Hello Dear Readers,
You’re doing hard things and you’re keeping on. As Glennon Doyle says, “We can do hard things.” I’m back in the USA and making my way West after a stop in the land of ice and snow in Minnesota. We are fortunate to have Intern Anna filling in for me with her hard earned wisdom on the value in checking in on your loved one. ~ Becky
Checking in With an Individual Who Has an Eating Disorder – Intern Anna
During the height of my eating disorder, communication with my family fell apart. I stopped telling them certain things and became withdrawn. On really hard days, I would even lie to my parents about my actions. It was like it had become second nature to me.
The truth was that I didn’t want to have to tell them how bad things had gotten or how disgusted I felt. I wanted to live in my own bubble without communicating with them.
One day I remember my parents checking in with me and explaining that communication was the only way we would be able to resolve this issue. My eating disorder didn’t like that at all. The eating disorder wanted me to stay withdrawn and to continue to let it control my relationship with my family.
I think the biggest motivator for me was when I began to realize that my eating disorder didn’t just involve me. It didn’t only involve me, but also my friends, family, coworkers, fellow students, etc. I was letting my eating disorder control all of my relationships. That made me angry. One of the causes for my eating disorder was that I wanted to be more in control. But ultimately, it led me to be even more out of control and left me feeling like a shell of myself.
My parents wanted me to check in with them and to try my hardest to be as truthful as possible. I understood that communication could help me solve my eating disorder. It wouldn’t take away the feelings of sadness, hatred, and disappointment, but it would allow me to be more in control of my relationships. Sometimes recognizing what we do have control of instead of what we don’t allows us to more often, make better decisions.
I also began to recognize my eating disorder as a voice apart from my own. It was a set of thoughts I would have but it didn’t have to be the most important thought. There were so many other thoughts that I could be focusing on, I was just tuned into this precise one.
I understand it can be extremely hard to check in with someone who has an eating disorder because the ED can demolish communication between you and them. It is also important to recognize that checking in shows that you care and are rooting for them. I didn’t like my parents saying they were on team Anna at first. I thought it was stupid and that I would never change my mind about ED. Slowly though, I could see the control over my relationships returning. I could start to see that my parents were trying to mend our relationship and that they would continue to support me. Checking in is like that last ditch effort to see if the eating disorder can quiet down.
So keep checking in and don’t lose heart. Keep reminding them that they can do it and that you can do it too. Continue to check in with yourself and remember that you’re on team _____.
If you need some support as a caregiver with checking in on someone with an eating disorder, reach out. I’ve trained others to do the work I do so even more families can get the help, hope and tools needed. And now that I’m back in the states, I’m also taking new clients again.