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:

  • Worry
  • Anger
  • Guilt
  • Grief
  • Helplessness
  • Resentment
  • Powerlessness
  • Frustration
  • Exhaustion
  • Shame
  • Fear

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 the family unit may feel pulled apart or fractured.

Inability to cope:-

The emotional pressures experienced by carers sometimes lead to feeling unable to cope.

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.

Social Isolation:-

Carers may isolate themselves from friends, family and health professionals.

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 and call on family and friends for help if you need it. Try not to isolate yourself from others.

Join a support group

Talking to other carers who have had similar experiences may help you to 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.

Be patient

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.

Be compassionate

The best medicine you can give your loved one is to show 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, it is advisable to let your doctor know. Joining a support group can help you cope with your caring role.

Jersey Eating Disorders Support

Coming together to share experience

Jersey Carer:

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.