some time out for yourself every now and then.
Get enough sleep
Sleep is so important. If you are not getting enough sleep you are less likely to cope.
Recovery is possible however, the process can be slow. The journey to recovery can have many ups and downs. Try to stay as calm and patient as possible.
The best medicine you can give your loved one is showing them you care.
"If you don’t look after yourself, you won’t be able to look after anyone else."
It is normal to feel stressed or run down in your caring relationship from time to time. If there are times when you feel overwhelmed, depressed or anxious let your doctor know. Joining a support group can help to support you through your role as a carer.
Jersey Eating Disorders Support
Help through Shared Experience
A mother who attended Jersey Support after her daughter developed an eating disorder praised the group and the support she received saying, ”When I felt so alone and afraid and fearful of losing my daughter it was the group that pulled me through. It was the only place I felt understood, safe and able to speak the truth. It gave me the hope and courage to carry on.”
The information contained on this page is not intended to be a substitute for medical care. Decisions regarding treatment are complex medical decisions requiring the independent, informed decision of an appropriate health care professional.