National Eating Disorders Association

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Girlfriend with Anorexia Relapse

Hello all, I recently joined this website and found this forum. I was wondering if any of you had some advice for the situation my girlfriend and I are currently in.

My girlfriend is 22 and I am 20, we have been together for over four years, since we were both in high school. She struggled with anorexia at that time, as well as earlier in her life, and through support from her friends, family, and the therapist at the school, she was able to begin the path of recovery. Although she still had harder days and occasionally struggled with her relationship with food, things were much better.

Within the past few months, she has opened up to me about her relapse. She now is struggling in a similar way as she was in high school. However, she does not live at home, and does not have the same strong support system she originally had earlier in life. Her insurance is lacking, and she cannot afford a therapist or regular doctor's visits to seek treatment. I feel as though I was able to help her more in high school, but that could be because she had a bigger support group.

I struggle more to help her now as well, because I have a negative body image, especially after gaining some weight currently as a college student. I have never experienced an ED, but I have never liked how I looked. I know that the way she sees herself does not affect the way she sees me, but I worry that I seem huge compared to her. I believe that this affects my ability to know how to help her without being confident in myself.

I'm not entirely sure how to support her if she is unable to have any professional help. I am afraid of what will happen if things get worse. If anyone has any advice, I would be thankful.



First off, I'm sorry that your post sat here unanswered for as long as it did. I had something written to you a couple of days ago, but then my computer crashed and I lost it. Which can make it hard to try and write things again.

But yeah, what about our friends who are relapsing ? And what about it when the resources they need don't seem to be there for them anymore ? It can be a worrisome thing alright, given that EDs are difficult even under the best of caring conditions.

I guess what I would say is that because she has gone through this before, at least she has some perspectives and experience that she did not have the first time. Granted it can be extra-discouraging to find one's self falling into the same old places that they worked so hard to get themselves out of in the past. Just that realization is discouraging enough on it's own. But if one looks at it from another perspective, it's like they also know the ropes of the thing a bit better too. Sure they know how bad things can be, but a part of themselves also knows that it's possible to get better too. Even if the "getting better" part may not feel very close at the moment. '

Also, like you said, things like this can cause us to reflect on our own worries and self-doubts, as far as the whole body image thing goes. Which...perhaps can be a good thing for us, I sometimes think. You'll just have to see, I think. The whole confidence thing can be an issue I know.

As far as your friend, it's possible that there are still some resources she could access. Low cost support groups that hospitals often sponsor, or support forums or things like that. It might be work giving the NEDA people a buzz on their call-in lines, to get a better idea of what may be available like that ?

In any case things like this can be complicated I know, so I hope you can keep writing, if it feels like it helps a little.

Bob J.