After chatting with ya’ll on Instagram (@recovroad) about what content you’d like to see next, so many of you wanted content about ED caretaking. I decided that a Q&A with my mom, who was my main caretaker, supporter, and advocate throughout my recovery, could offer some insight into what it’s like as well as be relatable for the caretaker involved in your recovery.
A little bit of backstory…
My mom and I have always been really close! She stayed home with me throughout my life and has constantly been a source of love, laughter, wisdom, and kindness for both me and my siblings. When I got sick, nobody in my family knew what orthorexia was- but she did know something was wrong. She took me to the doctor, psychiatrist, and to a therapist but none of them offered either of us any support or answers. Obviously for me, being the one with the eating disorder, I was afraid to give up ED and was in denial for most of this process- but she never gave up. When I finally had my “aha moment” and knew I had to get help, she was the one who got me the appointment that diagnosed me and saved my life. She was the one that took the brunt of my anger and fear, she was the one who had to dive into the books and research about EDs, and she was even the one who had to help me through the beginning stages of weight restoration. My mom advocated for and loved me through the hardest time of my life- but it clearly wasn’t only me that this happened to. It affected my parents tremendously (and still does) because being a caretaker/support person for someone in recovery can be a frightening, daunting, overwhelming, and thankless job.
Caretakers can be anyone, but know that whoever your caretaker is: they love you and they are going through it in their own way, too. And if you are a caretaker reading this: you are not alone!
Without further ado, here’s our Q&A:
What were some of the biggest challenges for you in being a caregiver for someone going through recovery from an ED?
Trying to understand the complexities of ED while dealing with the stress of trying to get you the help you needed to recover. Also the guilt was terrible because we hadn’t realized sooner what you were dealing with.
What, if anything, were some of the resources that helped you?
Just before you were diagnosed I read a book on ED to understand what was happening. When we went to Dr. Tyson he really helped us understand the physical and mental issues you were dealing with. I think it is fortunate that I am a nurse because it was much easier for me to figure it all out and understand what I had to do to help you. It also made me feel like I should have known sooner…Reading as many books as I could about ED, talking with several mothers who have been through this and going to group classes at ERC were all invaluable resources. The facebook group I joined also has alot of information.
What are a few things/strategies that you found to be helpful in my recovery?
Learning to communicate with you by validating, remaining calm and confidently in charge, checking in and challenging behaviors.
Was there anything you thought would work or you were supposed to do that you found to NOT be helpful?
We found that trying to follow exchanges and measuring food was less effective for you than trying to establish normal, regular meals.
Did you feel like there was adequate support/information for YOU (caregiver) from treatment centers, therapists, and dietitians for my recovery?
Dealing with the treatment centers and teams was frustrating most of the time. The lack of communication and follow through made a difficult situation more stressful. While I am grateful that you had access to residential and outpatient therapy and it was a huge part of your recovery I do feel that it should be a more cohesive process. I had to constantly remind and follow up and push to get you the care you needed.
What is something you wish people, specifically caregivers, family, and partners of those with eating disorders, knew about them and recovery?
I think it is important to know that anyone suffering from an ED is hurting somehow. They are having trouble coping with anxiety, identifying emotions and have developed a very unhealthy way of dealing with life and its complexities. Recovery takes SO much work, patience, perseverance and it is a long process of self discovery and healing. Being there as a support person and learning how to help is the most important way to show love and compassion.
Did you have any misconceptions about eating disorders that were disproven through my experience?
I think the biggest misconception we had (as most people do) is that it is obvious if someone has an eating disorder. You were sick for a year and a half and we just thought you were trying to be “healthy”. I never knew how sneaky and deadly eating disorders could be and how even doctors don’t know how to identify them.
Thank you to my mom for this Q&A! If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to me. I hope this post helps you, be sure to subscribe for more!
Featured image courtesy of Unsplash.
All content on RecovRoad is based on personal experiences, research, and ideas. Please do not repost/share without credit and be aware that nothing on this blog takes the place of professional help. This is also a formal trigger warning: content about and relating to eating disorders may be triggering to survivors. Please see the “RESOURCES” tab, call the National Eating Disorders Association hotline at 800-931-2237, and remember to take care of yourself.