National Eating Disorders Association

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I feel so angry and hopeless

I feel bad for saying this, but as someone whose girlfriend has an ED I'm angry. I'm almost 19, she's 22 and we have been dating for about 9 months and met 1 year ago. At first I was very patience and calm about it, but a few months ago at the start of the summer things changed. The situation has reached a point where I'm starting to feel so hopeless and angry. We are long distance and see each other very rarely (have only met twice in real life), so I can't really be there physically to do anything to help her. I've noticed that she's most likely getting worse. At first i thought she was getting better since she threw up less often, but I've realized that her ED may just have changed its form. She barely eats and still thinks she's eating too much, today she told me she had fruit for dinner. Then she exercises for at least X hours during the day (despite barely eating). She talks all the time about how she "needs" to lose weight and is too fat. As if this wasn't enough, she has a family that definitely makes everything 100% worse by calling her fat and telling her she needs to lose weight. Her mom has an ED as well I'm pretty sure, and my girlfriend (who wasn't and isn't even fat) was put on diets when she was as young as 6 years old. This is what makes me so angry, it feels like no help in the world will help her as long as she lives with them. But she can't move out, partly because she's not ready to live alone (bc of her eating disorder) and because she can't afford it yet. I'm witnessing how she is slowly getting worse. She's dizzy a lot (almost every time we talk on Skype) and sadly she faints several times a week. I keep pushing her to get more help, which she several times has stated that she knows she needs. Sometimes she has told me that she was gonna be put in the "hospital" (idk what it's called, english isn't my first language) or PROMISED me to get more help, but then the next day she acts like our conversation never happened. One day she says that she knows she needs more help and is willing to work more, then the next day she to says she's fine. I have gone from being patient and hopeful, to angry and hopeless. It feels like there's nothing at all that I can do anymore, like it is out of my control. I'm so worried about her, I want her to get better. It's affecting our relationship as well, I have to admit. She needs MORE help but won't get it. And then there's her parents that are destroying her. I feel like nothing I do will ever be enough and things never will get better. I don't know what I should do.


Hi! Thank you for posting. We slightly edited your post as some details and numbers might be triggering for other members of the forum. Please take a look at our community guidelines here: You mentioned some concerning symptoms that your girlfriend has been experiencing. So we are providing you with this list to look out for. The following are just some of the signs of a serious problem that demands immediate medical attention:• accidentally or deliberately caused themselves a physical injury• become suicidal• confused thinking and is not making any sense• delusions (false beliefs) or hallucinations (experiencing things that aren’t there)• disoriented; doesn’t know what day it is, where they are or who they are• vomiting several times a day or has uncontrollable vomiting or diarrhea• experiencing dizziness or fainting spells• too weak to walk or collapses• painful muscle spasms• complaining of chest pain or having trouble breathing• blood in their bowel movements, urine or vomit• a body mass index (BMI) of less than 16• an irregular heartbeat, and fast heartbeat, or very low heart beat (less than 50 beats per minute)• cold or clammy skin indicating a low body temperature or has a body temperature of less than 35 degrees Celsius/95 degrees FahrenheitOr any other serious medical concernsIf she happens to experience any of the above, we highly recommend that she seek medical attention as soon as possible. Another option is 911. Seek medical help soon on an outpatient basis if you:• have significant heartburn and/or a burning sensation after eating• have other gastrointestinal concerns• have high blood pressure• struggle with significant joint or muscle pain• have difficulty sleeping (falling and/or remaining asleep)• struggle with fatigue, sudden weight gain, and/or hair loss• have frequent urination or unquenchable thirst• have gained and lost significant weight repeatedly• have gained significant weight in a short period of time• struggle with chronic diarrhea or constipationIf you’re looking for resources, please feel free to contact the Helpline at (800) 931-2237. The Helpline is open Mondays-Thursdays 9AM-9PM EST and Fridays 9AM-5PM EST. During these hours you can chat with us also by clicking the chat now option at the top right hand corner! Please continue posting! 

Angry and Hopeless.

Yes, those are easy feelings to have alright. We watch the person slowly getting worse, and although we care about them with all of our hearts, it's seems like there's nothing we can do that will help. These feelings of helplessness can really get to us, and cause us to have all sorts of conflicting emotions.

