Contributor: Kim Axford, author of Surviving Anorexia – eating disorder recovery – our family’s journey through anorexia.
This ‘resource pack’ I have created comes from our family recovery journey when my daughter was very sick with anorexia. You are the frontline attack and the best strength for your son or daughter’s recovery. An eating disorder affects all the family. Accepting what has happened, gain knowledge of this illness and fight for recovery.
Read, read, read.
Eating disorder autobiographies.
Learn to separate.
Fathers are important too.
Information on symptoms, long term health problems, treatment, research. The best approach you can have is being as fully informed as you can be. On my Book Resources and Resource Links pages I have read all the books or visited all the sites to make sure they are of real value. The aim of anything you learn about eating disorders is to be focussed on the recovery of your daughter or son.
Yes, they can be scary, but you need to hear the hope that these sufferers offer for recovery. No two families are the same, what some go through you may not have, what works for them may not work for you. Books give knowledge that you are not alone and critically, help you understand about eating disorder thinking and behaviours.
Your son or daughter is NOT the eating disorder. The behaviour, things they say or do, is not them. It is the ED. The ED will fight for it’s survival during treatment, it will lash manipulatively, verbally and physically. It is less hurtful if you remember your child is not doing this personally.
Family, friends, personal counsellor or doctor ¬– who respect, care, listen, hug, feed you etc. Talk to other parents of eating disorder sufferers – very valuable. Some friends disappear because they don’t understand how consuming it is with an ED in the house.
They should not refuse to discuss or dis-allow your input into treatment options. Family-based-therapy means you are all involved ¬¬– it’s a whole family illness. As parents you know your child best.
Life continues. If your significant relationship isn’t cared for it can crash and burn. Communicate well so you are both on the same page for each other and your child’s recovery. Get ‘time-out’ where you are NOT talking or thinking about eating disorders. Easier said then done, I know.
Finding exactly works for recovery takes time. You cannot force solutions, so be prepared to be patient. Have no expectations and don’t put expectations onto your son or daughter.
There is no guilt. Guilty feelings will hamper recovery progress. No one is to blame for the eating disorder arriving at your house.
For questions and comments you are going to get. Remember that most people have no idea about ED’s and find it hard to respond appropriately.
This isn’t a ‘mum only zone’. A lot of fathers fear involvement or offer ‘fix-it’ help. Be involved in the refeeding, appointments and daily care.