National Eating Disorders Association

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I'm new here, my therapist recommended finding a support group for caretakers and thankfully the National Eating Disorder helpline referred me here as an option. And forewarning I'm just venting here right now.

My wife has an ED (Bulimia, I think?) and now that the ED is out in the open and she's being treated for it it's a blessing, because that's great she's at least seeing professionals about it. But I'm going to be really honest here. Watching her binge eat, then purge, then binge eat again, then purge, sometimes 2-3 times in a single evening.... It's hard to say but it kind of grosses me out. I go from starving to not hungry at all as soon as I see her start. It's in her whole attitude, it's impossible to describe.

And every time I use the toilet to see even just hints of evidence of the purging. This just like really sets off my thoughts of it especially when I clean the bathroom every weekend and because of the frequency of purging it always looks disgusting. I need to talk to her about this but I'm afraid of how to approach it in a way that won't trigger her.

I feel guilty with feeling frustrated and frankly a bit disgusted by it because it's a disorder and I don't like the thought of making myself the victim, I want to help. But there's ... nothing I can do for her it feels like. But lately I've begun to notice that I was coping in negative ways. I was spending more than I should on a hobby that I could focus my free time on, because by focusing on the hobby I wasn't fixating on the eating disorder. Which then creates more stress in the house and exacerbates everything. Additionally in order to avoid facing *my* spending habits I was ignoring hers, and in 2 weeks she went through almost $1,000 of food. Some of that was going out with friends which social interaction is good for her, but a lot of that was grocery shopping and buying a ton of easily bingeable food for home. We shouldn't be spending even half that for 2 adults and a toddler in the home. But her go to is to go grocery shopping. It's like everything she does circles back to food. everything.

I went to a therapy session with her (her therapist) and that helped in some ways but we didn't actually talk about the ED at all, and that's the main thing I had questions and concerns about. But it's not my therapy so I didn't want to intrude...

I talked to my therapist about it and a few things she's said are helping me come to terms:
1) It's a marathon, not a race.
2) The eating disorder is the tip of the iceberg, it's what you can see, but there's so many factors going into what's causing it.
3) Focus less on the eating disorder which you can't change, and focus more on the environmental triggers that lead her to the eating disorder behavior to see if affecting the environmental triggers helps.
4) ED's are commonly a way to get 'control' (this was just something that helped me understand)

This is one long rant that's been sitting with me for a while so I apologize.

Edited Post

We are glad that you are finding support here on the NEDA forums. A portion of your post was edited due to the mention of specific behaviors and wording that may be triggering to other forum members. Our community guidelines are always available to review here In the event you need further assistance please call the NEDA helpline at 1-800-931-2237 (M-Th 9-9 F 9-5 EST).Again, thank you for posting, and we hope you will continue to do so!


Hello and welcome to the forum. I am someone who used to suffer from bulimia and almost died from it. I also suffered from anorexia and overeating and binge eating. Today I am free from all of these. I am sorry you are having such a difficult time seeing your wife so ill. My parent's felt similar to you as they watched me self destruct. It is painful to watch and feel that there is nothing you can do. The disgust you feel, I felt for myself. I think your wife probably has similar feelings. It is an addiction. And without help it usually gets worse so I am glad she is getting help. I feel for you. I understand to a point what you are saying. Do you ever talk about your wife's disorder with her, when she is not in a bad place? Ask her what she needs from you, how you can help her? What about another therapy session together where you actually talk about this in the session. It makes things all the more difficult when you can't share together and be honest with each other. I am not married so I don't know how easy that would be. But you can't ignore your feelings. Have her clean the bathrooms. Maybe you can do something she does in the house and she can clean up after herself that way it won't be a constant reminder to you of what is happening. Does that sound feasible? Eating disorders are so complex and difficult to treat. But people do recover. I am in recovery after a very long time of suffering. I felt so bad about myself and what I was doing. I am sorry this has been so painful for the both of you. It is good that you are getting help yourself and that you are reaching out here on the forum. There is no need to apologize for your post. That is what we are here for. It is upsetting. It is frustrating and it is scary. It is good that you are getting your feelings out and working through them. I would ask your wife if she wants your help, and how you can help her. I would also try to have real life go on. Talk about everyday things that don't revolve around the eating disorder. See if you can do things together that don't involve food. And remember, bulimia is an illness. A mental illness that is difficult to overcome. But it can be done. I wish you the best and hope you let us know how things are going. Post anytime.