National Eating Disorders Association

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amandan524
How to talk to someone about the fact that they have an eating disorder.

My boyfriends sister is suffering from anorexia and maybe exercise bulemia. She isn't super close to me but my boyfriend and I have been dating for 4 years so I know her pretty well. She has been steadily losing weight for about 1.5 years now and her family isn't really doing anything. They're mostly ignoring the fact that she is wasting away. Its strange because multiple members of her family have spoken to be about her and what she's going through, but they are very reluctant to speak with her about. they say its a sensitive subject and she just rebuffs any attempt to talk about it.
She opened up to me a little last May and actually said the words "eating disorder" and also said she wanted to seek help for what she was struggling with. I listened to her and told her if she needed help I would help her. Her family accepted that she would "fix it herself" and sort of just left it at that. She has not gotten any better and went to the hospital the other day with severe stomach pains. She was told that her white blood cell count is very low and she should wear a mask over her face as to not contract any type of disease since her immune system is compromised. Even though this happened she still isn't correlating her health problems to her eating disorder. She said she "wished she had a reason" for the health concerns. I'm not sure how to go about it but I feel as if I don't speak to her she will be in very real danger of hurting her health irreparably or worse. She has friends and she's pretty close with her mother but doesn't seem to be listening to anyone close to her. If anyone has any suggestions or experiences with getting someone to go into treatment it would be so helpful.

dropthemetaphor
re: How to talk to someone about the fact that they have an e

Hi amandan524,

Welcome to the forums! So glad you are reaching out here. You've come to the right place for support! I wanted to start by just saying that unfortunately there's no way to "get someone to go into treatment." An ED is not a choice but a serious mental illness, so it's not as easy as drawing the connections that will make someone just snap out of it. This is a decision your boyfriend's sister needs to reach on her own terms. If she's not ready for recovery, recovery will never happen.

That said, though, it's awesome that you want to support her and point her in the right direction so she can start getting better. NEDA has a zillion great resources on exactly what you're asking about. Here are some links I think you'll find useful:

HOW TO TALK TO A LOVED ONE ABOUT EATING DISORDER CONCERNS: https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/learn/help/caregivers/talk

ENCOURAGING A LOVED ONE TO SEEK PROFESSIONAL HELP: https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/learn/help/caregivers/profession...

HOW TO SUPPORT A LOVED ONE WITH AN EATING DISORDER: https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/learn/help/caregivers/support

You might also try perusing some of the other threads here on this forum--you're definitely not alone in this struggle. Lots of caring friends are going through similar situations and many members of this community have shared really insightful advice on how to approach it.

Hope this helps. Please keep us posted!