How much influence do others have in your eating disorder recovery? Are your friends and family members supportive? Or do you find that certain loved ones tend to hinder your recovery efforts in some way?
While friends and family members can make up a strong support system, this isn’t true for everyone. In fact, in some cases certain loved ones may have even had a part in causing the eating disorder. Maybe their parents were abusive, controlling or overly demanding. Perhaps a friend or teammate with an eating disorder encouraged them to start practicing food-related behaviors. It’s possible that a boss or co-worker made the work environment so stressful that, along with other factors, they turned to food-related behaviors in an attempt to cope. When they recognize they have an eating disorder and choose to begin the recovery process, it only stands to reason that they wouldn’t seek support from those who played a part in the onset of the eating disorder.
Even for those who feel they can go to loved ones for support, things don’t always work out as expected. In some situations, they may know those around them won’t be supportive, but due to circumstances, they must tell certain friends, family members or people in the workplace.
For some, husbands may not want their wives to go for inpatient treatment leaving them to take care of children and other home responsibilities. A boss or co-workers may not be flexible when it comes to a person keeping appointments or taking a leave of absence in order to get treatment.
If those around you aren’t supportive, what can you do? Eating disorder recovery is challenging enough without others thwarting your efforts. There are no easy answers for dealing with the negative influence of others during eating disorder recovery, but here are some things to keep in mind.
1. Make the most of the support you DO have. You deserve more support than you’re getting. Try your best, though, to focus on who IS there for you.
2. Educate those around you about eating disorders and the complicated process of eating disorder recovery. For more on this, see my article about loved ones.
3. Put your recovery first. If others don’t understand and aren’t supportive, that only reflects negatively on them. While their support may have meant a great deal to you, you can still move forward without it.
4. If those around you lack compassion, aren’t willing to make the effort to learn about eating disorders or come alongside you, consider that these may not be the people you need to be close to right now. I’m all for healing in relationships, conflict resolution and all of those good things. However, you are only responsible for you. They make their own choices about how they’re going to respond to your need of support. Therefore, sometimes it’s better to distance yourself in relationships like this. Whether that’s temporary or permanent is a decision you can make over time. For now, do what you need to do in order to get healthy.
5. Lean on the One whose support is available to you anytime, anywhere, for anything. God has promised He will never leave us. He can heal your heart, listen to your concerns, strengthen you in your recovery, help you grow and lead you into a healthier life on all levels.
Regardless of the influence of those around you, your recovery is important. Make the most of the support you do have and move forward. Don’t let anyone stand in the way of becoming a healthier person both inside and out.
By Laurie Glass