Watching mental health conditions deteriorate a loved one’s mind, body, and spirit can be quite difficult. When it comes to eating disorders, these conditions can lead to malnourishment, organ failure, and other lifelong consequences. In reality, the individual living with an eating disorder may deny these negative effects as a way to combat change. But, as a person who loves someone with an eating disorder, you know that help is vital for the survival and health of your struggling loved one. However, you may not know how to approach the topic of help. Or, how to help someone with an eating disorder at all. In this blog, we offer tools for how to talk to someone with an eating disorder so they may be better prepared to get the help they need.
First thing’s first, you want to choose a good time and place to speak with your loved one about their eating disorder behaviors. This way, they don’t feel overwhelmed or trapped and understand that you’re approaching them with love instead of hurtful accusations. Choose a time and place in which you can both be alone to speak in private. This can help to make the atmosphere calming and reassuring before you even begin to speak.
Once you’ve determined the time and place for your conversation, you need to consider what you’ll actually say. Basically, you want to express your concerns for your loved one’s self-harming behaviors. However, during this expression of concern, it’s important to express compassion and understanding. This way, they can better understand that you truly are worried about their health and happiness and may be more receptible of getting help.
Commonly, when individuals are approached about their self-harming behaviors, they react in denial. Additionally, they may even respond in anger to avoid having to continue with the conversation. It’s best to be prepared for this response. If it does happen, prepare to remain calm and relaxed so you can continue to focus on the reason you’re having the conversation; to get them the help they need.
Along with showcasing your concerns, you should question your loved one’s desire to change. Obviously, recovery isn’t going to be possible unless your loved one is committed to living a different lifestyle. So, they’ll have to be 100% committed to the change that’s necessary to lead a healthy new life. Rather than wanting to change to please others, it’s vital that your loved one wants to enter into a new life for themselves.
Finally, make sure your loved one knows that you are there for them throughout the entirety of their healing process. Recovery doesn’t happen overnight. And, your loved one is going to need as much support as she can get. So, offer that support and let her know that you are there for her whenever she needs!
After you’ve talked to your loved one about getting help and she’s agreed that she wants and needs to change her lifestyle, you can start looking for support. If you’re looking for an outpatient approach to eating disorder support, we can help!
Willow Place for Women is an eating disorder, addiction, and trauma treatment program for women located in Asheville, North Carolina. We offer a number of therapeutic techniques along with medicinal support for women of all ages and experiences. To speak with us confidentially about getting help for a loved one, contact us today.