National Eating Disorders Association

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How to guide friends in support?

I'm currently fighting for recovery, and have been gradually opening up to one of my best friends, with a changing dynamic between us (we both like each other more than friends). He can be a little cold when I talk about my ED and my negative thoughts. He's the sort of person who doesn't like to beat around the bush and be straight to the point, but I receive it as cold-hearted and unsympathetic a lot of the time. I want to help him understand what I need to best support me, but I'm not sure exactly what to tell him. I also really want to open up to my friends more, but it just feels like they can't understand. Is there anyone that can give advice or talk about their experience? I'm still trying to navigate what it takes to recover and how to change almost a lifetime of self-negativity. Anything you can do to help me help my friends to better understand would be greatly appreciated.

Helping friends understand.

Hey Lost,

You know, I think it's really hard for people without experience to understand EDs. You can see why they might think it's about weight and food and eating and appearance and such. That's pretty much what it seems like from the outside, so it's hard to blame them for not understanding.

Add to that the fact that generally friends do want to help, and you can see why their help doesn't always feel like help.

Like with this fellow for example. The reason he may see cold is because he's not really getting it, and thinks that it should be more simple than you're trying to make it ? But at the same time is made uncomfortable by the thought that he might not understand.

So while it would be best if they understood more, I'm not sure that it should be your personal job to educate them. That's just my opinion of course; but often things are just too close to the bone, I think ?.

But it would be good if they educated themselves, you know ? And maybe you could help them with that. If there's some good books you know, or resources online you could direct them to that would help them to get it, I think that that's probably the best way to go about it.

Also, if they do express a desire to help, be prepared ahead of time to tell them what would feel helpful to you. You don't want to find yourself ad-libbing when they ask, if you know what I mean ?

When it comes to opening up to friends, you'll want to pick and choose who you tell, I think. Some people will honor the fact that you told them, while others may not. And those who don't may end up responding in ways that are triggering. So you'll want to be selective I think ?

In any case, just some thoughts. Keep writing ?