Professionals tell us, “Relapse is a normal part of recovery, and that it should be expected.” While this statement may not provide much comfort initially to caregivers and parents, it does depict the reality of an eating disorder and can provide peace when relapse does happen. Many sufferers feel as though they have failed if they have relapsed and need to seek more treatment; however, relapse does not equal failure.
The feeling of failure is one of the most difficult perceptions a sufferer can have. When a person has an eating disorder, they experience many self-defeating thoughts. These thoughts can, in turn, exacerbate their eating disorder, contributing further to their relapse. Failure is one of the circumstantial thoughts that can perpetuate the cycle of an eating disorder. As parents or caregivers, it is important to remember this in order to better support your child or family member.
While this is a trying time, it is not hopeless, and there are several things that can help with coping. If you are a caregiver, coping strategies include talking about it with someone. You may want to consider seeking your own therapist, as an eating disorder does not solely affect the sufferer. Finding your own therapist may help if you notice that you are getting worn down by your family member’s eating disorder, or if you are blaming yourself. It is also important to set aside time for yourself, and to practice self-care, such as doing things you enjoy.
If you are struggling with an eating disorder, there are also various ways to cope in a healthy manner. One such way is to keep a journal and write in it regularly. Just as it is important for your family members to practice self-care, it is useful for you to do the same. This includes doing activities and hobbies that bring you joy. Using distractions is also helpful, as it detracts from the eating disorder thoughts, symptoms and feelings of failure. Calling a trusted friend is also a great, healthy coping strategy.
Remember, just because you have relapsed does not mean you are a failure, so do not let those self-defeating thoughts creep in.
Five Self-Care tools for caregivers and those in recovery:
- Use distractions
- Call a trusted friend
- Meditate – Breathe
Please share your experiences of an eating disorder relapse in yourself or your loved one and how you got through it successfully. This can help you and others.
Thanks for respectfully sharing your thoughts.
Written by Hope Network, LLC Intern Kylie MacLeod and edited by Founder, Becky Henry