1. punk
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    punk Active Member

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    What do you tell someone with an eating disorder?

    Discussion in 'The Lounge' started by punk, Apr 10, 2010.

    Sorry if this brings negative energy to the table, but I'm in the process of trying to cope with a troubled friend. She just admitted to me that she'd been purging, her mother found out, and she'll be sent back to counseling (if they have the money to support it, I'm assuming) soon. I've openly talked to her about it before, and she says she constantly views herself as fat (not true) and in the past when someone would call her fat, she would simply receive it as the truth and continue to purge. She despises counseling and doesn't find it effective. :(

    It's completely illogical to me, so it's sort of hard to converse about when my internal response to everything is "Just stop doing it, then". The chance of me finding a specialized ED doctor here is probably slim, but every website I've consulted suggested therapy or counseling, two things she's had plenty of for a number of things. Any help with how to approach this would be great. :(
     
  2. InkDream
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    InkDream Senior Member

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    Counseling is really the only thing that can help her. She needs to see someone who deals with eating disorders and understands them. No amount of support from friends or family will help her if she doesn't have the tools to help herself (this is where counseling comes in).

    I know there's a sort of stigma around counseling but this is the sort of thing that needs to be dealt with. You can't slap a band aid on and hope it will get better. These kinds of disorders can own a person psychologically not to mention all the health problems it can lead to--ultimately death (not to be dramatic, but it happens). Eating disorders have to be taken seriously.

    The best thing you can do for your friend is try and convince her to get help.

    (I guess I should mention that I have a B.A. in Psychology, so I'm not just blowing hot air.)
    ;)
     
  3. LordKyleOfEarth
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    LordKyleOfEarth Contributing Member Contributor

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    Try offering her an alternative. If her concern is that she is 'fat' join a gym with her. She can burn off the calories rather than vomit them up, which will help to strengthen her cardiovascular system. Eventually you can try to encourage her to eat in hopes of building some muscle.

    This is not a replacement for professional counseling.
     
  4. Gigi_GNR
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    Gigi_GNR Guys, come on. WAFFLE-O. Contributor

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    You should try to get her to go to counseling. Eating disorders are serious, and it's not something to try to fix on your own.
     
  5. marina
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    marina Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think I can be of help here.

    You said she'll be sent back to counseling, so what you should be doing is just being a really, really loving friend by NOT TALKING to her about her eating disorder. Really. The more you talk about it, the more guilt/anxiety/anguish she will feel. She'll actually end up purging more than if you just did not talk about it. Talk about happy things, stuff she enjoys, etc.
     
  6. Gigi_GNR
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    Gigi_GNR Guys, come on. WAFFLE-O. Contributor

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    ^ That's true. Eating disorders are usually all-consuming, so if you're passe about it or always talk about it, it's only going to make it worse. Counseling and support is really all you can do.
     
  7. Carmina
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    Carmina Contributing Member Contributor

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    Bottom lines...you can't fix her. As with addiction, or an abusive relationship, or any other "self-inflicted" mental health issue...recovery is only possible if the person is open to it and is actively involved in the process. Therapy is needed, however, if she does not participate or believe in it...it can't help. All that you can do is be a friend. Tell her you will support her and that you love her. Tell her once that you hope she seeks the help she needs and that you will be there for her throughout the process. Tell her once then don't harp on it. The process is hers, not yours. Nagging can make it worse. Give her the space to find her own way. You can't save someone who doesn't want to be saved.
     
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  8. Sezensteal
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    Sezensteal Senior Member

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    I have to say, Carmina has pretty much said everything I wanted to. Also, I know that her advice actually works because someone I know had an eating disorder more than half their life and has recently started to recover of her own accord since everyone stopped bugging her.

    Just keep an eye on your friend, being there for her when she needs you. Other than that, there's not much you can do unless you want her to push you away.
     
  9. k.little90
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    k.little90 Active Member

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    So... as a person who has been through something like this:(... you won't ever be able to understand her. Just remember that not understanding her isn't a bad thing, just something you need to be aware of.

