National Eating Disorders Association

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Girlfriend with Bulimia

Hello all,

I'm glad I found this site, as its starting to help me not worry so much. It should also be noted that I am going to have a phone counseling about all this tomorrow with a psychologist, and will most likely lead to a counseling session to help me figure out better ways to support her.

So here's the gist:

I always knew my girlfriend grew up with ED, and it wasn't until about a month ago she told me she still has ED and struggles with binging to purge. . She moved to Connecticut 2 weeks ago, for a year long research project through our college, and started pushing me away a little before she left. One night she came over and cried and told me all about her issues, and said she didn't think i would want to be with her. Obviously thats ridiculous, and i love i want to help. We have had a really good week her first week there, but I kind of thought it was too good to be true, that she just stopped cold turkey, especiallly since she's been very stressed out lately. Last night i found out she has binged/purged 4 times in the 8 days she's been gone. She won't have access to therapy down there, as she does not have good insurance, and the research lasts for a year. So in my head, i'm assuming its going to be virtually impossible to heal her in that year, as we are separated by 600 miles, and she will have a lot of stress in her life.

My biggest thing is to just help her, and maybe reduce the amount of bingeing/purgeing and maybe help her set some goals and what not. I'll be visiting her about every 2 months, and i'm positive she'll purge after i leave. The wild part is she is very intelligent in chemistry and anatomy of the body. She knows exactly what happens. She goes as far as using antacids to reduce acid damage, as well as electrolyte refill afterwards to bring her body back to equilibrium. She was just given a full bloodwork physical and is in ridiculously good shape. She is also very honest with me about a lot of things, and tells me when seh starts "urge surging", or having tingley feelings to go binge/purge. She also tells me when she lied, and why she doesn't want to tell me, becasue then she will not be able to purge and get that "high feeling". She is 24 now, and has had this issue on and off for 10 years. She has told me that I have given her the drive to move forward and start recovering, as well as her new research job, but a relationshiop and new job adds stress, and she becomes numb, and then binges and purges in the later night time. She has said she puts off her feeling so she can talk to me, but then stays up all night to do it. I think we're headed down the right path, I just need help.

Any help is apprecitated. Thanks!


Hi Gustav7,

Welcome to the forums! Thank you so much for posting here and sharing with us- and thank you for your deep concern for your girlfriend. It is wonderful that she has your support moving forward and that you are seeking to learn more about ED in order to do that. Know that you are never alone- and these forums are full of people struggling with different forms of ED or supporting a loved one in their struggles. We are all here for you.

It does seem like your girlfriend's circumstances are difficult between the stress, lack of access to therapy, and not having you directly there. Does anyone else know about her struggles as well? It could be helpful to have someone nearby- whether it is a mentor, friend, family member, etc- aware of what is going on- that she could check in with regularly so she is not isolated out there. And you shouldn't be the only one carrying the weight of her pain. There also may be options for support groups where she can meet with individuals going through similar issues and that could be very helpful. NEDA does have a great resource in which they can assist in locating help: their helpline is 1-800-931-2237 and it is open Monday-Thursday 9am-9pm and Friday 9am-9pm. I would encourage her to give them a call and see what they can do in terms of options even though the insurance seems to limit things. Still definitely worth discussing with them.

I would say the most crucial thing you can do for her is to just be there- give her a space to share where she is at, listen, let her know how much you care. Show concern out of love and understanding, but do not pressure or condemn her for behaviors tied to a disease she cannot control. Allow the room for her to explore what could be the underlying roots of the disorder. Learning as much as you can about ED is important, which you are clearly already doing:) The most powerful things my friends did for me when I was in the throws of my ED was remaining loyal, as many did not know how to handle it and either withdrew from the relationship or just did not acknowledge what I was going through which was the most hurtful. Clearly she trusts you enough to open up to you and be honest with you even when she is having trouble- so don't be afraid to have meaningful discussions around it, how the ED is serving her and the ways in which it is harmful & limiting her. Understanding the complexity of eating disorders, how they emerge, and how deep the roots run is really key to helping someone while not making assumptions or generalizations that will frustrate them more.

I hope this was somewhat helpful, but I know it doesn't erase the fact that this is just so hard. Recovery is a long, non-linear process- and it seems like your girlfriend is nearing the point of truly wanting to recover which is a wonderful first step. Most of all, be sure to remember to take care of yourself. I am glad you are able to potentially start counseling, to talk about this and also hopefully to have support as you are walking alongside your girlfriend. Again, she is so lucky to have you. Please keep us posted on how you both are doing- let us know how the phone call with the psychologist went!