As a family member, friend or roommate, it can be very difficult to watch a person you care about engage in the self-destructive behaviour of an eating disorder. As an outsider you are able to recognize that the eating disorder is actually doing damage to the person you care about. However that is not how it seems to them. Most likely they do not feel properly equipped to handle the outside world and they rectify this by seeking comfort in something they feel they can control—food and dieting. Resistance to treatment is understandable in this light as it is effectively removing the only tools that the individual relies on for coping with his or her emotions.
Providing support in such situations can be extremely challenging. This is especially true for those who are providing long-term support—especially during the recovery process. We would like to emphasize that only the individual with the eating disorder is responsible for his or her own recovery. However, everyone CAN contribute to making it easier.
It might be invaluable to ask yourself the following questions:
- How much do the eating disorder behaviours of your friend or family member interfere with your day-to-day life?
- When should you pull the plug on roommate arrangements?
- Should you be enlisting the support of family and friends? What about medical workers? Never hesitate to seek professional or outside advice if you find yourself confused or becoming emotionally over-burdened.