Support groups

In Chapter 7, I gave details of the services provided by the Eating Disorder Association. The EDA website contains a list of support groups run by volunteers. Many of these groups offer support to carers as well as to the sufferers. There may also be other carer support groups in your local area, which you might discover through your local volunteer bureau, your health centre, your local hospital, your library, your local newspaper, the Citizens Advice Bureau or by searching on the Internet.

We joined the parents/carers' group at Joe's in-patient unit. It met once a month and included some time when the nursing staff were available to answer any questions. Then we were left to chat among ourselves. Joe's unit included children with a wide range of behavioural problems so we spoke to parents who were dealing with different illnesses. However, this didn't really matter. At the end of the day we were all in the same boat trying to deal with a child who was having difficulty coping with normal life. We could share our experiences and talk about the stresses and strains of caring for such a child, the feelings of despair when being faced with another setback or yet another tantrum. We could also talk about our own coping strategies and share practical tips for dealing with what often seemed to be impossible situations. Most importantly we could talk about recovery and hope for the future. Several of the parents were looking forward to their child being discharged and we talked about strategies for the recovery phase and reintegration back into the home environment.

Support groups come in many forms. If you are lucky enough to have one in your local area, you have nothing to lose by attending a meeting. It might not suit you, but if it does then it can provide much needed comfort and support when you are feeling overwhelmed by the challenges ahead.

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