    When I was going through this, every thought I had revolved around my body. If someone looked at me wrong or spoke to me wrong, even if it was just to talk about the weather, I would relate it back to looks. It consumed me. Keep in mind that her body to her at this point in time is more important than her life, health, or even you. You'll probably get to the point where you just want to scream at her and tell her she's stupid and making herself sick and maybe even killing herself, but she won't understand you.

    I know your first reaction is to say "Just stop doing it then," but to her, you saying THAT isn't logical. She will just think that you don't care about her, and she will eventually start pushing you away. The best thing right now for you to do is just be there for her. Don't ignore the problem, but don't bring it up. If she wants to talk to you about it, she'll let you know. Until then just be a good friend.... Sounds like she needs one right now.

    With me, no matter how hard my family and friends tried to make me stop, the only thing that ended up working in the end was counseling. It took several years, lots of crying, lots of setbacks... so on so forth... but it really helped me. If it's a matter of not being able to afford it, a school counselor would work (THIS may be something you can help with. One of my friends was tired of not being able to get through to me and anonymously reported it to our high school psych. When they eventually called me in, they said that 'one of my teachers had reported me out of concern.' I didn't find out it was my friend until years later.)

    But Carmina is exactly right; in the end, your friend has to make the choice to change. Nothing you say will make sense to her, and the vicious cycle she has gotten herself into won't just go away.

    ***Virtual hugs****
     
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  10. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    As has already been said, the best thing you can do is just be there for her. Don't try to take the place of an eating disorder specialist. Eating disorders are not somethin you can fix for her, and they are deadly. Don't enable her -- if she talks about getting by without professional help, don't assure her that's fine. It's a tough place to be. You want to be a friend to her, but don't befriend the disease.

    Don't lecture her, though. It's not up to you to check on her progress, or to make sure she is staying with the program. Your only responsibility is to make sure that her parents know about her condition, if she is a minor. She will hate you for it, if she finds out. But that's the disease talking. The parents may be completely clueless, too, so it may be a good idea to also notify someone who is mandated to report it. Check with an area hospital to find out who would be a mandated reporter in your jurisdiction.

    Other than that, don't bring it up. If she brings it up, don't enable her, but you can still be a listener. That will be hard enough. She may very likely push you away. Fear of rejection is a major component of the disorder, and with that goes a compulsion to test your resolve as a friend.
     
  11. Ashleigh
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    Ashleigh Contributing Member Contributor

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    That's a terrible idea. Sorry, but one of the biggest obsessions anorexics and bullemics have is with excersize. If he gets it into her head that she should start excersizing aswell as purging, then that could be disastrous.

    I know she can't be fixed, and I see where you were going with this idea, but that would only make it worse, and it'd reinforce her belief that she needs to get rid of fat.


    OP, I think it just depends how bad her condition has gotten. I don't think these people can be helped unless they help themselves; I know that's a cliché, but some clichés come about because they're true, and that's one of them.

    I think as her friend, all you can do is be patient with her, watch her closely, and let the professionals try their best. Sick people never want to listen to advice...I learnt that the hard way with an old friend of mine, who self-harmed. Then again, I was angry because she did it too, and that's a bad idea.

    I hope she gets better one way or another.
     
  12. TheHedgehog
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    TheHedgehog Contributing Member Contributor

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    Carmina's right. Treating any eating disorder swings on mental recovery more than physical recovery. It's one thing to prevent a person with an eating disorder from hurting themselves, it's another to convince them they are beautiful no matter what. And you can't push her excessively. Just be patient and let her know how much she's worth, and do what you can to distract her from negative thoughts. I really hope she gets better.
     
  13. punk
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    punk Active Member

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    wow, thanks for all the response. See, I'm the new kid at this school, and apparently I'm one of the few people she's met that she feels she can trust and talk about problems with. She tends to focus on other people's problems; I learned in psychology when someone speaks of another's flaws, it is usually a reflection of how they view themselves, which I can see in this situation. I somewhat knew the answer that Carmina gave in the back of my head, but want to refuse it because it seems almost helpless in my situation.

    ^I hate how much this makes sense. I can tell she finds her actions logical, which is scary to me.

    Thank you guys for the support and knowledge... I'll continue to be a friend and be patient with her, and distract her from negative thoughts like HedgeHog mentioned. I have to go now... thanks again.

    :(
     

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