As a trusted friend or relative supporting a loved one through the arduous eating disorder recovery process, there are a few important dos and don’ts to keep in mind. It is so essential to constantly be aware of the difference between supporting and enabling the sufferer. Here is what you need to know.
DO educate yourself
You can’t help your loved one if you don’t understand precisely what you’re dealing with. Read up on anorexia as much as you can, but also don’t be afraid to ask your loved one questions. Every sufferer will have their own unique experience and, often, very specific triggers.
DO get involved
While the person’s recovery is in their own hands, having a trustworthy support system is essential. According to professionals at edentreatment.com, who specialize in assisting anorexia sufferers with their recovery, people who are diagnosed with anorexia nervosa use food to cope with their emotions. While they cannot control many aspects of their lives, they find that they can control how much, when, and what they eat. This restriction gives them a sense of power, but it is not conducive to healthy living. Part of the recovery process is learning to rely on friends and family when it comes to dealing with emotions, stress and daily challenges – hence the reason why a decent support system is of the utmost importance!
DO find your own support
Being there for your loved one as he or she strives to recover is a huge responsibility, and it is not an easy road to follow. Proper support is just as necessary for friends and relatives as it is for the sufferers themselves! Join support groups, whether online or in person, or speak to a friend on a regular basis. You don’t have to do this alone.
DON’T comment on physical appearance
Not only can this be triggering, but it goes against what the sufferer is trying to achieve through recovery. Instead, make an effort to offer compliments to your loved one regarding their many other positive attributes that don’t relate to their appearance. Their charming nature, their willingness to help others, their intelligence, etc. All of this works wonders in terms of helping to build up their self-esteem.
DON’T accommodate the eating disorder
For example, don’t avoid going out in fear that your loved one will relapse. While you may think that this is a helpful behavior, what you are really communicating is that you are expecting them to continue using disordered behaviors and don’t trust them or think them capable of taking their recovery seriously.
DON’T give up hope
As mentioned, recovering from an eating disorder is never simple. There are likely to be relapses, negative thoughts, and many tough times ahead. However, it is essential that you never give up hope no matter how difficult the situation may get. Your belief in the person suffering from anorexia is often what will drive them to continue on the path to healthier living, no matter what obstacles may present themselves along the way.
While recovering from anorexia is never easy, it is possible. Keep the aforementioned tips in mind, and you are sure to bolster the chances of your loved one coming out victorious!