National Eating Disorders Association

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namuuu
I’m stuck - long post

Hello, I’m new to this forum but I’m hoping that I could get some advice. My sister has been suffering from bulimia for about a year now. I’ve known about it for almost every day and I feel horrible. I don’t know what to do to help my sister. I should have stopped her earlier but I always thought that she’d be strong enough to stop on her own. It’s been a year now and it’s just gotten worse. I’m so worried about her health and I wish that I knew what to do to help her stop. I’ve tried talking to her but she just waves it off and says that she’s fine. My mother and I are trying to get my sister to agree to go to the hospital and talk to a therapist but she flat out refuses saying that it’s all useless. She already has cuts inside her throat, all that purging and laxatives have messed up her insides so bad that sometimes she has trouble breathing. My sister knows what bulimia does to the body but she’s become so addicted to purging she doesn’t know anything else.

I know that my sister has always had a tough time with her body and after her major weight loss it just became worse. She believes that being skinny is the only way to be happy. She always tells people to love themselves but when I see her not loving herself it makes me want to cry. My sister and I have a lot of the same mental health problems and I went through a small period of purging as well, so I know how she feels to some degree but obviously I don’t know all because I have not been able to successfully talk to her about it.

I just want to be able to help her because I’m concerned about her body and her health. I feel bad sharing so many personal details about her but I really need some advice right now. I need to know how I should approach my sister about this, how I should talk to her, and how to get her to at least visit the hospital. Any advice would be greatly appreciated, thank you so much.

_admin_moderator
Dear namuuu, welcome to the

Dear namuuu, welcome to the forums! We would like to let you know that we slightly edited your post to remove eating disorder behaviors, which are not allowed on the forums. You can review our community guidelines here: https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/forums/community-guidelines.You also mentioned that your sister sometimes has difficulty breathing. 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 sister gets that help that she needs. 

namuuu
I’m so sorry about that! I

I’m so sorry about that! I didn’t mean to post something that wasn’t allowed. I’ll make sure to throughly check the community guidelines again. Thank you.

BobJ48
Namuuu

Situations like this are difficult alright. When the person feels that their behaviors are still benefiting them in various ways (even though they may know that the behaviors are toxic) it's pretty difficult to convince them that they need to take steps to change.

So how do people define "having a problem" ? The thought is that one needs to examine the effects that issue has on their life. Social relationships, work and study, emotional and intellectual enguagment and flexibility - Negative impacts on matters like that pretty much count as "a problem". Not even counting the physical parts. Perhaps your sister might agree ?

Still, people can become so emotionally dependent on behaviors that they aren't really interested in changing. of it they are beginning to have doubts, they can often feel that "I'm not sick enough yet" or "It's all that I've got". Thoughts which can keep people from fully confronting the issue and getting the help that they need.

In any case, you might want to ask her to reflect on the different ways that her ED is effecting her life. You're not going to be able to convince her yourself - These are conclusions she'll have to arrive at on her own.

Another angle you might try is addressing the depression she is probably feeling. She may not have mentioned depression specifically, but just to say, there aren't too many jolly bulimics. She may not want to get therapy for her bulimia, but getting help for her depression might be an idea that she's more open to ?

In any case, you're not alone in having these difficulties. They can cause us to feel helpless as well, so you'll need to be sure to take care of your own self too, as this situation continues to play itself out.

namuuu
BobJ48

Thank you so much for your reply. My sister does suffer from clinical depression, and she has an anxiety disorder. I do think that her anxiety disorder played a part in her developing an ED. My mom and I have tried multiple times to get her to agree to go see a therapist for her depression but she always refuses. The worst thing is is that she knows what her ED is doing to her health, she’s fully aware of it she just can’t stop. I just don’t know what to do at this point. Like you wrote, I won’t be able to convince her myself to have her stop but she’s become so emotionally dependent on her ED. She’s not trying to overcome it herself, and there’s nothing that I can do that’ll make her realize that she needs to stop. Honestly at this point I’d be more than willing to just force her to go to the hospital or therapy than have this continue for any longer.