National Eating Disorders Association

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Feeling desperate

My best friend "B" has anorexia and is in a severe stage. She is 5'4" and at a very low weight. She is getting a bit of help but has bounced from therapist to therapist and won't go into intensive treatment.
She is 52 yrs old and has a long history of eating disorders for most of her adult life. She was bulimic in her 20's the "stabilized" into controlled eating for several years. She maintained a higher weight level until about 2.5 yrs ago.
She suffered the loss of both parents in a fairly short period of time as well as the loss of her dog who she had for 16 yrs. She is married but her husband doesn't know what to do. She does have children.
Her friends are all very concerned and we have tried to create a support network for her. However some members of the group have gotten very pushy and aggressive with her using shame and guilt to try to change her. I know it is out of desperation but it just makes B feel worse.
I'm trying to encourage her to get proper treatment but I'm afraid she won't really get help until she collapses and is taken into hospital against her will.
I also don't understand how she can keep going at this weight? She has been very low-weight for the past 1.5 yrs. How can she keep going? What is this doing to her body.
I am afraid and feel very helpless and scared that I am going to watch her die.
Please help with some advice.


First off, sorry that your note sat here for so long. I try and check in regularly, but sometimes my head is off in other places I'm afraid.

So yes, what to do about your friend.

Like you said, it's easy to get frustrated, like some of your other friends seem to be And really : The person doesn't feel bad enough as it is, without "friends" trying to shame them as well ?

It does seem like she understands she has problems, so that part is good. But as you may understand by now, therapy isn't always as helpful as we might hope it to be. Which is often not anyone's fault, really. EDs are just really persistent, even when the person who has them would do most anything to be rid of them.

My approach is generally this : Try and put yourself in her shoes, and then try and craft your responses to her from that perspective. This may indeed involve *not* telling her what you think she should do. At her age, I suspect she already understands that part.

But more that she feels that at least someone get's it about her. Or at least they are trying to, you know ?

There's some comfort in knowing that I think. And is a big part of "support" I believe.