In September 2018, our 11-year-old son was diagnosed with anorexia, depression and anxiety. Since then, we have had ups and downs, progress and setbacks. Our struggles continue.
During this rollercoaster we’ve been very lucky. We had a prompt diagnosis from his GP who referred us quickly to the CAMHS service, who in turn gave us a speedy referral to the nearest Eating Disorder Team.
Although support has been great, the biggest barrier we have found is improving our knowledge of eating disorders and how to support our son. I have found there is a lack of information for carers, resulting in needing to hunt out the support and information from charities (e.g. Beat) and my own research through Google.
We didn’t identify it at the time, but the wider impact of supporting someone with an eating disorder is the effect on siblings. It has recently come out that his two sisters have been really impacted. As a parent, it is this balancing of the demands of caring for someone with the eating disorder whilst also caring for the wider family and the associated guilt that is the struggle.
Eating disorders can have a corrosive effect on the whole family – not just those immediately close but extended as well. Don’t underestimate the effect it has. The right support and information helps family and loved ones understand and provide the love and support needed for everyone.
My advice for carers in the same situation:
You just have to remember to be there for them when they need you and gently nudge them in the right direction.
I feel very lucky to have found a support group – but it would have been wonderful if this had been available more locally.
On 8 July 2019, the Victoria Derbyshire show discussed the state of eating disorder treatment and the importance of family empowerment. One parent whose daughter has been ill with anorexia for eight years shares her experience.