National Eating Disorders Association

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JayWeb26
I don't know what to do. I want to help.

My girlfriend of 2 years has anorexia and i've been trying to help but i now realize i have no idea how to help her and things are getting worse and i think im making them worse. Im very concerned about her and i want to help. i'm not very good with these kinds of things (i'm not even very good at talking about emotions in general) so i came here because nothing i do seems to be working. it has gotten to the point that i'm very concerned for her health and wellbeing. Every time i vocalize these concerns and ask how i can help she minimalizes her disorder (she says she doesn't even have a disorder, it's not a big deal, etc.) and says i shouldn't waste my time worrying about her. Shes told me many times that she doesn't want to get better. She thinks the only way she can be happy is if she continues doing this to herself. I've tried to get her to see professionals and she said she'd try but that was so long ago and it's so much harder because she is a minor and still lives with her parents who don't seem to care, and not only that they won't let her see me. I also want to see her happy but if this is truly the only way she can be happy i dont think i can take it. any help or advice would be truly appreciated. i don't know what to do anymore, but there's not a chance i'll ever give up on her.

BobJ48
Hey Jay...

Welcome to the world of EDs.

Honestly though, all the frustrations you're dealing with are pretty much what everyone else deals with too. We want to do some thing to help fix things, but as you are seeing, nothing we come up with seems to work. Feeling helpless is not the greatest feeling it's true, but it's a feeling that we'll need to fight.

You're seeing the "mental illness" parts too. It's like rather than getting better, she wants to get sicker instead. Because somehow that's what makes her feel happy ? So what's with that ? And could she somehow stop this all if she wanted too? Maybe not. So it really is a worrisome matter.

And who knows what her parents think. They could be in denial. If you seem worried, while they don't seem to be, then that may be why they don't want you seeing her. It can often take a long time for parents to truly come to terms with things.

Maybe you've realized by now that trying to convince her to eat isn't helping things. Or to not eat, or whatever her diagnosis might be. So you may need to look to other areas in which you can help her. Here's an old saying about EDs : "It's not about food". Which…of course food seems to be what it's about, and is to some extent, but it can be about deeper things too.

But yeah, it's going to depend on what she feels safe about sharing with you. Stressful things in her life, problems at home or at school. As well as how she feels about herself, and the kinds of self-doubts that she's struggling with. People with EDs often have a long list of self-doubts. Not just the food and personal appearance stuff, but the stuff thats' underneath that.

" I've tried to get her to see professionals and she said she'd try but…"

So…she could see the counsellor at school. If she'd be willing to do that I mean. Which she might not be. But you never know. No guarantees as to helpful they'd be, but school counselors should be pretty familiar with EDs. And might have some suggestions for her.

Anyhow, I suspect you're getting an idea of how emotionally tangled this stuff can be, so I hope you'll keep writing ?

Bob J.

JayWeb26
I've actually had some vague

I've actually had some vague conversations with the school counselor about it but unluckily we live in a really hillbilly backwoods town and we go to a really small school. the school counselor told me she doesn't even "believe in eating disorders." that really pissed me off. When the counselor told me that i decided i should at least try to educate myself on these kinds of things since clearly nobody else around here cares enough to help without being a expert which her parents would never let her see. And as for her parents i guess i really cannot know their intentions but they've known not only about her disorder but also her self harm habits and have never even tried to talk about them with her. Also she's told me that there are things that shes just not ready to tell me and i respect that which is why i really wanted her to get to go to a therapist/counselor etc bc i know she has nobody else to talk to about whatever it may be. I told her that no matter what it is it will never change how i feel about her and she can tell me whenever she is ready.

BobJ48
Jay Web

"The school counselor told me she doesn't even "believe in eating disorders." that really pissed me off."

That sort of thinking angers me as well, particularly when it can lead to negative consequences that effect others. Like there's the facts from science, and then there's my own personal opinion. And hey, my opinion (which coincidentally just happened to serve some agenda of mine) is just as likely to be the truth as what the actual facts are. Unfortunately there's a lot of this style of thinking going on these days.

" And as for her parents i guess i really cannot know their intentions but they've known not only about her disorder but also her self harm habits and have never even tried to talk about them with her."

I work on a big forum for people with eating disorders, and you hear about this a lot. Parents who refuse to acknowledge that there's any sort of problem, even though it's clear that there is. I guess it's the denial thing ? Like if we don't pay attention, then somehow it will go away by itself. Whereas if we do talk about it, then it's officially a problem, and something we'll then need to deal with. So a lot of parents find themselves doing the avoidance thing it seems. Which is not so great, because in some instances the person with the ED will intentionally do things to make themselves worse, in an attempt to get someone's attention.

