National Eating Disorders Association

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How to approach and help friend

Hi there.
I have been friends with this girl for over 10 years and she moved in with a model during COVID.
Ever since she moved in with her new roommate, her eating habits have changed drastically along with her weight. She has had her struggles in the past with body image, but this feels like a lot different and honestly way worse.
She eats all of her food when she’s around me, snacks when i snack, asks for snacks/food, and will announce when she’s hungry, so I can’t assume she’s not eating.. (we are together almost everyday) but when we’ve gone grocery shopping in the past, she would only buy a few types of food. Her fridge is always empty when I’m over, and i never see her eating at home.
Recently she has been showing spiraling and high risk behaviors and blacks out constantly when she drinks. She endured a concussion recently & the doctor advised her to not drink, workout, or work and she did all of the above and pretended she never had one. She works out constantly, and if we eat something “fatty” she will instantly start doing jumping jacks in the living room, run around in circles, or try to go for a walk “to burn calories.” She has an Apple Watch and is obsessed with checking other peoples movements, and “closing out her rings.” We recently took a picture together and that’s when i really realized how tiny she has become as i could really see the bones in her upper body.

Our friends parents are constantly making comments about how skinny she is, and its very uncomfortable and all i want to do is help.. her family has the mentality of entitlement and denial.. so I’m unsure if going to them for help is going to hurt or actually help.
I care about my friend immensely, we have a tight group of girls and we all have noticed her behavior changes along with her incredible weight loss.

I have no idea how to approach this situation, I’m doing all the research i can, and I don’t even know where to start or how to help her. She struggles with PTSD, depression, and has had domestic violence in her past.

Back at you about your friend.

First off, I'm sorry that your post sat here unanswered for so long. NEDA has these forums, but for whatever reason, none of their people seem to put much time into helping with them. So it's pretty much whoever shows up from the public to help.

In any case, yeah, what a mess. I think it's safe to say that your friend is in serious trouble. EDs can really get it's claws into a person, and it sounds that they are into her deep.

Plus she's in one of the earliest stages of an eating disorder too. The part in the beginning where it feels super-rewarding. Boy oh boy, if a person just works hard enough, is hypervigelent, and applies massive amounts of self-dissipline , look at the amazing things that they can accomplish !! So yeah, it's all good, right ?

Except they aren't hip to the part about how they're going crazy. And how their mind is being taken over. They still have this wonderful feeling of control, whereas what's really happening is that their ED is controlling them. But when they are in this early stage, it's hard for them to see any of that. It's true that other people might be showing concern, but those other people…they just don't get it about how great it all is.

The next stage may be the "Uh oh, maybe I am in trouble" stage, but it sounds like she hasn't reached that stage yet. Because yes, the whole thing can start getting emotionally darker for the person, once the reality of their situation starts to sink in.

What anyone can do, it's hard to say. One thing that people with EDs frequently do is to begin to withdraw from their friends, and start withdrawing from the world and it's activities just in general, as their ED thoughts start to become all that their brain can think about. As her friend, you may be in a position to help with seeing that that doesn't happen. Like keep in touch with her, make sure she shows up if you invite her out to things, and do whatever you can to keep her engaged in the every-day world.

The PTSD, depression, and abuse issues may start to get worse as well. Sometimes people use the mental distraction of EDs to try and keep those concerns at bay, but as things begin to play out further and further, those old issues usually start to come out again. " I know that things may be kind of rough for you now"…saying something as simple as that to her might be more helpful than you might think.

Otherwise, yeah ; don't let her start pushing you or her other friends away. EDs can turn into a pretty lonely thing, and you can help by seeing what you can do to not allow that to happen.

Thanks for the info.

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