My daughter suffered from restrictive Anorexia Nervosa from age 16 until 22. She was underweight and malnourished, and required seven hospital admissions over these years.
It was tough. I was in an active caring role for 6 years.
Her eating disorder put a huge stress on all relationships in the family. We lost sleep, family celebrations and holidays. Caring for Claire took over everything, and we didn’t have a life for several years
It affected everyone in our family. Claire’s younger sister also had a severe medical illness at the same time, and Claire wasn’t able to be there for her. Unfortunately this caused a rift not yet healed. Claire’s sibling was, and still is hurt and angry.
There are a few things I wish I’d known before starting this recovery journey.
I wish I’d known how long recovery takes and how all-encompassing the journey is!
I wish we had known about doing FBT with compassion and validation.
I wish I’d had negotiated an Advanced Care plan in the beginning of treatment, rather than towards the end… as it helped define care when/if Claire was unable to speak for herself.
…and that having the right team around you and your child supports everyone towards recovery.
I did a carer skills program, which helped me find the right words and language to use with my daughter. Claire had a peer mentor, and we found the support we needed through EDFA – support groups, lived experience, advice. We found family and friends didn’t understand, and we felt our parenting was judged.
I took the time out to walk the dog each day, continued to work and maintain a few activities outside of the home. I joined a book club to have some time out. I spent hours writing letters to Claire I would never send. It was cathartic.
It has been a long journey, but there is light.
These days I enjoy shopping with my D and the joy she has towards her healthier, curvier body which I love to help clothe! Claire has been in strong recovery since age 22. She is now 23, weight restored, lives and works independently. She is even back eating meat!
My tips for other carers.
Get support for yourself and your loved one ASAP
Upskill as much as you can. Knowledge is power.
Learn the language of care and compassion and see your role in supporting recovery not forcing it.