Coping With Bulimia

With bulimia, coping comes in two forms. The first is how the victim deals with their illness, the second comes in when their family has to cope with the condition in someone they care deeply about.

The bulimic has two significant coping mechanisms available, one healthy, the other deadly. The healthy approach is to accept the condition as a treatable illness and take the medical advice offered. The deadly choice is to deny the problem exists at all. We’ll focus on the positive path:

  1. Stick with your plan. It takes some time to develop new habits, including healthy eating behaviors. Buy into the feeling of taking positive action to deal with a problem instead of pitying yourself for being forced to do something you don’t want to.
  2. Know your goals, both what a healthy weight is for you and what you need to do, in a stepwise fashion, to reach those goals. Take pleasure in your successes and don’t let your missteps overwhelm you.
  3. Find a positive, encouraging mentor, either online or at a local group. This should be a trusted confidant who really understands what you are going through and who has been there.
  4. Pre-plan for setbacks. How will you handle them? Having useful techniques prepared will keep a minor crisis from developing into a full-blown disaster.

For family members, coping revolves around understanding the disease (education) and accepting it as just that — a medical condition that can be treated. Beyond this, here are some other useful coping strategies:

  • Don’t bother trying to figure out where you went wrong. Don’t waste time in regret or blaming. The problem exists – focus on that instead.
  • Your loved one may be embarrassed or ashamed. Let them know you don’t think of them as a bulimic, but rather as someone you love who has bulimia. Separate the medical condition from the victim.
  • Do what you can to help with their eating plan. This gives you an active supporting role in a critical area. Regular mealtimes are usually the rule, and with modern demands on our time, it can be very difficult to keep this up. The family, as well as the bulimic, will often have to learn new habits.
  • Listen to your loved one and don’t be afraid to tell your side of things. Be compassionate, but don’t suppress your feelings either. Good coping skills are based on honesty from both sides.
  • Take mental health breaks yourself. Caregivers need recovery time, too.
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