This will be a quick thought on my relationship with my parents when I was ill and perhaps might expand out to a thought about the “patient” – “carer” relationship in general. Two weeks ago now, Hannah and I spoke to the London Carers group (podcast of this presentation available here). Veronica Kamerling, the group facilitator, wanted us to ask something about the extent to which our families were involved when we were ill and how helpful this had been. It was a difficult question though, and was never asked at the meeting.
I think though that Veronica was also thinking about how good my parents were at letting go. Having always been caring, it can be hard to step back and see if the chick can fly. Honestly, my recovery needed me to move away from home. Living a little more independently helped in many ways. It may not have been the separation from my parents, it may have simply been the sense of autonomy I had away from home, but so often eating disorders are linked to fears about growing up and moving on. Perhaps the best way to combat these fears is to take a leap of faith, test out a bit more responsibility and see how it feels. In recovery I needed freedom from my family life to explore who I might become, the individual I was rather than the child my family saw me as. As Professor Janet Treasure teaches, carers are left with the very difficult task of finding a balance between providing protective support and encouraging independence.
If you are in recovery, we would love to hear one thing that you think your parents did great and one thing you find less easy to manage.
All the best,