Founder, Board Member, Director
“My daughter became seriously ill with Anorexia Nervosa in 2013, and I personally experienced the isolation and desperation so many parents and carers experience. It was harrowing.
I realised there was a major gap in the system to support the carers of people with eating disorders. These parents and carers go through incredible mental stress and emotional fatigue, as well as physical exhaustion and financial challenges.”
In 2016, Christine Naismith helped start up Eating Disorders Families Australia.
Although her daughter was now recovered, Christine says this was the scariest and most challenging time of her life. She felt she could help others from the knowledge she’d gained along the way from reading, research and lived experience as a carer.
“I know how tough it is on the entire family unit when an eating disorder presents itself. I had no idea previously how awful these mental illnesses really are and despite my explaining to family and friends, they just did not ‘get it’. I know the empowerment that comes from connecting with others who are living this ordeal and being able to share my story of hope, courage, fear and resilience. Educating families and reducing the stigma around eating disorders so they are more openly talked about means better chance of earlier detection and urgent action to treat, which then gives the best chance of a shorter duration of illness and a full recovery.”
With over 1,000,000 Australians having eating disorders and Anorexia Nervosa having the highest mortality rate of all mental illnesses, Christine Naismith and the founding members realised there were many families in need of support as they try to help their loved ones.
“My desire is to connect parents, partners and carers of people with eating disorders, with other carers who truly understand the daily challenges, ongoing worries and how overwhelming the feelings of exhaustion or hopelessness can be, while on this road to support their loved one towards recovery. Knowing you are not alone in this battle, having your feelings heard and validated, sharing ideas to help one another and informing others on helpful resources can be so beneficial.
I hope other parents and carers will feel less isolated, better informed and more confident in caring for their loved ones with eating disorders. By sharing the latest knowledge and research, personal insight and resources available, we are empowering families to be stronger advocates for their loved ones and more compassionate and effective carers.”
Carers need a space to be heard, validated and to connect with others who personally understand what they are going through.
As a mum of three, Christine Naismith has survived the challenges of FBT, and is grateful her child has recovered from Anorexia Nervosa. She is also supporting her youngest child through ARFID and understands the challenges this illness brings. She attends many Eating Disorder conferences and is firmly focused on continually learning about the latest in evidence-based treatments and holistic programs to help people with eating disorders.
A pharmacist, Christine has enjoyed helping people in the community for much of her career.
“I recently sold my pharmacies to focus on my volunteer role of helping families dealing with eating disorders, as I have seen the great difference this peer-led support can make.
More and more families are needing support. There are escalating problems around body image, eating, food, isolation and mental health issues.
Clinicians well-trained in eating disorders are hard to find and often booked up well in advance, and specific eating disorder beds in hospitals are incredibly low in number and cannot meet all the community needs.
If I can help other families feel less alone or guide them to a resource or just listen to their concerns, then I know that can make a huge difference to their own wellbeing and mental health. We need to look after the carers who are doing an incredibly difficult job, so that they can last the distance and get their loved one back to good physical and mental health.
I know recovery is possible. I know it is not easy. I know the importance of having hope to keep you going when it feels like there is no fuel left in your tank to continue. That is something I am passionate about sharing.”
In her spare time, Christine enjoys spending time with her dogs, sharing fun times with family and friends, holidays, tennis and connecting with people.
Christine’s top tips for parents and carers on their journey.
Never give up. We know this is super hard and exhausting, but you are not alone. Recovery truly is possible!
Join our statewide strive support groups to feel the connection and support of others.
strive = support, teach, reassure, inform, validate & empower.