This post is one that I really had to work through from a caregiver perspective. I’ve always thought I’ve chosen my words carefully generally as I never want to offend anyone. However, I did not realize how easily ED can be offended. I realized very quickly that I would often say things that were meant to encourage or cajole my daughter into a behaviour one way or the other, but it often got lost in translation.
For example, one day we were driving in the car and I realized how absolutely gaunt and emaciated she looked. She was grey and looked very sick, her glow was gone. In an effort to make her realize that I was worried and that she was losing herself, I said, “you look really sick and unwell”. Little did I know at the time that I had just encouraged and given ED praise – this is exactly what she was trying to accomplish. Looking back, I understand now but at the time I thought I had done my job to try and encourage her to wellness. Later we spoke of it, and she explained that that was the worst thing I could say, unless of course I told her that she was looking well again and that was taken to mean the opposite.
The language that I had to learn how to use included: giving compliments that didn’t relate to her physical appearance, compliment on actions and effort and sometimes it meant just keeping my mouth shut if I couldn’t think of anything positive to say.