ED Q&A: How Have You Been Supported?
We recently asked people in recovery from an eating disorder to share their thoughts about the illness. We hope these insights from those who have "been there" help if you're seeking answers and understanding. A big thanks to everyone who contributed to this post and to all the supportive friends and family out there.
These are personal perspectives; everyone will have unique experiences on their own path to recovery and beyond. Some stories may mention eating disorder thoughts, behaviors or symptom use. Please use your own discretion. And speak with your therapist when needed.
Today's question: What is the best thing someone has done to support you?
My parents went to a Friends & Family informational meeting without me having to ask them. When I saw the papers they'd received on the table later, I felt so loved and supported.
Provided me a positive escape to refocus my thoughts. In my case it was horses.
Realized how hard it is.
Let me know I was loved no matter what, even when I was pretty unlovable and not fun to be around. Also, they learned about eating disorders and came to family and friends support nights.
Said, "I'm here for you. How can I help?"
Cared about my life when I didn't.
Noticed the signs of me suffering.
Directed me to The Emily Program to learn, understand, and start treatment for BED.
I think the best thing people have done to support me during my recovery was validating my feelings and not making me feel like I'm crazy. I may have anxiety over a food item, and instead of judging me for it, they recognized how real of a feeling it is for me, and are there to support me through either that meal or telling me it's okay not to challenge something at this moment.
Not talking about weight or food.
Attended therapy sessions and became informed about eating disorders (reading books, recovery stories, support groups).
Simply put, just being there for me. Knowing when I was at my weakest point and being there for me.
My sister wrote a very heartfelt piece about my ED. My brother sent me a very encouraging text each time I was discharged prematurely from treatment. I often remember his words, "make ED your bitch."
Crossed off food labels of everything in the house. It showed they cared.
Offered to listen when I just needed an ear. My thinking was often irrational, and I sometimes just needed to say things out loud.
Complimented me on anything but my body. "You look happy!" or "You look confident!" feels way better than "look how skinny you are!"
Listen, acknowledge my feelings, and hold me accountable.
The best support I've received is from people who simply let me know that they are there for me: there to listen to my struggles and triumphs and to love me through the process.
Literally asking, "Is there anything I can do for you right now?"
My boyfriend would just hold me after a rough therapy session and let me cry it all out. It was really helpful and cathartic.
Listened to me, instead of trying to fix me, because I'm not broken.
Tough love. They didn't coddle or sugar coat things.
Written words of encouragement and consistently spent time with me doing things outside of treatment.
Accepting me for who I am unconditionally. And not assuming I'm doing great just because I'm weight restored.