Author, Becky Henry, CPCC, ACC
Writes about her experiences as the premier coach for parents and other caregivers of those with eating disorders.
You may recall from my article; What Parents and Health Care Professionals Can Expect from Residential Treatment that the 3rd step necessary for parents is support. Here I’m going into depth on the topic of ‘Support.’
SUPPORT: Get support to fill your cup up. This is the next step to maintaining your physical and mental health and being able to effectively support your child in recovery, calmly. Support is available – reaching out for help for you is okay.
Have you been hearing lately that you need to get support as the caregiver?
What’s up with Becky ALWAYS saying, “Get support to fill your cup up?”
You are likely experiencing what most parents & other caregivers feel. Something like, “What are you talking about? My loved one is very sick and could die and you’re telling me to get support to take care of ME!?”
I get it. Most of us have failed miserably at it…until we figure out it is essential to practice self care and that we need support to be able to do it.
Getting support to practice self-care is essential for our health and wellbeing AND for our loved one.
Most of my clients have tried to be a caregiver 24/7 without an oxygen mask, having an empty cup with holes in it and no visible means of support. This works for a short while…until it doesn’t. Much like a car running out of gas…it will run on fumes for a short distance and then it simply stops.
Please don’t wait until you’re exhausted, bitter, angry, drained, hopeless, feeling helpless, overwhelmed and ready to give up.
One client told me that she resisted my challenges to practice self-care for a long time before she came to a couple of my retreats and then she was able to shift her beliefs about self-care. She’d had long held beliefs that self-care was selfish. That mothers should be martyrs. Good mothers that is…she’s not alone.
Self-care and having support to practice it is not a magic bullet and has no guarantees. I know…life can stink like that sometimes. AND, I can tell you that 100% of the time when my coaching clients have fully embraced getting their oxygen mask on, filling up their cup and diligently practicing self-care…their loved ones have dramatically improved in their recovery.
Did you take that in? That part in bold? (It’s okay to pause and read it again…no speed reading necessary here).
What if someone told you there was 1 THING you could do that would make a difference for your loved one in recovery?
Would you jump for joy? Would you do it now? What if it was something completely opposite of what you thought it SHOULD be?
Most of my coaching clients have told me they would DO ANYTHING to help their loved one move toward recovery more quickly.
I’m telling you now, here is something you CAN DO! (You can jump for joy here…) 😉 Yes, you guessed it, one thing you can do to really make a difference in your loved one’s recovery is get support to practice self-care.
I get it…self-care is not what you want to be told to do…it’s your loved one that is the one that has the deadly mental illness not you right? Right. AND, they need your support. They need you to be CALM, CONFIDENT and COMPASSIONATE.
There is no way to BE those things with an empty cup, an empty cup with lots of holes very likely. Are you following me?
Did you know that “Caregivers are more likely to have a chronic illness than are non-caregivers…” Shultz, Richard and Beach, Scott (1999). Caregiving as A Risk for Mortality: The Caregiver Health Effects Study. JAMA, December 15, 1999, vol. 282, No. 23.
I wish we could click our heels together like Dorothy and instantly we are CALM, CONFIDENT and COMPASSIONATE 24/7. Sadly it doesn’t work like that.
And just HOW you are asking, dear Becky…how do we manage to learn how to BE those things when we are in the middle of a major crisis? (TIP; it requires getting support).
Here are 4 steps to practice self-care while your loved one has an eating disorder. (They’re not as simple as they appear – that is where the support comes in. This stuff is extraordinarily hard. Think Ironman.)
1. Get your oxygen mask firmly in place
2. Fill your cup up
3. Plug the holes in your cup
4. Repeat steps 2 & 3
Support is necessary to do these 4 steps and it’s available. Reaching out for help for you is okay and actually it shows strength. You are strong. Reaching out for support does NOT mean you are weak.
So, for #1 – Getting your oxygen mask in place means getting rest, laying down that which no longer serves you, saying “no” to the non-essentials of life, asking for help. Getting off the rollercoaster. Really. Like, it’s time.
#2 – Filling your cup up looks different for each person. Do those things that give you joy, stop doing as much of what doesn’t give you joy as possible. A few dust bunnies won’t kill anyone. Make a top 10 list of things you enjoy. Do one every day. I wrote an article about this here.
#3 – Plug the holes in your cup by laughing, watching laughing baby videos, walk with a friend (furry or otherwise), get support, let go of pretending that everything is okay…it’s not…you’re in crisis.
This is the next step to maintaining your physical and mental health…you just heard why that matters? Now, will you do ANYTHING to help your loved one in recovery? What’s stopping you? Lack of support? Beliefs that it’s selfish?
How are you being able to effectively support your child in recovery?
What would it be like at your house if you had the skills and support to communicate calmly with your loved one?