By Hrvoje Petrovic *
My brother is suffering from a long term eating disorder. Helping to care for him has affected my own health. For instance, witnessing my brother’s suffering led me to experience an episode of severe depression with appetite loss. However, now I am grateful for this, because I have greater empathy and understanding of the challenges he faces with his illness.
I am more aware of the hell and the kind of colossal struggles he has to contend with in his mind on a daily basis.
People who suffer from an eating disorder battle intense emotions and inner conflicts that negatively impact their recovery. With my brother, I recognize he has become caught in a vicious circle from which he struggles to get out. He is aware that he is sick and that his body is suffering but he cannot move on, there is no energy or motivation for taking steps forward.
When he drinks alcohol he says it stimulates his daydreaming; he has many personal traits typical for hyperactive dreamers. He is extremely intelligent and awakened as an individual, and is deeply philosophically oriented. It’s like he has a different soul, one that does not fit with this world, but I understand him absolutely.
I live in constant fear that my brother may die, because in his case, in addition to the eating disorder, there is alcohol-related comorbidity, and you can judge for yourself what a fatal combination this can turn out to be. It’s not just hard for me. Our whole family suffers heavily, and “friends” do not even realize what an eating disorder is. Many people are ignorant, many times they judge and criticize my mother, but this illness is not her fault.
The environment is immature in relation to those suffering from eating disorder, as if they were vaccinated against understanding them. “Ordinary” people don’t understand eating disorders, and some of them even criticise!
When my brother was a child he was diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), a diagnosis which I question but it is important to mention because a misdiagnosis may cause delays in getting the right diagnosis and the right treatment for the underlying problem such as an eating disorder.
My brother’s problems with eating started when he was about nine years old. I remember Mother taking him to a psychologist who even screamed at him saying “Why are you naughty?” Can you imagine that?
What does it mean to be fed and nourished? Most people will think that this means consuming a certain amount of food and water into the body. But it is not so easy for a person with an eating disorder. Healing requires a connection between body-mind-soul, with the three parts in balance, to be free to lead an ordinary life. I would like the concept of mind-body-soul to be included more in mainstream treatments for eating disorders.
I remember when I spoke with a friend who is a medical expert and she said that an eating disorder is a family problem and so it is. I feel proud of my brother and his efforts to find the strength to heal and live a full life despite his illness.
About Hrvoje Petrovic
Hrvoje Petrovic is an IT expert, psychologist in his soul, and a free thinker. He lives in Varaždin, Croatia, and has been a stronghold for his whole family throughout his younger brother’s illness. His brother, now age 30, has suffered from an eating disorder since age nine. Hrvoje bravely decided to break the silence and the stigma by sharing his story with people in Croatia and the world to help other families and inspire them to do the same. Through sharing his story he hopes to demonstrate his devotion and support to his not only brother in his battles, but also to everyone else affected by an eating disorder.
* Zlata Vukmirovich has kindly assisted with the language translations and in bringing this story to you. In Croatia, Zlata volunteers for Udruga Nada, dedicated to raising awareness of eating disorders and the need for more support services in her country and around the world. Email: email@example.com and website http://www.hope.hr/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=2&Itemid=2
This story was also edited by Dear Diary editor, June Alexander.
Imam brata koji pati od poremećaja u prehrani. Pomoć u vođenju brige o njemu imalo je utjecaja na moje zdravlje. Gledajući kako moj brat pati I sam sam stradao na način da sam prošao kroz fazu teške depresije uz gubitak apetita. No međutim, zahvalan sam na tome, jer imam više suosjećanja I razumijevanja za izazove s kojima se susreće u svojoj bolesti. Više sam svjestan pakla I kolosalnih svakodnevnih borbi u njegovom umu.
Ljudi koji pate od poremećaja u prehrani vode bitke intenzivnih emocija i unutarnjih sukoba, što negativno utječe na njihov oporavak. Kod njega sam prepoznao da je upao u začarani krug iz kojeg ne može izići. Svjestan je da je bolestan i da njegovo tijelo pati, ali ne može si pomoći, nema energije ni motivacije za korak naprijed.
Kada pije alkohol kaže da mu to stimulira njegovo sanjarenje. Ima mnoge osobine tipične za hiperaktivne sanjare. Iznimno je inteligentan i probuđen kao individua, duboko filozofski orijentirana. Kao da je drugačija duša, koja se nije mogla poredati sa ovim svijetom, no razumijem ga apsolutno.
Živim u konstantnom strahu da moj brat može umrijet, jer u njegovom slućaju, pored poremećaja u prehrani, postoji komorbiditet vezan uz alkohol. Prosudite sami kakva to može ispasti fatalna kombinacija. Nije samo meni teško. Cijela obitelj jako pati, a „prijatelji“, oni uopće ne shvaćaju što je to poremećaj u prehrani. Mnogi ljudi su neupućeni I vrlo često osuđuju i kritiziraju moju majku, ali ova bolest nije njezina greška. Okolina je nezrela u odnosu na oboljele od poremećaja u prehrani i kao da su cijepljeni protiv razumijevanja istih. “Obični” ljudi ne razumiju poremećaje u prehrani, a neki čak I kritiziraju!
Kada je moj brat bio dijete dijagnosticiran mu je ADHD. Dijagnoza u čije postojanje osobno ne vjerujem, ali je ipak bitno za napomenuti, jer nepravilna dijagnoza produžava postavljanje prave dijagnoze i pavilnog tretmana osnovnog problema kao što je poremećaj u prehrani.
Problemi moga brata sa poremećajem u prehrani počeli su kada je bio 9 godina star. Sjećam se kada ga je majka vodila psihologu koji se je čak izderao na njega “Zašto si tako zločest?” Da li si to možete zamisliti?
Što uopće znači biti hranjen i nahranjen? Većina ljudi će pomisliti da to znači unijeti određenu količinu hrane i vode u organizam. No nije tako jednostavno za osobu s poremećajem u prehrani. Oporavak zahtijeva vezu između tijela-uma-duše, gdje svo troje mora biti u ravnoteži da bi mogli voditi uobičajen život. Volio bih kada bi koncept tijelo-um-duša bio više uključen u mainstream tretmane za poremećaje u prehrani.
Sjećam se kada sam razgovarao sa prijateljicom, koja je medicinski stručnjak i koja je rekla da je poremećaj u prehrani problem cijele obitelji, i slažem se sa njom. Ponosan sam na svog brata i njegova nastojanja u traženju snage za oporavak i da živi život punim plućima unatoč njegovoj bolesti.