Being there for your loved one
You are vital.
It has been proven. Research shows that the chance of a full recovery is greater with strong effective support from family and friends.
A family member/ carer can be instrumental in all stages of recovery: diagnosis, treatment, relapse and maintenance. Every case is individual, the treatment and recovery journey may take many years and a carer’s role in this can be demanding and tiring.
As discussed in Your Role as Carer, ideally, the carer’s role is focused on social and emotional support of your loved one.
However, you may find yourself the key point of contact for a team of health professionals (GP, nutritionist, psychologist, etc.) as well as providing meal support.
Supporting a loved one with an Eating Disorder can be challenging, carers often experience stress and strain as a result of their role.
Learning to manage the stress and strain is an important part of the journey. It can be help you communicate more effectively and provide an environment that supports recovery.
If you would like guidance on how to manage carer stress and strain, contact the EDQ Carer and Family team here.
It’s okay to make mistakes
Getting the balance right when supporting your loved one is challenging.
It is important to be kind to yourself when you make a mistake. If you can, you might like to take a break, have some space, or do something nice for yourself. It can be helpful to take time to reflect on how you might want to approach things differently next time. You might like to acknowledge the mistake to your loved one. This role models to your loved one that it’s okay to make mistakes, we can learn from them and continue moving forward.
Revisit the reading on Carer roles from Skills-Based Caring for a Loved One with an Eating Disorder Chapter 5, pages 42-55– Caring Styles.
Everyone involved in your loved one’s recovery has a different role. The support and encouragement of family and friends is vital. It can be helpful to reach out for information, support and connection to help with understanding your role as carer and how you can support your loved one with their recovery.
As a family member or friend, you cannot deal with all the problems associated with the disorder. Your role as a family member or friend is unique and something that a therapist can’t be, just as the therapist’s role is something a family member or friend can’t take on.
When things get too emotional between you and the person you are caring for, it’s best to pause, explain that you need ‘down time’ and remember the big picture.
To help manage carer stress and fatigue, it is helpful to set aside time for enjoyable and meaningful activities. These might be with friends, family members, partner, or by yourself. Finding ways to recharge is important and beneficial for your mental, emotional and physical wellbeing.
It may be helpful for you to access a counsellor for yourself or a support group to connect with other carers.
There are a number of Carer Peer Support Groups – some specific to eating disorders (Butterfly Foundation and EDQ), some for mental illness (Richmond Fellowship Qld and ARAFMI) and other general carer groups (Carers QLD).
- F.E.A.S.T around the dinner table forum is also a great support to many carers.
- Butterfly Foundation Support groups Parents and Adult Carers Groups are for any adult who is a carer of someone with an eating disorder; this may be a parent, partner, grandparent, friend or other carer. Conversation will focus on the carers’ experiences, and on topics that may help carers to cope better with an eating disorder in the home. Second Monday of the month from 7:00pm – 8:30pm AEST.
- Develop some resilience in yourself Mental Health Resource for Carers. Online program designed to support carers of people who have a mental illness living in Queensland. An easy to work thorough series of sections to reduce confusion around the mental health system and some skills and strategies for coping and doing the right thing.
The process to eating disorder recovery can take years. It can also affect your financial security. So taking care of yourself financially is helpful to both you and the one you are caring for.
If you are doing a lot of support you may be able to access Centrelink payments via the ‘Carer Allowance’. There are a number of rules regarding this process. So it may be helpful to talk with one of the resource workers from Carers Queensland.They have valuable knowledge of the system and managing its intricacies.
- Health insurance
It is helpful to look into health insurance, your loved one may be eligible for health insurance rebates depending on their coverage or if they included in your policy.
- Free Sessions: Mental Health Treatment Plan
A GP should develop a Mental Health Treatment Plan (and/ or and Chronic Illness treatment plan) for the person with the eating disorder. This process entitles a number of medicare rebate mental health sessions and/or complementary health sessions with eligible practitioners.
Note: Your GP can also develop a mental health treatment plan for you if you are stressed. This will give you access to services to help manage the stress and the impact a carer’s responsibilities can have on your life.
National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS)
The NDIS supports eligible families and carers of those looking after a loved one with an intellectual, physical, cognitive and/ or psychosocial disability. For more information on the NDIS, click here.
ARAFMI has developed a Carer Coach training series to support carers navigate the NDIS. For more information, click here.
Skill-Based Learning for Caring for a Loved One with an Eating Disorder Second Edition
Janet Treasure, Grainne Smith and Anna Crane
Equips carers with the skills and knowledge needed to support and encourage those suffering from an eating disorder, and to help them to break free from the traps that prevent recovery.
If you need help, reach out.
If you need assistance, or are interested in any eating disorder services, get in touch.
We can help with more information, referrals and/or arrange an assessment appointment.
You can also contact us through Eating Disorders Queensland
Eating Disorders Queensland 89 Sherwood Road, Toowong Qld 4066