CANDLE iN THE STORM: Getting through Eating Disorder as a Family

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Eating disorders affect the family just as much as they affect the individual. Whilst I was battling my eating disorder, my family’s level of stability dropped. My parents were too focused and stressed about my eating disorder, that my younger siblings and their needs were pushed to the back. My eating disorder occupied so much of their time and worry…that they just didn’t have time to focus on other things anymore.

Maybe you’re going to say that having an eating disorder was my entire fault. Accuse me of ‘willingly’ falling into an eating disorder. But eating disorders are in no way the sufferers’ fault, and honestly I think this is something both my family and many other people have trouble understanding. But that doesn’t erase all the pain that anorexia has brought on my family. If you still want to blame me then go ahead – I’ll accept it.

Having said that,…let’s say if I had a physical illness (e.g. Cancer); the financial and emotional burden caused to the family would almost be equivalent to that of an eating disorder. Are you going to blame me then?
No? I did not ask for an eating disorder, just like how nobody ‘asks’ for a physical illness.

Nobody is to be blamed for their mental illness. I’ve heard stories of people who have rejected/completely broken ties with their loved ones suffering from eating disorders simply because they just cannot deal with it anymore. Indeed, yes, my own loved ones nearly rejected me at one point.

I’ll never forget the moment when I saw my mum breaking down in front of me, begging me to eat. My mum is a strong woman and she does not simply cry in front of anybody! Neither will I forget the many times I’ve seen my dad helplessly staring into space, as if he was questioning whether there really was a God. Or even the time my younger brother sat by my bed in the hospital – pleading for me to get better so we could all go on a holiday and be a family again; like old times.

All those moments…their hurt, those words and the images will remain in my heart forever. Nothing compares to the pain of seeing your loved ones cry. Nothing.

As much as my eating disorder has caused so much distress to my family…I’ve got to admit, some good things have come out of it believe it or not.

If you know my mum, you’ll know she’s a strong woman – she’s capable and can get anything done when she puts her mind to it. She is basically a real life superwoman. But dealing with my eating disorder brought her to her knees, forcing her to surrender all to God and asking for His help. All the while she believed she could ‘fix me’, but dealing with this made her realise that only God can do that. Now, every day I see her faith grow more and more – and that is a beautiful thing.

My dad: He’s always had strong faith in the Lord. But just like my mum, he eventually hit a wall of hopelessness. Nothing was working, everything felt so hopeless; almost like the Lord just wasn’t listening.

But my family is resilient (praise the Lord!) – My parents have strong faith in God. They never really 100% gave up hope. They never stopped praying, and never stopped believing in the Lord. The Lord was their rock, just like how they’re my rocks. I believe it was through the grace of God, and my parents’ never failing faith, that held our family together during this time.

By Tiff
Currently studying in Australia

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