National Eating Disorders Association

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Wife admitted to ED

I just today found out my wife has Bulimia. She had started strict dieting and extreme exercise about 8 years ago and she started to really lose weight. She would cook meals for the family but then count calories and weigh out every little portion of food. This went on for years and then she had a couple of fainting spells and after that she seemed to get a little better. Clueless me just chalked her fainting spells up to her not eating right and exhaustion. Then she started to slide back into her old ways and it suddenly clicked for me. I started thinking back and I couldn’t believe I never realized that I completely ignored the signs. Fast forward to today, I finally had to talk to her about it for my own sanity as I deal with depression and anxiety as well and it was literally eating away at me. When I told her of my concerns she came right out and admitted it to me. She said that she was really wanting to tell me or hoping that I would figure it out. She also says that she is done living that way and is going to be completely open about it to me but she really doesn’t want to seek professional help. Now I am terrified that she will really try to hide it from me and continue to binge and purge and stay in that vicious cycle. I know it was an amazing step for her to admit it to me without any anger or denial.

Dear Eli173, welcome to the

Dear Eli173, welcome to the forums! We would like to let you know that we edited portions of your post to remove mentions of disordered eating behaviors, which are not allowed on the forums. You can review our community guidelines here: also mentioned that your wife had fainting spells, whcih is a sign of a medical emergency. 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 Fahrenheit

We hope your wife receives the help that she needs. Please keep posting! 

Eli 173

Hey Eli,

First off, try not to beat up on yourself for missing the signs. EDs are secretive things, and hey - Doesn't everybody want to lose weight ? It's an admirable accomplishment, and most people would not find it suspicious, so I hope you can give yourself a break about that part.

I can see where you might be feeling some paranoia now though. Will she continue to be open with you, as she said she would be ? And what if she isn't ? What sorts of elements might that insert into your relationship ? A person can feel concerned alright.

Still, I think you have to pay attention to the fact that she's been frank with you. That took some bravery on her part; bravery that she may not have been able to allow herself in the past. So I think it's OK to see that as progress.

None the less, EDs are often symptoms of deeper personal concerns, so you are right in hoping she might be open to therapy. While she may not want to involve herself directly in ED treatment, resolving the sorts of non-food related issues that often underly an ED will still be important.

As far as the binge and purge cycle goes, it's true that she may still find herself doing that sometimes. When life becomes stressful, people can fall back into their old coping methods. But I can pretty much guarantee you that it's nothing that she'll find herself happy about should that happen, even if she should hide it from you.

Whatever the case, simply the fact that she's revealed these things to you counts as a positive development, so you are right about that. Recovery takes more than just admitting to one's problems, so there's likely still more to come as far as her struggles are concerned. Even so, it does sound like she's crossed an important line, by being OK with telling you.

Time will tell, I think, so as matters progress I hope you'll keep writing.

Bob J