Our wonderful supporter Helen challenged herself to run the Leeds Marathon to raise money for Beat, in support of her sister. Read her story...
Eating disorders can affect anyone, and they impact family and friends too.
My lovely sister, who is 60, has battled anorexia for many years.
After being unwell in her teens and early twenties, she was stable and well for a long time. She got married and had three wonderful boys. But the eating disorder was always lurking in the background and was triggered again when our mum died 10 years ago. My sister deteriorated very badly during lockdown, and it was only when I saw her again after a couple of years that I realised just how bad it had got.
The impact on her close family has been immeasurable. My brother-in-law and nephews have had to watch her deteriorate, family mealtimes are stressful, and things we take for granted that should be pleasurable, like eating out, visiting family and friends, and holidays, just don’t happen.
I have experienced a range of feelings over the years. I worry about her, of course, but feel helpless and don’t know what to do. I worry about saying the wrong thing and making it worse.
Sometimes, I feel resentment and anger towards her, which then makes me feel guilty. I have struggled to understand how she can do this to herself and the people she loves. She resists offers of help from health professionals, friends, and family alike, which is frustrating. She insists she will get better if only everyone would leave her alone - but I know that’s not true.
A couple of years ago, I came to the realisation that I can’t make her better. The way I have coped is by making the decision to not feel responsible anymore, to just be her sister and make her feel loved. She knows she can talk to me, and sometimes she wants to and sometimes she doesn’t. I try my best to offer support and encouragement.
Talking to and sharing my feelings with other people, especially my other siblings, has been a huge help. Most people are supportive, but there is still a lot of ignorance about eating disorders and raising awareness is important.
I have learnt that early treatment from health professionals for eating disorders is vitally important and family members shouldn’t be afraid to ask for help on their behalf.
Last week I ran the Leeds Marathon to raise money for Beat. This was my first ever marathon and was a huge challenge for me. I’ve been training since January, and I’ve had to go out in the dark, rain, wind and snow! I’m thrilled to say that I did it and what a amazing experience it was. The crowds and atmosphere were fantastic. I wanted to raise funds for Beat because I understand that people with eating disorders need support. But their friends and families shouldn’t be forgotten - they are going through the experience too.
My message is not to blame yourself or feel guilty. Get help and support wherever you can, including from Beat, and share your feelings with others.
Visit our handy fundraising hub for all the information you need to get started
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