National Eating Disorders Association

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TheFlopster
Girlfriend Unmotivated After Months of Recovery

I wrote on here once a few months back. My girlfriend of almost a year and a half has been in and out of ED treatement over the past few months. She's a freshman in college like I am. She had to defer last semester, and this semester she did her classes in the online format. Needless to say, she missed out on a lot of stuff. More recently, she has been doing her recovery via zoom with her team of therapists, dieticians, etc. and she was given an ultimatum that if she did not meet her weekly meal goals in the next two weeks, they would look into intensive inpatient care, where she would be admitted into a facility and be monitored all day every day for 5-10 weeks. I say all of that just to paint a picture of the situation she's in. She missed so many things over the past 6 months that she had been looking forward to doing. She is feeling particularly unmotivated to meet her recovery goals because she feels like she is stuck an endless pattern of "spiral downhill, seek help, make improvements, repeat." She simply doesnt want to go to a facility with full-time care because she's missed so many things in her life already, she's just sick of it. And I totally get that. But I'm just so tired of watching the ED win her over repeatedly. Surely fighting like hell and missing out on a few things here and there is worth eradicating the ED from her life for good, right? I think she knows that, but she is just so tired of trying and falling short each time. I'm simply asking what I can do to help her when she feels stuck in a hole and too tired to dig herself out. She will beat this, I absolutely know it. And she knows she will, too, but the fight is brutal, it's long, and it is certainly not easy. I'm not even the one having to fight the ED but this has been one of the most challenging moments of my life. Any feedback is much appreciated. God bless.

BobJ48
Fighting, or not.

Hey there,

"Surely fighting like hell and missing out on a few things here and there is worth eradicating the ED from her life for good, right?"
Yes, you would think so, but at the same time people can get really discouraged. Particularly if they've been through a big string of ups and downs. So yeah, it can be easy to lose their motivation, particularly if they are dealing with depression as well.

Keep in mind the idea that EDs are often about accomplishment. Or they were when the person first got into them. Boy oh boy; seeing that weight go down, or at least striving to see it. So the theme of accomplishment can be a big one for them. Recovery can involve the theme of accomplishment too, and yet if they feel that they are constantly failing at it…you can see when they might lose their will to proceed.

So it's like you said, " she is just so tired of trying and falling short each time."

Also, people with EDs can get that "all or nothing" kind of mind set, from when they first got going with their ED. The numbers on the scale go down, and they can feel that they are on top of things. The numbers on the scale go up, and they are a total failure. When your brain gets used to thinking in those terms, it's hard for it to change it's outlook, and feel any sort of satisfaction with shades of gray, or with uncertain progress. So they have a lot of mental stuff to fight against when it comes to those ways of looking at things.

" I'm not even the one having to fight the ED but this has been one of the most challenging moments of my life."

I know what you mean, and to be honest it's not selfish or self-centered of you to be feeling this way. We care about the person, so we want to feel like we're actually adding something positive to the situation. And when it feels like we aren't…I'm sure I don't have to tell you how that can feel.
I've been in this gig for many years now, and talk with a lot of people who are in your GF's situation. Like yourself, I've had to struggle with how to go about being supportive in ways where the person actually feels supported.

And it's been my experience that what feels good to people is when they feel understood.

So I'm not all "Oh I know you can do this !! " or necessarily being all positive about things. I'm more like " I know this must be discouraging", or "I know this must suck." "I know you must worry about what the future may hold."

This may seem like taking a negative rather than a positive approach, but actually people seem to feel better when they feel that the other person gets it about them, and gets it about what they are going through.

Because EDs can be lonely things, and while we can't really fix other people, we can help them to feel understood.

And there can be comfort in that, if that makes any sense ?

In any case, just some thoughts.

Keep writing ?