1 - everyone is different
2 - a statement or question that is triggering to me might not be triggering to someone else
3 - I have only experienced one miscarriage - loosing a twin while simultaneously pregnant with the other baby
4 - I am not a licensed therapist or specialist in any of these fields and thus can only answer based on my personal experiences with each topic
So with these in mind, here are a few things I would suggest you NOT say to someone who is struggling with anorexia, infertility and/or pregnancy loss:
(And just b/c you are wondering - yes - many of these are statements people actually said to me)
- Just eat more - If only it were this easy. Newsflash - eating disorders are NOT about the food (maybe to some extent but there is usually, always, an underlying issue that needs to be addressed and the sufferer finds the only way to control the underlying issue is by controlling his/her food intake).
- You should probably be praying more often - Yes it is a good idea to pray. Prayer works wonders and even while I was suffering I knew this but honestly, I was not at a place where I wanted to pray or approach God at all for that matter. Making statements such as this will only push the sufferer farther away from finding God again. At least that was my experience. You MUST wait until THEY are ready.
- Wow. You need to go eat a pie. - Ironically, this statement was made to me at church. I recognize that the person was just uncomfortable and most likely, wanted to say something out of concern but did not know how so this was an easy out. But really? Please refrain from "funny" remarks like this one.
- How do you think God feels? Or. . . Do you not know your body is a temple? - Please refer to comments under the second bullet point.
- I know how you feel - Please, unless you have first hand experience with an eating disorder AND are willing to share said experience, refrain from making this remark. Being trapped by anorexia is awful and unless you have BEEN THERE, you really have no idea the emotional, mental, physical and spiritual battle one faces each and every day.
Infertility and/or pregnancy loss:
- It has only been x amount of months, it took us five years to get pregnant - Ok, while this comment is meant to be encouraging (translation = It's still early and we got there eventually!), telling me that it took 5 years to get pregnant is not really helping the situation when I am only so far into the process.
- You can always adopt - I love adoption and I am a firm believer that it is a GREAT option for SOME people. I worked in the field for 6.5 years for goodness sake. That being said, adoption is not right for everyone and therefore it is not always an "easy solution" for those struggling to conceive. Adoption is a life long decision and couples who look to adoption (specifically due to infertility) have a lot of grief and loss they must work through prior to adopting. Adopting a child as a means of "replacing the biological child that never was" is never a good idea.
- At least you have the other baby and/or your other child - This is a true statement but it still hurts. Yes, I lost a baby at 8 weeks all the while I was still pregnant - a blessing indeed. But you know what? It still hurt. Bad. I still cried for that little heartbeat that I was no longer able to see on the ultrasound. I still had several weeks to wrap my mind around having twins, mothering twins, etc and then boom... that image was gone. So please refrain from trying to "encourage" someone in this way. A loss is a loss and it takes time to process and heal. This does not mean we are not thankful for the other baby inside or the child that already lives in our home.
- You didn't really want twins anyway - I was truly amazed at how many people said this to me. They would continue to explain why having twins would be SO hard and how life would be SO much more complicated, difficult, and overwhelming and why it was really a blessing in disguise that I will now only have one baby. Ok I agree - raising two babies at once would be extremely difficult but does that mean that I really didn't want baby #2 to survive? I think not. Far from the truth.
- At least you never knew your baby - This comment, in my opinion, just negates the loss a person feels when loosing an unborn child. Yes - I agree it would be much harder to loose a child that I have held in my arms or a child that has spent several years in my home. Agreed. BUT please don't tell me I shouldn't feel pain because my baby was "never real." While I never held my baby I saw that heartbeat for several weeks and, at that moment, I allowed myself to begin "knowing" that child.
These are just a few examples of statements I would encourage people not to say. I am sure there are many more and for those of you who have dealt with any of these issues can, most likely, add your own list to mine above.
While I sit here and caution you in what you do choose to say, I do encourage you to say something. Or just show that you care. Write an email. Send a text with a simple "I love you and I'm here for you." Make a phone call. Give a hug. Sit and listen. . . and I mean truly listen. Tell someone that while you have no clue what they are experiencing you indeed care deeply for them and their situation. Ask how best you can encourage and actually follow through with their response. Don't let the fear of what to say keep you silent. Just please take time to think about your words.
If you have ever experienced an eating disorder, infertility and/or a miscarriage, what would you encourage people not to say? What comments were the most helpful in your healing process? Please share your thoughts. We all have unique experiences and can continue to learn from one another.