Click a colour on the wheel to understand better how a eating disorder can take control of your life.
We live in a social world and interacting with others is an inevitable part of life. It is also an important part of life with many benefits to your health and wellbeing. Socialising can help to reduce stress, improve mood and boost self esteem. This is because being around people who have similar interests can help you enjoy life more. Without socialising, we can feel isolated and alone. Having friends and feeling supported, laughing and creating new memories can help us cope with the ups and downs of life.
Eating disorders can affect socialising in many ways. They can make you feel unmotivated, depressed and tired and you may not feel like going out with your friends. A lot of socialising includes food and drink, and you may not feel comfortable in surroundings that you used to enjoy. You may panic that you are being taken out of your comfort zone.
Many patients with eating disorders continue to work and function at high levels. However, there are some who struggle due to physical and psychological difficulties. It is always advisable for the patient to inform their employer, as special measures may need to be taken to allow the employee to continue to work at a high standard.
There may be some cases, especially in employment which requires a high level of responsibility, where Human Resources and/or Occupational Health should be involved. This should be discussed with the patient and the employer.
Eating disorders can affect your work in many ways. You may have to take a lot of time off work due the physical effects of your eating disorder. You may lack energy and concentration and therefore find it difficult to do your job to the standard that you reached previously. Your employers may become concerned that your disorder is impacting on your work, or that you may be putting yourself, or others, at risk, depending on the nature of your job.
A hobby is an activity, interest or pastime that is usually undertaken for pleasure or relaxation. Hobbies can lead to developing new skills and they can provide emotional and psychological satisfaction. Doing something for ourselves helps us to feel worthwhile, and on a practical level hobbies provide a shared interest and something to talk about with others. When recovering from an eating disorder it is useful to have hobbies to distract you from the constant thoughts about food and weight.
You may feel that your eating disorder takes priority over previous hobbies which you used to enjoy. You may feel that you do not have the time, energy or focus to engage in these activities.
Eating disorders can have a huge impact on relationships with family members, who might want to help, but not know how. If your family are struggling to understand your difficulties, it might be worth mentioning the carers workshops to them, as they could be of help to everyone in the family.
When someone has an eating disorder, it can be easy to fall into the role of a patient or â€˜the one with an eating disorderâ€™ in the family, and this can sometimes take over all aspects of family life and relationships. It can be helpful to try and keep in mind that you have other, more important roles in your family, whether thatâ€™s as a daughter, son, mother, father or sibling â€“ try and remember this when youâ€™re spending time with your family members.
Keeping relationships going with family members can be really helpful in overcoming an eating disorder. This could involve trying to talk to them more, or spending time together and trying out doing things which you might all enjoy. Eating out can be particularly hard for some people, but there's plenty of other stuff you could be doing, which might allow you to build up relationships and interests outside of food, shape and weight. Why not check out the days out page for some ideas of things you could try as a family.
Your relationships with friends and family may change. You may find the eating disorder becomes the main focus and you may find yourself getting into battles especially around meal times. Your friends and family will want the best for you but you may perceive their help in the wrong way or you may feel they do not understand what you are going through. This can all lead to tension in the relationships.
Going to University can be a very high-risk time for people with Eating Disorders. Many are moving out of the family home for the first time, and taking much more responsibility in many areas, including food. This can reduce the support they receive from friends & family, and increase the opportunities to engage in disordered eating. Also, this occurs at a potentially stressful time, academically, socially and personally.
For these reasons, it is vitally important that you plan how you will cope when starting University. Whether or not you need to transfer to another Eating Disorder service, Universities themselves offer psychological support for students, and this can be really helpful. Also consider how moving home and starting a course will affect your eating, and discuss the issues with your family, Eating Disorder Practitioner or GP. Make sure you register with your new GP early, and inform our service so that any information to help your care can be sent on. Perhaps most of all, remember that going to University is not only a potential risk in terms of your eating, but it is a huge opportunity to gain new friends, interests and self-confidence, and these are all things which can really aid your recovery.
A lot of people struggle with the transition from home to university and having an eating disorder can make this move even harder. You may feel quite isolated in a new place, in a new city, and with new people, and during times of stress the eating disorder could become worse.
Keeping relationships going can be hard for everyone at times, but eating disorders can make them much more complicated! Trust can be affected, both ways, especially if friends and partners are pushing you to make changes, or if you find yourself being dishonest about what you've eaten. Itâ€™s usually best to try and be honest with those close to you about whatâ€™s going on. Having loved ones involved in your recovery plans can be very helpful and itâ€™s worth trying to talk them about this.
Finding new relationships can be daunting too, perhaps because of how you feel about yourself or your body, or just not knowing where to start. Developing hobbies and interests outside of food, shape and weight can be helpful to relationships in lots of ways. Having other interests to focus on might help improve how you feel about yourself, as well as giving you new things to talk about and the chance to meet new people.
Your relationships with your partner may change. You may find the eating disorder becomes the main focus and you may find yourself getting into battles especially around meal times. The relationship may lose its intimacy for many reasons. Your partner may become frustrated with the situation. Your partner will want the best for you but you may perceive their help in the wrong way or you may feel they do not understand what you are going through. This can all lead to tension in the relationship which can affect the whole family.