Many of us as family caregivers have lived this polarizing, highwire, balancing act of vacillating between hypervigilance and being complacent.

For the first year or so of being a family caregiver of someone with an eating disorder, the vigilance to keep our loved one alive becomes a constant highwire act of hypervigilance. Non-stop. And eventually exhaustion sets in. Complacency often follows due to the exhaustion.

Yesterday Kitty Westin and I were working on her chapter edits for the upcoming Revised Second Edition of “Just Tell Her To Stop” and landed on this topic. So of course, we turned on the video to share with you. LOL. You can see some of our raw, unedited discussion here.

Kitty Westin & Becky Henry  Video Click HERE

Even most highly trained acrobat in the world doesn’t stay on the tightrope all day everyday. They would become exhausted and destroy their bodies.

It’s a process of learning how to find the balance of the level of vigilance needed along with resting, renewing and repairing oneself as the caregiver. Often called “self-care” which can be confusing (that’s another whole article).

When we don’t practice that self-care, we are like the acrobat who will be destroyed by staying on the highwire 24/7.

So HOW does a family caregiver find the appropriate level of vigilance (which by the way is a moving target…)? For we all know all too well how dangerous and deadly eating disorders are. When there are at least 23 people dying every single day from eating disorders we have to be vigilant enough to keep them safe without trying to “fix” them. And without destroying ourselves in the process.

Find your center. Practice self-care. Get lots of support.
Create trust and communication with the rest of the team and then you can feel the safety-net below you on the high wire.

It’s utilizing some, if not all of the concepts I outline in my HUG Kits:


RTC – Residential Treatment Centers
Self Care
Validate, Listen, Acknowledge

Once you’ve got all of this in place and you practice enough, the high-wire becomes a low-wire. We still remain vigilant and we learn to balance without holding that big, long, heavy pole to keep us from falling.

It is a process. And as Kitty and I discussed in the video, it takes a team. A team of professionals AND family working together, remaining firmly united and communicating often to keep one another informed can help our feet be balanced on that fine line between the two dichotomous positions of vigilance and complacency so wily ‘ed’ doesn’t can’t get in through the gaps and cracks and trick us all.

Our loved-one’s (and our) lives depend on it.

When a person in recovery has caregivers who are calmer, more compassionate, and confident; they do better.