I’m never going to get better. I’m the only person in the world who won’t recover.
I said this about my eating disorder, and, later, I said the very same thing about posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). In my experience, part of having a mental illness, by definition, means that, at times, we believe we can’t get better.
Needless to say, I lost hope a lot. My family and friends never did, and, in fact, they helped to ignite hope within me, even in the darkest times. These were the times when I was laying flat on the ground, literally, kicked facedown in despair.
Here are some ideas to consider when supporting your loved one in standing back up again:
1. Listen, listen, listen.
As in, put down the smartphone, stop multi-tasking, and truly listen. My older brother listened over the phone while I cried. I didn’t need for him to say much of anything, but rather, I just needed someone to hold space for me to grieve. Often, he simply said, “I know I don’t understand what you’re going through, but I’m here for you. I love you.”
2. Stop trying to understand so much. Instead, believe.
“From the outside looking in, you can’t understand it.
From the inside looking out, you can’t explain it.”
This quote from my first book, Life Without Ed, has resonated with families as a helpful description of just how confusing mental illness can be. My family has never fully understood my eating disorder, and I have written three books about it! The truth is that my family never needed to grasp every detail of the illness, but instead, they needed to believe my experience. It helped a lot when my mom said, “I believe that you feel like you will never get better. Still, I think you can. I love you.”
To read the full post on The Meadows Ranch Blog, click here.