As parents and caregivers of someone with an eating disorder, so often we spend the vast majority of our time going to appointments, doctors and therapists. I had no idea how much I hated going to the GP appointments once she started to live in wellness. The previous months at the doctor’s office were spent biting my nails wondering if she’d lost weight, how her vitals were etc. Now, just walking into the office almost brings me to my knees in anxiety. I guess you can say it is my own version of relapse or PTSD, or a variety of other anxiety disorders.
When we are now going to the hospital where she spent 2 weeks as an inpatient, my blood pressure starts to rise and I can feel my heartbeat in my ears. I know we are not there for the eating disorder but for other diagnostic tests, but wow, the physiological response was something else. I imagine many parents feel this way as I know I cannot be the only one. Someone told me that this is a PTSD response and it all of a sudden hit me, that yes, I was having all the symptoms of that. At first it felt silly, I had never been in war battle but I had been in a battle for 12 months for the life of my child. And all of a sudden, it just made sense. Parents can relapse too.
This wasn’t then only time I noticed that I was “relapsing”. Every time I would see a plate not fully eaten, or she’d go to the bathroom right after a meal, I started to go right back to the place of the eating disorder again. Is she relapsing? What is going on? Why is her anxiety so high? Then I noticed that my anxiety was the one going up, not hers. I was placing my anxiety back onto her, which wasn’t fair. We have open communication and dialogue, so surely she would tell me if there was a problem. Well yes, but definitely I need to verify. I also need to trust her journey and her wellness. She has been gracious enough to just say “mom, yes I’m good but I know you’re anxious”. No, I’m not in a relapse, I just wasn’t very hungry today. Ahhhh, yes. And we are right back to the place of grace and I know that parents aren’t perfect either and that we can relapse. But the best thing about living in the grace space is that we can move on.