Loving someone who suffers from anorexia can be terrifying, as you stand by helpless watching the person you care for fade before your eyes as they continually refuse nourishment. You hover on eggshells alert to any opportunity to persuade, yet caught up in their volatile moods and unable to reassure their pervasive restlessness and anxiety. You are suspicious of their refusal to eat in front of other people, of their frequent claims of having eaten already as they become excessively fussy about what they will eat, and of their increasingly secretive and defensive attitude around food. Wearing increasingly baggy clothes to hide the extent of their weight loss you witness their withdrawal into isolation from you, from family and from friends.
What can you do…? Our popular Family Group on Tuesday evenings is a valued resource and vital first step for many family members, providing education and support, and where many families and partners begin their own recovery journey.
But for you the anorexic, it’s a little different. Although you can experience flashes of fear as the reality of the danger of your weight loss hits home, the process of ‘not needing’ feels safe, and any weight gain can be experienced as a threat to your defences. So you choose to continue to restrict as a way of coping with your crippling feelings of anger, shame, guilt, fear and self-loathing, as a way to hold on to some sense of control. But this sense of control is an illusion, and the eating disorder inevitably takes complete control … of everyone. Looking thin and fragile you resist the onset of adulthood and hide in the body of a child, attracting the caretaking you crave but also the very micromanagement which causes you to withdraw further into yourself. How do you break this cycle…?
Well, we have to begin to work together, first individually then in pairs or as a family, understanding how this illness has affected you all and then slowly but carefully unpicking the negative patterns, and guiding you towards healthier eating, more honest communication and clearer boundaries, gaining perspective in good self esteem. Readmore +
At CHARTER we have an impressive track record of helping people gain exactly this kind of recovery from an eating disorder. This is because we don’t only focus on the food and we work with the family wherever possible. Alongside the nutritional guidance (and sometimes residential care) that supports weight gain for the anorexic, we also understand that the pattern of restricting is central to what keeps that person feeling safe. That need to take such extreme measures to feel safe or in control has usually been triggered by a difficult or traumatic event where the person felt dangerously out of control. Attending to this memory and all the other ‘evidence’ gathered along the way that justifies the anorexic behaviour is a fundamental step in achieving a sustainable recovery. This is then followed by a process of resourcing that person so that their belief that they can be safe in the world is restored. This journey can be a slow process, but our outcomes tell us that if you stick with it and follow direction, you will get well, and we will walk beside you every step of the way.
There are many serious medical risks associated with anorexia. They include shrunken bones, mineral loss, low body temperature, irregular heartbeat, permanent failure of normal growth and development of osteoporosis. Other effects of anorexia are constipation and abdominal pain, dizzy spells and feeling faint, a bloated stomach, puffy face, poor blood circulation and feeling cold. Laxative abuse is extremely harmful to the body: it can wear out the bowel muscle and causes it to decrease in function.
We are always happy to answer any questions you may have so just give us a call to see if we can help. Some members of our team are in long term recovery from eating disorders themselves so know what it’s like to stand where you are standing. But you can get well; we know you can, because we have seen it happen over and again, one step at a time.
Or make an appointment with the assessment team so you have a better understanding of your options and of how we can help you to make a plan for your recovery. Just pick up the phone or fill in an Enquiry Form and we can work together from there.
You might find the information in our PDF library useful. You can download more detailed information about anorexia and other eating disorders.PDF LIBRARY
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