Contributor: Crystal Karges, MS, RDN, IBCLC Director of Content and Social Media at Eating Disorder Hope/Addiction Hope
Eating disorders are chronic illnesses; meaning recovery must always be a proactive thing in order to stay well for the long-term. While this may be difficult to grasp, and even discouraging at times, having a better understanding of expectations can make you more successful in the long run.
This may be especially difficult for loved ones to understand, particularly family members and those closest to you. Eating disorders are painful to experience, physically, emotionally, mentally and more. This affects not only the sufferer but those in your life who love and care for you.
Establishing Support for the Long Term
Many individuals have the expectation that once recovered from an eating disorder, everyone can move on with their life as usual. During any uncomfortable time in life, it is human nature to want to return to a sense of normalcy as quickly as possible.
When it comes an eating disorder, for family members, this may mean restoration of health and weight (if necessary), normalization of eating habits, and general return of the person they once knew. All of these things happen gradually throughout the treatment process, but once these goals are met, this does not necessary mark the “recovered” point of the journey.
Eating disorder relapses are quite common, even after years in recovery. A person, who has had an eating disorder, by default, can return to these behaviors under the right conditions, or even during a transitional time of life.
Relapses however, do not indicate failure or that a loved one is no longer in recovery – this is simply just part of the journey. Helping loved ones understand the chronic nature of an eating disorder and what recovery may look like can help communicate more effective grounds for support along the way.
Communicating When Needing Help
If your loved ones are aware of the long-term nature of your recovery, it can be easier to open up and confide in someone you trust should you need help along the way. This also helps loved ones understand that just because you have met certain treatment goals does not mean that you are no longer in need of treatment.
As for help and support, continue to stay connected to those who uphold your recovery throughout your life. This will be instrumental in maintaining recovery for the long term.
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About the Author: Crystal is a Masters-level Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) with a specialty focus in eating disorders, maternal/child health and wellness, and intuitive eating.
Combining clinical experience with a love of social media and writing, Crystal serves as the Special Projects Coordinator for Eating Disorder Hope/Addiction Hope, where her passion to help others find recovery and healing is integrated into each part of her work.
As a Certified Intuitive Eating Counselor, Crystal has dedicated her career to helping others establish a healthy relationship with food and body through her work with EDH/AH and nutrition private practice.
The opinions and views of our guest contributors are shared to provide a broad perspective of eating disorders. These are not necessarily the views of Eating Disorder Hope, but an effort to offer discussion of various issues by different concerned individuals.
We at Eating Disorder Hope understand that eating disorders result from a combination of environmental and genetic factors. If you or a loved one are suffering from an eating disorder, please know that there is hope for you, and seek immediate professional help.
Last Updated & Reviewed By: Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC on July 25, 2016
Published on EatingDisorderHope.com