Caring can be exhausting

When you are caring for someone with an eating disorder, it can be very easy to put aside your own needs to respond to the crisis.

After all, as the primary carer, you are providing the care they need on their recovery journey.

For families participating in treatment models like FBT, this can be particularly intense and require carers to be on duty constantly.

Eating disorders are not linear, and the road to recovery is not an easy one. Many carers and families experience symptoms of fatigue, trauma, insomnia and stress. This can impact on their ability to care for their loved one.

There is also a range of emotions that can accompany being a carer – uncertainty and fear over the future. Conflict and arguments around meals can cause tension, which can be difficult to live with. 

Carer and parental guilt

Many parents and carers experience guilt for a number of different reasons:

  • You wish your child was well, but this illness is something that can’t be fixed quickly.
  • You feel you are neglecting your other children and that you can’t devote enough time to them while a member of the family is unwell.
  • You can’t focus clearly at work because you’re overwhelmingly worried and frightened for your unwell child.

Seek your own support

When things are difficult and overwhelming, it can be hard to see how things can get better. Connecting with others who share a similar experience can help you find a caring support system, and see there is hope of recovery.

Take time for yourself

It’s pretty clear what the message is here. And yes, while it sounds simple, and we put it on our to-do list, more often than not we neglect to take on board suggested self-care practices. But for your own state of wellbeing and those of the other members of your family, make sure to take some time for yourself. 

It will help you to care more effectively for a longer period of time, not overreact to signs of a setback,  and help you come out of this process intact as an individual and as a family.

If your loved one is suffering with an eating disorder you must take time to look after yourself.
  • Take time for hobbies or interests that nourish you
  • Get a massage
  • Catch up with a friend for coffee
  • Put the headphones on and listen to inspiring music
  • Negotiate nights away between your spouse and you (going away together may be impossible for a while)
  • Practise yoga and mindfulness 
  • Call for help from families and friends 
  • Let someone else cook some meals
  • Ask others to focus on siblings, take them out for a meal and away from the family distress.
  • Join EDFA’s Recharge 4 Recovery campaign – recharge yourself with our 30-day of self-care, all the while help fund our services that support carers. Sign up for Recharge 4 Recovery.