Having experienced multiple family members go through an eating disorder from a young age, I understand how hard it can be. It was very difficult for me due to all the pain and struggle my siblings were going through. Although it was a very hard time in my life, I realized all that mattered was supporting my siblings and making sure that they understand that they are loved and people are there for them. ❤️🩹
If I could go back in time, there would be a few things that I would do differently to help myself cope with the situation. I wish I spoke with my close friends about what I was going through. I also wish I kept playing baseball. At the time, I quit playing baseball so I could spend more time with my family. I wish I never did this because having a regular routine helps your mind and gives you time to focus on something else besides the eating disorders.
In middle school, I was still very young and immature. It was difficult for me to comprehend the magnitude of the situation. Although I didn’t realize how serious their illnesses were, I could see the pain and struggle that they were going through. At first, I thought it was my fault and that if I was a “better brother” none of this would have happened. This left me in a very dark place because of the blame that I put on myself for their illness. 🙍 Fortunately, after many reassurances from family members, doctors and therapists I realized that I had nothing to do with it. Me and my whole family came together to support each other through this tough time that we were all going through. This helped my mind and allowed me to give my full support to my sisters instead of dealing with my own personal issues.
How to Support
Initially, I wanted to heal and care for them by myself. I did research on the subject in an attempt to assist them. However, I soon realized that the only thing I could do was be there for them for moral support. 🎗 Obviously they were going through a tough time, but they had a medical team with them 24/7 to guide them through and lead them to better health.
I hated going to the hospital everyday just to see my loved one going through so much pain and struggle. Nevertheless, I still made an effort to see them and attempt to put a smile on their face. I recognized how much my visits meant to them and how it helped them get back on the right track to recovery. By showing my never ending love and how much I care about them, I truly feel like I made a difference in their recovery. 🎊
The last stage of their recovery was confusing because I did not know how to interact with them after they got out of the hospital. I did not want to trigger anything but also wanted to show my support. I made an effort to spend time with them and address topics that were not related to eating disorders. I feel like they appreciated this because time with me was a period where they could relax, enjoy themselves and get their mind off of eating disorders. Along with this, I made it clear how I was there for them and that they could talk to me about anything. 🤝
Currently, my two family members who went through eating disorders are both doing amazing. They have both fully recovered and are excelling in their school and job. Although their ED experience was one that vastly impacted them, they have moved on and both feel like they have gained valuable life experience from it.
As for me, the main thing that I learned from this experience was the importance of family and being there for them. Despite the fact that I couldn’t physically heal them, by giving my utmost support and exhibiting how much I care for them, I truly feel like I assisted in their recovery and life as a whole.
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George Andrews is an intern at Beanbag Health. He is an incoming junior at the University of Connecticut. He is majoring in Finance and has a passion for all business related work. He says, "Interning at Beanbag Health has been a life changing experience and one that has taught me so much. It has truly opened my eyes to the world of eating disorders and how they truly affect people lives."