3 Self-care Tips for the Caregiver
There’s no question that having a child with an eating disorder is one of the most difficult things a parent can experience.
In fact, the research shows it is more difficult to have a child with an eating disorder than to have a child with schizophrenia; despite that fact that schizophrenia is often considered the most serious mental illness of all.
It’s not uncommon to play the Blame Game when you have a child with an eating disorder. However, remember that:
- You didn’t cause your child’s eating disorder, but it is still your responsibility to support their recovery.
- Families do not cause eating disorders, but eating disorders are still a family problem.
During this difficult time in all your lives your focus and energy is probably focused outwardly, but it’s important to be tuned into how well you are meeting your own needs, as well.
Eating disorders traumatize both the person who suffers from the disorder and also the ones who love them. Eating disorders take a toll on family members’ well-being, especially caregivers.
Your life, and the lives of other family members who are involved, cannot revolve around the eating disorder!
Self-care will help you cope with the challenges you are facing. There are a number of ways that you can do that, starting today. Start by asking yourself: What types of self-care do I most enjoy?
Parents may feel guilty — or even responsible — for their loved one’s illness and may even question if they are doing enough to help.
If this seems familiar to you, remember this: you have loved your child. You have done your very best for them, and you always will. You may not have all the answers, but you can learn. Remembering this requires self-compassion. With self-compassion comes the possibility of change and growth. You will learn a lot on the healing journey with your loved one.
Family members often find benefit from being in therapy themselves when dealing with these difficult illnesses. Therapy can help you unburden yourself, develop more effective strategies for supporting your child, and help you set good boundaries.
Physical self-care includes getting enough rest, nourishing your body, exercising, and respecting your body and its needs. Do things that are fun and feel good. A walk in the park, a relaxing massage or acupuncture session may help to reduce stress and improve your mood.
While your loved one is in treatment, we encourage you to stay in touch with your values and continue to work towards your own personal goals. Be mindful of your inner and outer experiences. Engage in practices that make you feel at peace. Honor your feelings and express yourself in healthy ways.
If that little voice in your head expresses guilt over taking the time for self-care, acknowledge the voice and then remind yourself that you will be better able to care for your loved one when you are healthy. Investing in your care will enable you to better oversee your child’s care.