One thing to keep in mind though - She DOES have someone to talk to, who sometimes she can be honest with, and that's you. Trust me when I say that things would be much worse for her if she had no one to talk to. If it were just her and her ED, you know ? So while it may seem like you are doing nothing, you may be doing a lot more than you know.

But you are right; seeing people we care about slide deeper and deeper into their ED can really be discouraging, and that does sound like what's happening to her. If she's fainting a lot, that's not a good sign, and she's probably being truthful when she mentions that she might have to be put in the hospital.

"One day she says that she knows she needs more help and is willing to work more, then the next day she says she is fine."

The "Everything is fine" statement is VERY common with people who have EDs. They pretty much know that they are in trouble, but sometimes they'd rather not think about it. That's often what "Everything's fine" means - "I don't want to think about it now."

One thing that's positive in all this is the fact that she seems to know that she's in trouble, even if she can't stop restricting. That can be one of the things that tells them that they are in trouble - When they realize that they can't stop. Even if they want to, you know ?

Here's one thing to keep in mind. Getting help is going to mean taking some risks. That's one thing that you can let her know that you do understand. Maybe she is not willing to take those risks now, but at some point she probably understands that she will have to. But yes, there's a lot of uncertainty and willingness to take risks that will be involved, and that's something that might frighten anyone.

So when you talk to her, see what you can do to put yourself in her shoes. Let her know that you understand some of the fears she might have. Fears that are often not that unreasonable. Let her know that you understand that she'll need to take some risks, and how that idea might be frightening for her.

Otherwise yes, we have to see what we can do to not be so frustrated and not feel so helpless. If we realize that they see us as an important support person, we actually are accomplishing something important I think.

Keep writing ?

I appreciate your response!

I appreciate your response!

English isn't my first language so I'm not sure if I understand you correctly, but this: "Maybe she is not willing to take those risks now, but at some point she probably understands that she will have to". Does this mean in other words that she will have to realize by herself that she needs more help, and that one day she will? That's my interpretation but I may be wrong.

The last few days have been terrible (I've been worrying a lot and she has shown a lot of symtoms, I guess) and I really tried to put myself in her shoes, try to be calm and understanding. But I feel like my hope and patience have been replaced by a feeling of hopelessness and a lot of fear. I'm too worried and I'm afraid she needs help NOW. Not a single day passes without her feeling very dizzy a lot and passing out.
I realize that this might be the wrong way to go, but I've told her how worried I am, that I don't want to lose her, that she needs more help and that she can do it. But nothing works, either she ignores my messages about the subject, tells me she's fine or give me promises that she doesn't keep.
I don't know how to do this the right way.

Sorry, I don't even know what I'm trying to say or what I should say. I'm just so frustrated, desperate and frightened. I'm so scared for her life, and scared that I won't be able to give her the support she needs. And there's not even someone I can talk to. I don't know what to do anymore.

Angry and Hopeless.

""Maybe she is not willing to take those risks now, but at some point she probably understands that she will have to". Does this mean in other words that she will have to realize by herself that she needs more help, and that one day she will? "

Yes, I think it means that. If she is passing out and feeling dizzy, a part of herself is certain to understand that she can't just keep restricting.
Many people with EDs understand that they are in trouble. But they are fearful about getting help, because they know that they will have to eat and gain weight. At the same time, gaining weight will NOT feel like a safe thing to do. It means giving up control, for one thing. And who likes to feel like they are not in control ?

So she will have to take some chance, and have to take some risks. I think she probably understands this, but is still too frightened to take the chances with eating that she will have to take.

One thing I would not do is to keep telling her that you are worried. While anyone would feel worried, you don't want her to feel responsible for you being upset. People with EDs don't want to be a burden on anyone, so keep that in mind if you can.

If it were me, I'd let her know that you understand how frightened she must be of eating. And how it must not feel like the right thing to do. Rather than telling her that you hope she will eat.

So that's where I would start if you are talking with her. Letting her know that you understand that she is fearful. If you can get her to talk about her fears, then that would be the best place to start I think. It could help her believe that you understand what she is going through, and that might help her feel safer about talking with you.

Keep writing.


I have been trying to follow your advice for some days now and I will continue to do it. You're right, and I absolutely do not want to make her feel like a burden.
Thank you! :)