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Celebrations can be stressful for Scottish carers supporting a loved one with an eating disorder, but we're here to help

A Scottish parent who supported her daughter during her eating disorder recovery says that celebrations like Christmas can be very difficult for carers. Emma was supported by Beat during her daughter’s illness, to help develop ways to look after herself whilst also guiding her daughter towards recovery.

We provided over 7 times more support sessions to people in Scotland between November and December 2021 in comparison to the same time period in 2019. This included helping people with eating disorders but also carers, parents, siblings and partners who were caring for a loved one with an eating disorder. We also provided over 65% more support sessions during November and December 2021 in comparison to the same time period in 2020.

To help carers feel less isolated during this time of year, we have opened spaces for our free online support programme, Coping with Celebrations. Our course includes:

Emma Broadhurst, a carer who supported her daughter during her eating disorder recovery says: ‘For most families, celebrations are fun, laughter-filled times of year. As a family we love Christmas and everything it brings, but when my daughter was unwell with her eating disorder it took on a whole different meaning. With more food around, eating at different times from normal, shorter, darker days, and a big focus on food it was very stressful and difficult to help my daughter navigate eating disorder thoughts and behaviours. 

‘The best thing I ever did was attend Beat’s Coping with Celebrations course. It is a really practical, helpful course, lead by clinicians who completely understand what’s going on and suggest helpful ways to overcome the challenges and quieten the eating disorder voice.

‘This will be our third year in recovery and I still have the chat with my daughter each Christmas about how things are going and what we can do to ensure the day is easier for her. I now know that any celebration will be fun and relaxing for everyone and that the eating disorder won’t be making an appearance around our table.’

Kirsty Pavey, Beat’s National Lead for Scotland, says: ‘We know that celebrations can be an isolating and stressful time for those with eating disorders and their loved ones, and it can be difficult to know how to navigate these times of year. We’ve been experiencing a year-on-year increase in demand for eating disorder support during the festive season, and we wouldn’t be surprised if 2022 becomes our most contacted year yet.

‘We designed our Coping with Celebrations programme as a safe, supportive space for carers to share their experiences, hear from others in similar situations, and receive guidance. Carers can play such an important part in a person’s recovery, and we’d recommend that anybody who is currently supporting a loved one reaches out to us.’

How can I get support?

Our Coping with Celebrations workshops are available for carers across the UK until mid-December 2022. You can sign up here.

We support people affected by eating disorders every day of the year, including bank holidays and weekends. You can find out more about our Scotland online support groups, web chat and helpline here.

Based in Wales, England or Northern Ireland? You can find support here.