It is completely normal for the loved ones of clients with eating disorders to experience feelings of guilt, anger, helplessness and resentment. In fact, once the eating disorder is brought to light, family members and loved ones have been tolerating these feelings for some time. Often, family members unknowingly accommodate the disorder, altering their lives to make room for the masked demands their loved ones make.
All too often, family members and loved ones minimize the fall-out of the eating disorder in their own lives, soldiering on without support or information critical to successful recovery. Please remember that eating disorders are not your fault and preoccupation with these concerns will not contribute to the healing process. Instead, consider the following suggestions and refer to our Helpful Do’s and Don’ts page for additional information.
- Acknowledge your own healing process. Acknowledge the impact that the disorder has had on your own life and realize that you also need healing from its devastation. Seek separate support for yourself by talking with someone you trust like a friend, clergy member, therapist, or by attending a support group for families. Having an outlet to express your own feelings and frustrations, as well as ask difficult questions, will allow you to remain positive and focused throughout the challenges of the recovery process.
- Educate yourself. By the time a person seeks treatment for an eating disorder, their family often feels exhausted, and in need of fast relief. Understand that there is no quick fix and recovery takes time. Read about eating disorders, what is involved in treatment, and what can be expected during the recovery process. Talk with professionals. They will be able to answer questions and help you set realistic expectations. The more informed you are, the better equipped you will be to handle challenges that arise during the recovery process. Please don’t hesitate to contact us for information and resources.
- Get involved, both in the recovery process and beyond. Families and loved ones play a vital role in the recovery process. Remember, you are half of the relationship and it is important your needs are voiced in a treatment setting at the appropriate time. Discuss what your level of involvement should be with treatment professionals. They will help keep you informed and give you the support you need to set appropriate boundaries outside of the treatment environment. You might also try volunteering with an Eating Disorder Awareness group in your area. Raising awareness and educating others will give you a sense of empowerment and create positive change in your community.