It’s not always easy to figure out how we can best assist our pals. Particularly in the case of an eating disorder. In most cases, we don’t even know how to help ourselves, much less others. Despite the fact that these recommendations aren’t foolproof in all situation, they’ll provide you a good concept of what to do.
If you’re not sure what that means, read on.
In the event that some of my readers are unfamiliar with the term “eating disorder,” I’d like to remind them. When it comes to defining an eating disorder, it has traditionally been defined as an unhealthy eating pattern, excessive exercise, and an obsessive focus on weight or shape. This is an extremely broad classification. An eating problem can be diagnosed in a variety of additional ways, and the criteria for doing so are constantly evolving.
Anorexia nervosa was once diagnosed by the absence of a menstrual cycle, for example. Menstruation is now possible for women of all weights, including those who are severely underweight. Those who will never experience a menstrual cycle (men) and young children who have not yet reached puberty are also considerations. As a result, the lack of a menstrual cycle is no longer utilized to diagnose anorexia nervosa.
What You Can Do To Assist A Friend Who Has An Eating Disorder.
Take the time to learn about yourself.
Having a greater understanding of something is a direct result of having more knowledge about it. You’ll never be an authority on anorexia, I can tell you that from personal experience. It’s impossible to be an expert even if you’ve suffered from an eating issue yourself. Even if we could manage them, we’d have a hard time comprehending them. That being said, a kitchen knife is better than nothing when it comes to combat.
Beat and The Eating Disorder Association for Northern Ireland are just two of the many resources available for those interested in learning more about eating disorders. Body Whys and the National Association for Eating Disorders are also available if you live outside the United Kingdom or in the Republic of Ireland. There are a plethora of materials available on any of these websites to assist you begin to understand your friend’s eating issue.
If you have any questions, don’t be scared to ask for help. Even though I’m not an expert nor a medical professional, I’m here to provide a sympathetic ear to anyone who needs one.
If they haven’t already done so, encourage them to get professional assistance.
If your friend is in denial or isn’t interested in obtaining help, this may be more difficult than you think. The first steps might be frightening, even when we are aware that we have a problem. You can only gently guide and encourage them toward assistance; you cannot compel them to accept it.
For a variety of reasons, they may be reluctant to accept assistance. Stigma, embarrassment, and even apprehension about interfering are just a few examples. The eating-disordered voice reinforced my own reluctance, I can say that from personal experience. Treatment frightened me because it implied that I would have to eat, and gaining weight was something I detested. In actuality, it was the fear of losing control that fuelled my reluctance to get treatment that was the real motivator.
But don’t force them
In spite of your best intentions, you cannot make people seek help. That’s something I can’t emphasize enough! Forcing your way through things will only lead to resentment and even damage your relationship. No matter how many times you offer to assist them in seeking treatment, if they refuse to seek it, your efforts will be in useless. It’s up to the individual to decide whether or not they want to become better and when they are ready to do so.
Demonstrate Your Empathy And Concern For Others
Anyone who has suffered from an eating disorder knows how draining, disorienting, and debilitating it can be. Many people experience a condition known as “emotional paralysis,” in which they are unable to feel anything. Even if the latter maintains, there is still a certain level of internal unrest lurking in the shadows. It’s crucial to keep going with as much patience and understanding as you can, even if it’s difficult. It’s best to let them know that you’re there for them and that you care without going over the top.
Wait for a while! Even though we’re listening, we’re taking it all in, it might be overwhelming in the midst of an eating disorder.
Refrain from Using Phrases Such as “Just Eat”
There’s no denying that eating disorders are difficult to treat. Co-morbid problems such as body dysmorphia, anxiety and perfectionism frequently accompany them, despite the assumption that they’re all about eating. Eating disorders can make even simple tasks feel like a grueling marathon to those who suffer from the illness. Disordered thoughts are significantly more difficult to ignore, and unfortunately our brains have no barrier between the logical and disordered sections.
Try something like this instead:
Whatever is going on, I want to know more about it. I’d like to know how you feel after eating.
Don’t Let Them Go Alone
Having an eating disorder may be a lonely experience, no matter what time of day it is. We prefer to keep individuals at a distance out of concern that we may be found out. The fear persists even though the disorder is in the open. Until I was about halfway through my rehabilitation and preparing to leave the hospital, I had no idea how much of a jerk I had been. All in the sake of a disease that was hell-bent on seeing me die. Let us know if you’re ready to fight back! Because of my own personal experience, I can empathize with the difficulty of overcoming these conditions. But it doesn’t have to be anything more complicated than assisting with mealtimes, assisting with distractions later, or simply being available on the phone.
There’s a big difference between wanting you out of their life and wanting the eating disorder to go away. And despite the difficulties, it is in everyone’s best interest to fight back against the disorder.
When you’re around them, it’s best to keep your composure.
A kind Twitter follower recommended this to me, and I can’t emphasize enough how critical it is. Maintaining your composure is critical while dealing with someone who is suffering from a mental condition. Especially if you’re with someone who’s going through something difficult. Even though it’s easy to get caught up in the moment, it’s critical to take a step back and consider your options. Fear is a normal reaction, especially if you have anxiety disorders like OCD or OCD-like symptoms. Nonetheless, it isn’t going to have all the answers.
Avoid Talking About Weight Loss in the Company of Others
This can have a long-term effect even if you don’t mention your weight or dieting to them directly. It can occupy their thoughts and lead to a diet-related experiment. Even now, I’m adamantly opposed to any discussion of food in my company. While I let my friends to have their talks, I simply ask them not to talk about calories, etc. while I am around. Most of them are aware of and respectful of my position on diet culture. Those who refuse to do so will have to deal with my departure. Rude? Maybe. Even if the patient has been discharged, a recurrence can still occur.
Keep in mind that these are the same individuals with whom you became friends.
They aren’t the cause of the chaos! It’s vital to remember that even though they may appear to be different from the person you remember, it’s the disorder speaking and it’s crucial to keep that in mind. Especially in trying times. Neither they, nor anybody else, is in charge of this. Mental illness, like a physical illness, is not a choice.
Take care of your body and your mind
Taking care of oneself is just as important as taking care of others. We can’t pour from an empty cup, after all. Don’t allow yourself burn out and don’t be ashamed of requiring a break from your job. Take up a creative hobby or enter a therapy session as a means of coping with your feelings. You must always remember to put your own health and well-being ahead of the requirements of others. Self-care is not a selfish act!