Archive for the ‘Friends and Family’ Category

What Helps?

Sunday, May 16th, 2010

On Monday, I did a question and answer session with a load of health care professionals based in the East of England. There were (I think) a good mixture of nurses, GPs, psychologists, CAMHS, crisis teams, treatment centre managers…That kind of thing.

Because the week was rapidly sucked into a whirlpool and I have spent most of it trying to catch up with myself, I have only just started to process what we said; and, interestingly – although probably unsurprisingly – the question that arose in each of the groups I talked with was: “what are the things that really helped?”

I have talked, extensively, about what doesn’t help.

The Right Distance?

Saturday, November 28th, 2009

When I was a teenager, I was offered £500 to stop smoking. Even though £500 was a fortune to a penniless 17 year old; I failed at the first hurdle. When you’re addicted to something, a rational argument does not always equate.

The outcome? I remained a penniless teen – who couldn’t even give up smoking and had therefore thrown away the easiest £500 she had ever been – or would ever be – offered; whilst appearing ungrateful to the well-meaning sponsors and letting them down in the process -

The lesson? The rules are different when you’re dealing with head stuff and when you’re overwhelmed by an addiction. A little distance is imperative and you can’t start adding new things into the mix without a touch of caution – because it can all get horribly confused.

The ‘How Do I Help’ Question

Wednesday, November 25th, 2009

I keep being asked what friends and family can do to make it better.

Coming from the other side, I’m only just beginning to realise the wide net that an eating disorder can cast.

There’s a horrible urgency and a desperation in the ‘how to help’ discussion that I seem to have been completely oblivious to–

People are not as judgemental as my eating disorder had had me believe: they want to help.

Family and Friends

Thursday, August 27th, 2009

I’m not sure that I’m quite qualified to write this bit. I only have the faintest inkling of how hard it must be for family and friends. I don’t want to presume their feelings.

I don’t want to write their experience wrong.

I imagine there are some adjectives that fit – angry, frustrated, scared, hurt, sad, confused, desperate – but don’t do justice to the feelings.

I imagine that there are questions and accusations and things coming out the wrong way and things not coming out at all – but I don’t want to own their experiences.

My eating disorder had a nasty habit of taking precedence.

I won’t.

People Power

Tuesday, August 25th, 2009

We don’t like to tell people when we’re trying something new.

A challenge is always better when the anticipated failure is private: it’s bad enough to let yourself down. Plus, telling people puts the pressure on – it means that you actually have to go through with it.

It also means that you don’t have to go through with it on your own.

You can’t beat a little people power. It’s got me where I am today – and it’ll probably get me where I want to be tomorrow.

A Listening Ear

Friday, July 17th, 2009

An objective listener is a godsend. A non-judgemental pair of ears makes all the difference.

Eating disorders thrive on secrecy: just by sitting and listening, you’ve got one over on it.

Just by offering a different perspective, you’re challenging its supremacy.

You don’t need to do anything. You don’t need to make it all better – just listen, please.


A Good Example

Thursday, July 9th, 2009

Copying other people is part of human nature. We get a little bitchy about it sometimes – the “she’s wearing my outfit” line – but really, most things are down to emulation; learning by looking.

When you are ill, the blinkers are on. When you’re getting better, you need a way of re-connecting.

Throughout my recovery, I’ve used other people as a way of challenging my eating disorder head; as a contradiction to the behaviour that my illness deemed ‘normal’. They probably didn’t realise it – and it probably wouldn’t have worked if they were playing a part – but you need to aim for something when you’re on a rocky sea.

Learning from example gave me the guidance I needed.

Taking the Hard Line –

Wednesday, July 8th, 2009

By my last hospital admission, the drizzle of cards and flowers and visitors had virtually dried up.

It wasn’t that people didn’t care anymore: it was just that ten years of hospital admissions had sapped them dry. They hadn’t stopped loving me: it was just that they’d got used to being ignored.

At the time, it hurt like hell – hard lessons are not always comfortable – but it made the choice a lot clearer: stay ill and alone – or get better and back in touch.

Sometimes, the brutal truth is more helpful than tea and sympathy.

Sometimes, it’s fairer – on both parts – to lay the cards on the table.

They didn’t disappear – they just stood back and waited.