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Eating Disorders If you or someone close to you is struggling with an eating disorder, reach out here to ask questions or to receive support for recovery.

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Heathen Offline
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How to support a close family member with an ED - March 14th 2014, 01:37 AM

Yesterday I learned that my sister is suffering from anorexia. I was stunned by this news, but not entirely surprised. From the time she was very young my sister has been very focused on her eating and exercise habits and maintains rigorous discipline in these areas. When she was in high school her tight control on it began to get out of hand, but she entered therapy and it curbed the dangerous habits that were developing. She had shown the tendencies for an eating disorder, but they didn't progress enough to develop into a full case.

In the years since then she has still been incredibly conscious about her diet and exercises often, but she's only ever been fit. It was this way until last summer, when I noticed her exercising with high intensity and frequency, but she said she was working off a few pounds she gained that semester and I assumed she wanted to maintain a bikini body. She looked healthy, so I shrugged it off.
When she returned for Christmas Break, though, I was immediately concerned. I felt that she'd lost too much weight for her height and frame, but she seemed happy, so I pushed away my concern.

But it turns out I was right to be concerned. The stress of the semester has caused my sister's already eating disorder tendencies to develop into full-blown anorexia. She is coming home to attend a treatment program for people with eating disorders.

I had no idea how bad it was. When my mom told me how much my sister weighs now I cried. I've been through the similar challenge of leaving school for mental health reasons and it breaks my heart my sister is going through this.

I tend to reach out to people when it comes to crises, but I have no real knowledge of how to help someone with an eating disorder. My sister is also a very private person and doesn't talk about her feelings much. She flies home in a couple of days to start treatment. I want to help her feel as comfortable as possible, and I also don't want her to think I'm treating her differently. But, I know her appearance will be shocking, and will take getting used to. I could pretend everything is normal, but that ignores the fact we all know she is home early for a serious reason.

Basically, how can I best support my very emotionally private sister in making a positive recovery from anorexia? Any suggestions are appreciated.

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LlamaLlamaDuck Offline
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Re: How to support a close family member with an ED - March 14th 2014, 09:57 PM

Hey there.

I'm' so sorry your sister is having to go through this. It's not an easy path but recovery is possible so she should definitely be applauded for her strength in making this decision. You are absolutely right that it's probably best not to treat her like she's at death's door or tiptoe around her. Act as normally as possible but make sure she knows you're there for here if she needs you.
You said she's "emotionally private" so that could be part of the reason her eating disorder developed if she couldn't talk about the stress she was under. Hopefully her treatment will help with this and she might be able to open up to you about it.

I want you to take a look at this website: http://www.b-eat.co.uk/get-help/abou...about-someone/
b-eat is a fantastic organisation and there's a link there for siblings of those with eating disorders. If you click that, your computer will download a PDF file with information and advice for you.

The best thing you can do for your sister is be there for her, but don't be overbearing. Don't question her every move or try to force her to eat. This is something she has to do on her own and being pushed faster than she's comfortable with will just send her backwards because she's losing control. Perhaps you could get something for her to use while she's getting her treatment. A journal or scrapbook making kit, a colouring or puzzle book, some arts and crafts things or knitting essentials. Little things like this are invaluable in recovery because they can keep the mind and hands distracted and help to get your emotions out if you're drawing or writing. As long as she knows she is loved and you're there to support her, you're doing everything you possibly can. If you ever need to talk about, feel free to PM me. You might need some support through this too so don't be afraid to reach out.


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Kate* Online
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Re: How to support a close family member with an ED - March 14th 2014, 10:14 PM

Hey Jordan, I'm glad that you want to support your sister through this. I think it's a fine line between "ignoring" the reason that she's home and making a huge deal out of it. If she's entering a treatment program, don't hesitate to ask the professionals how you can help her. If there are family sessions/days and you are welcome, you can support her by attending those. It will also help her to eat with people, as long as you don't watch what she's eating too closely. You can also let her know that you're available to talk if she wants to, and that it's okay if she doesn't want to.

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