When we are in a difficult or painful situation it is usually our greatest desire to be rescued from that circumstance. Secondary to that desire but also quite strong, is the desire to not be alone in the circumstance. How much harder it is to bear a tough thing when we have to bear it by ourselves! An eating disorder creates much fear and confusion in the hearts of family members. It is a disorder of irrational thoughts so it is very hard to comprehend. How can it be understood?
At Canopy Cove we address the stresses of the loved ones who are struggling with an eating disorder. We provide family therapy to work through issues as well as written educational materials and educational sessions with our staff. Having the ability to untangle the confusion through education provides relief and hope to emerge.
You cannot fully understand an eating disorder unless you have one, but there are ways to learn to be more supportive while your loved one is in recovery. First of all, it is a PROCESS not an event. Recovery takes time and work. Have patience with your loved one as they navigate the ups and downs of the road to recovery. Try to not let your fear guide you on days when things don’t look as good – remember that your encouragement could help turn that day around.
Secondly, find ways to have a support system for yourself. Find friends to call at any hour; friends who will listen to you vent and not judge you. You also might need a support group or therapist who can be your guide and will listen to YOU unconditionally. Thirdly, find a treatment center that meets the needs of your family. Ask questions and try to trust them as professionals who know how to treat this.
Lastly, hold on to the knowledge that people can FULLY recover from an eating disorder. Make sure the treatment center you find believes this also. To have hope you have to be able to know that a return to a rich and wonderful life really IS possible for your loved one. Most of all, remember that there are other family members out there who know how you feel. Take the risk to reach out and find them and then help your loved one get the help they need.
~Karen Gibbons, Director of Programs