National Eating Disorders Association

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Girlfriend with anorexia nervosa, trying to be as supportive as I possibly can..

So my girlfriend who is the love of my life was diagnosed some time ago with anorexia nervosa. Lately she's been trying to find help and reaching out to counselors and therapists. It seems that she can be very selective who she wants to have as an counselor or therapist and I can understand that. But as much as I try to be there for her, I'm not sure if she's getting the help to appease myself and her family or if it's actually for her. She keeps calorie counts which is common with this disease and she doesn't like to eat that much in one day otherwise she will feel guilty. And even though she may not eat much she doesn't also have severe constipation and she doesn't like to oftenly listen to a doctor's advice on what and how stuff should be treated. This girls the Love of my Life and it hurts me everyday to watch her obsess with her size and guilt tripping herself when she feels she had ate to much. I cook almost everything she eats and count the calories in what I make her, I don't want to feel like I'm enabling her though and I don't know if I am. Some days she eats such a low intake that I become very worrisome. When I ask her why she continues she tells me that she wants to be her best self and look beautiful for me, but I know its a cover or diversion from her real answer because I've told her a couple hundreds of times I don't care about her weight I care about her health. I just hope I can find some advice on this situation currently, sorry to bother anybody but I'm worried she may get worse before she gets better and I need to see her get better before the serious health complications begin.
Thank You,


Hi Johnny Bravo,

I'm very sorry you are having to go through this. Lately, there haven't been a lot of responses to posts. So, I will do my best. Eating disorders are a mental illness. Mental illnesses, like addictions, can suck in the people who care for them and make you just as ill.

The first thing you need to research and understand is: "what is enabling".

The second thing you need to accept is that you didn't cause it, you can't control it and you can't cure it, And you need to understand how lacking this boundary feeds into "enabling". You need to look deeply into yourself to find out why you think you have the ability and the "right" to "fix" another person. Instead, you should be looking at yourself and working on your own issues.

You also need to understand why you are allowing her behaviors to shape your behaviors.

That sounds really mean. And it sounds really uncaring. But it is the most honest and caring thing anyone can tell you. Because until you can do this, you are enabling your loved one's illness. She needs to be respected enough to deal with the consequences of her actions. Only then will she be able to make informed decisions.

My suggestion for you would be to seek out a therapist to work with so you learn to set the boundaries that you need to set for yourself. I would also suggest finding an Al-anon group and working on their 12-step program for yourself. I know she isn't an alcoholic, but the coping skills you need are the same.

Sending best wishes. This is a really difficult disorder both to live with and to cure.

I've noticed not many replies

I've noticed not many replies on a lot of threads so I'm glad you responded. I'll do my best to take your advice, her and I both come from a background of addiction but we're both clean now. The only problem is she switched drugs for this. Some people look at the problem and say why don't you just eat but I now understand it's deeper then that. The body dysmorphia also plays a huge role in this issue, I'll try to find a therapist who is suited enough to try and help me with setting some boundaries up. And as much as I try to work on myself, I always constantly worry about her. I especially don't want her illness to be the reason I ever lose her, because it would honestly break me to lose her in my life.

Medical Signs and Symptoms

Hello. You mentioned being worried about your girlfriend's health so we are posting up these signs and symptoms to look out for. 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
  • experience pain in the lower legs
  • 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
  • experience dizziness, nausea, fever
  • wounds/cuts heal slowly
  • feel tingling in the hands or feet
  • blurred vision

If she experiences anything above, we highly recommend seeking help from a medical professional as soon as possible. Seek medical help soon on an outpatient basis if you:

  • have significant heartburn and/or a burning sensation after eating
  • have other gastrointestinal concerns
  • have high blood pressure
  • struggle with significant joint or muscle pain
  • have difficulty sleeping (falling and/or remaining asleep)
  • struggle with fatigue, sudden weight gain, and/or hair loss
  • have frequent urination or unquenchable thirst
  • have gained and lost significant weight repeatedly
  • have gained significant weight in a short period of timestruggle with chronic diarrhea or constipation