Having a family suffering from anorexia is one of the most challenging and emotionally difficult situations for someone to experience. Unfortunately, there is no magical cure or one-size-fits-all procedure for helping your loved one feel better. The healing process is difficult, and it is draining. However, there are resources to make the process easier and ensure you are fully informed of the best way to approach the situation.
Assess the Situation and Don’t Panic
When people hear the word eating disorder, they tend to panic. While it is true that eating disorders are a serious issue, they are also common for all kinds of people. It does more harm than good to stigmatize the issue and act like it is the end of the world. This tendency will make your family members feel isolated and misunderstood. In fact, most people with anorexia are not ready to accept that they have this condition. For most people, constantly pointing it out will not help. Of course, you do have to assess the situation. If it seems at any point that their life is in immediate danger, seek professional help and call the officials. Luckily, in most cases, this is not something you will have to do.
Help Them Explore Treatment Options for Eating Disorders
When they are ready, a great way to support your family member is to help them explore treatment options for eating disorders. Ultimately, they may not feel comfortable talking to a medical professional yet. You can act as a middleman while they begin to start the healing process. Of course, while helping them, be careful not to overstep. There are plenty of great resources for treatment options for eating disorders, but there is also a lot of misinformation. Check all your sources to ensure they are medically reviewed and supported by the scientific community.
Don’t Treat This Like an Overnight Problem
Healing from anorexia is a process. It is not an overnight issue that can be fixed with surgery or a few days of recovery. While there are medical treatments and ways to help certain patients, it requires a lot of internal work from your family member, and the best way you can help is to provide a support system. This support system will look different depending on your family member’s specific health struggles and personality. However, it should hold them accountable, lift them up, and help them feel loved over a long period. Most people will continue to struggle with the symptoms of their eating disorder their whole life.
Remember to Take Care of Yourself.
Lastly, you have to remember to take care of yourself. Taking care of yourself mentally and emotionally is crucial for you and your loved one. If you do not have a good outlet, you may begin to resent them or develop a toxic relationship with your loved one. Relationships should work both ways, so be sure to engage with your family members and share your personal struggles with them. By sharing something personal with them, they will feel more comfortable with you, and the relationship will not be as unbalanced. It is equally vital for you to get a surrounding support system from friends or other family members that can help you care for your loved one and that can check in on your mental health.
It goes without saying that eating disorders are destructive. Left unchecked, they destroy the body and can lead to tricky family relationships. However, it doesn’t have to be this way. You can help your family member get the treatment they need and support them without draining yourself.