But she has your attention, and that's something. Not that it's you're responsibility to fix her, so be practical and watch out for getting drawn into the rescue-fantasy thing. But being there simply as someone to listen…that's not really fixing or rescuing, but it can make a real difference.

" Also she's told me that there are things that shes just not ready to tell me and i respect that which is why i really wanted her to get to go to a therapist/counselor etc "

People can have some pretty intense and terrible things that happened to them in their past. You can use your imagination I guess. Stuff that they simply aren't ready to tell anyone about for various reasons. Emotional or otherwise. People can find themselves developing EDs later, in reaction to some of those things.

" I told her that no matter what it is it will never change how i feel about her, and she can tell me whenever she is ready. "

Really, this is the best thing you could have said, so you're getting the hang of this. And if she does try and tell you, you don't really need to know all of the details. Just that some bad things happened, you know ? That you know how things like that can effect a person.

" i decided i should at least try to educate myself on these kinds of things…"

That's one of the best steps you can take. There are resources here on NEDA, and at other locations too. There are forums for people who have EDs themselves, and to be honest, it wouldn't bum them out if you went there and asked them what they think you should do. I've *never* seen anyone do that before, but people would probably appreciate that you took the risk to do that, and be willing to answer your questions.

I hope you will keep writing here too. Situations like these can be a real journey it's true.

Bob J

JayWeb26
I'm afraid she's getting

I'm afraid she's getting worse. She told me she is going to kill herself if she doesnt get to where she wants to be. I'm terrified, ive been trying to help but it just isnt working nothing i say is going to change her mind. No professional will take her insurance i would pay out of pocket for her but theyre so godawfully expensive, i can barely make it by right now. The thought of anything happening to her.. i dont even want to think about it i dont know what i would do. I cant believe im saying this but im thinking about telling her parents how bad its getting, im not sure how they would deal with it i feel like theyd somehow make it worse but im running out of options i dont know what to do, ive tried everything i can think of. She doesnt want my help she doesnt want help at all. im so scared for her.

iwanttolive
JayWeb26

HI. It sounds like the situation is critical and I would definitely tell her parents. With or without her consent. At this point intervention is absolutely necessary. What would you do if something happened and you didn't tell them.. You would never forgive yourself. I am sorry things have gotten to this point but I would not delay. At this point her safety is an issue and they can force her to go based on her being suicidal. I feel so much for you and am sorry you are suffering along with your girlfriend. People in this state are definitely not thinking clearly. They need intervention. As one who is recovered, I was there. Suicidal and self harming and not wanting to live. Now that I am recovered I am glad I didn't take my life and am doing well. I say this only to say that once things get better she too may be saying the same things and will one day thank you for saving her life. You need to tell her parents. That is my best advice. Let us know what happens. I know it is scary. Very scary. Do what your gut is telling you to do. Prayers for you and your girlfriend.

iwanttolive

BobJ48
Jay...

I'm with iwantolive on this. While it may seem like you are betraying her trust by telling her folks, sometimes we gotta look at the bigger picture and call in some outside help. Because really, the main way that people with EDs die is indeed from suicide, so while I know there must be a lot of drama going on, it really is worth taking this seriously.

You probably can count on her being angry, so be prepared for that, but there will also be a part of her that understands that you would not take a step like this lightly, or because you didn't respect or care for her. I've had to blow the whistle on a couple of people who were feeling suicidal, to the point where the cops had to show up and intervene , and when things finally settled down a little, they never hated me for it.

So yes, things can reach this sort of point sometimes, so I hope you'll take this next step, and that you'll keep in touch.

Bob J.

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Lifeline & NEDA Resources

Hi JayWeb26, we are very sorry to see the very sensitive situation you and your girlfriend are in. Providing support to a loved one with an eating disorder is very difficult. If you need resources for yourself as a partner or want to seek other resources for your girlfriend, please contact the NEDA Helpline at 1-800-931-2237 Monday - Thursday, 9 AM - 9 PM EST and Monday - Friday, 9 AM - 5 PM EST.If your girlfriend needs immediate help, please keep the National Suicide Prevention Hotline available: 1-800-273-8255. They are available 24 hours a day.Please continue to post, and remember you are not alone!

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