My older sister was diagnosed with bulimia when she was 16 years old. Being 10 years younger, I didn’t really understand what was happening at the time.
Mum recognised the warning signs but it was a hard situation to approach. We would hear her purging in the shower after dinner and saw the impact this had on her physically.
We come from a small country town, and resources for eating disorder treatment and therapy was four hours away. My Mum was a big part of the recovery journey – she would take the train with my sister fortnightly to Melbourne to receive the specialist care she needed.
She is now 29, and despite still feeling insecure in her body she has overcome so many hardships to get to where she is today, and I am very proud of her.
A sense of responsibility
As I’ve grown older, I have educated myself and now help my sister whenever she needs me. Being the only family member that now lives close to her, I sometimes feel like I have a sense of responsibility to be there for her and sometimes the pressure from my mother calling me and telling me what to do makes me feel overwhelmed.
I now know the right terminology, and what to say to her in situations when she feels vulnerable and am continually learning new things about eating disorders to educate myself so I know how to support her.
I wish I’d known…
You can’t do this all on your own – seeking professional help is very important and having an open mind to understand how they are feeling can be hard, but remember that they don’t want to be feeling this so becoming frustrated will not solve anything, it will just make things worse.
My sister is still actively participating in therapy, which is beneficial.
I am grateful for the resources that EDFA provide, including tools and resources to help me understand more. I have also participated in The Resilience Project for two years now, and find that Hugh Van Cuylenburg’s insights really help me.
I enjoy watching the sunrise over the beach while looking at all the dogs on their morning walks amongst the sand. I enjoy dancing/singing to my favourite songs.
My advice for others on their caregiving journey?
Be patient, willing to learn, understanding, and open. Give so much love but also remember to look after yourself in the process. You matter as well and your mental health needs to be looked after too.
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