Having an anorexic in the family takes a huge toll on all of the family members involved in many different ways. It is not only the person actually suffering from anorexia that has the problem and some people never think of the others involved but only of the person actual suffering from the disease.
Anorexia not only affects the way they feel about food and its not just simply the refusal to eat, the anorexic will have deep seated feelings and thoughts about themselves, mostly negative thoughts and this affects the way they think of other family members too.
Very often the disease will have a devastating affect on the family’s relationship to the point of almost total breakdown within the family unit, gone are the days when the family sat around talking and laughing discussing what happened at school or work almost total communication may have been lost.
Feelings such as resentment worry of course, anger from both the sufferer and family members may exist, and sadness and shame will all play a major part in the feelings. Along with these feelings the ever increasing feeling of desperation and disbelief at what is happening will show. It is important for everyone to remember that the family is not the cause behind the illness, neither is it the fault of the person afflicted with anorexia for the illness is something which the sufferer really has no control over.
There is no simple explanation for those affected by anorexia just as there is no simple cure for it. Very often members of the family will ask themselves, “What could I have done to prevent this happening”, “what went wrong, could I have stopped it happening”.
The answer is simply no, and there sooner this realization occurs then a start can be made with the family as a whole towards recovery not only for the anorexic but also for the family.
The best course of action after having seen the family doctor is perhaps a series of therapy with a family therapist. While this doesn’t offer any magical cure for the actual disease it does help the sufferer to get there thoughts and feelings out and also for the family as a whole who are also able to get there feelings out in the open.
They also receive the assurance that this wasn’t the fault of anything that they did or could have done. It is extremely important that the family work together and be honest and open with there feelings for this will bring them closer to helping the anorexic gain control back of not only there own life but that of the family as well.
Article reviewed by Dr. Greg. Last updated on October 7, 2009
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