National Eating Disorders Association

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Girlfriend told me about her bulimia


Yesterday, my girlfriend started crying and told me why she did so. She told me she felt alone, that her friends didn´t care about her. The she proceeded to talk about how she feels disgust while seeing herself in the mirror, and how she feels worried to gain weight. The most worrying thing for me is that she says this has been a problem for her since 10 years or so (She is 19 now). She has been sent to therapy by her parents, but she says it has never worked for her, so I am afraid that if I try to help her the same thing will happen.

We have been together for almost 4 months, and surprisingly, bulimia hasn´t seemed to affect her attitude towards me too much. She is caring and attentive, and wishes to have fun and have a good time. She also studies and works a lot to have good results at school, so I know she is determined to go on in life. When I first met her, she told me she had some health problems, such as acidity in the stomach, and that sometimes she just feels too tired or can´t concentrate, which I believe are the consequences of her disease.

I would like to know how should I approach this situation, specially the therapy part. I first want to tell her that I am worried about her health, that I am grateful she told me and that I want to help her. However, she saying that therapy has not worked for her makes me very anxious. I´m not sure if her parents didn´t support her fully while she went through this process.

I live in México, so I can´t seek therapy help from this association, but I feel the team behind this association is very capable and can help me decide how to deal with the situation.

Thank you very much.

Hi there!

Hello! Welcome to the forums!! Thank you for finding us and trusting us with your situation!!

I'm sorry to hear that your girlfriend has been battling her eating disorder for so long. I think it is great that you are a very proactive support for her! Recovery is possible for every person with an eating disorder. With the resources and support the road through recovery is possible.

Eating disorders are complex things that affect an individual in many diverse ways. I know you mentioned your girl friend had mentioned previous therapy not helping her. Fortunately there are many types of therapies for eating disorders and each person needs to find the right type of help to progress along in recovery! NEDA's connections are far reaching and I think that NEDA would still be able to find resources for you in Mexico! I would suggest calling the NEDA Helpline at 1-800-931-2237 and a representative will be there to help get the process started!

As far as how you support and interact with her, have you asked her what would be best for you to do to help? I always think being open and asking honest questions is the best way to communicate through things like this! Have you asked her if it would be helpful to attend therapy sessions with her? As far as discussing your concerns about her health, it is important to talk about how things affect you. This helps to avoid being confrontational. Statements such as "I am worried that your eating disorder behaviors are impacting your health," would be a great way to start!

Also, another resource that NEDA offers that you are more than able to utilize is the NEDA Navigator program! This program connects you with a trained volunteer who provides you with free support and advice for you and your situation with your girlfriend. It is a great way to connect with someone who has experience recovering from an eating disorder. Here's a link to learn more and to request for a Navigator!

I hope this is a great way to start our conversation! Please let me know if you have additional questions!

Hi there.

Hi there.

My girlfriend recently disclosed the same thing (see forum post before this one) , and a lot of what you said I can relate to.

The one thing that helped my girlfriend to show that I was there for her, was to try and truly understand the affect bulimia has on her. It was incredibly difficult for her to tell me, but with her knowing that I was there for her and doing my best to understand, she's admitted it's already given her a platform to get better.

One of the responses to my post was that I could never be the therapist. I know where her bulimia comes from, but it's not for me to talk her through it. Just being there for her, listening to her when she needs to and NEVER judging her. I'm learning to understand that food can be a fairly crippling thing for her, but I never pressure her in to making a decision over what she wants to eat. If she doesn't want anything, I just don't make a big deal out of it. She's seeing a therapist soon (I'm from England so I can't take advantage from the support groups on here) and I've offered to go with her if she needs to. Her first therapist, about 8 years ago told her she has no hope, so naturally she's incredibly nervous about going.

The fact you've sought your own help is a great start, and she's lucky to have you. It may be very difficult for you at times, I have found it very difficult, but together you will both gradually get her through it. Your unconditional love and support is what she needs. Talk her through your concerns, but understand for her it isn't as simple as 'getting better'. Just explain how you feel about her, and you'll be there for her. It'll mean an awful lot.

I'm totally happy if you wanted to email me for a bit of support (it's good to chat, and we're both going through the same thing). [email protected] if you wanted to.

Good luck buddy.

Thanks for the responses

Hello everyone.

Thanks for the responses, it´s good to see that others are going through the same problem and attempting to do their best about it.

Yesterday i got the opportunity to speak with her, and I was very relieved. I got to know more about how she has confronted this problem, and to my surprise she is very aware of the sickness and it´s effects on her. She has been receiving support from her family since these problems started. She says she is about to attempt a new type of group therapy, where she will work towards her recovery with other people affected by various problems.

The problem for her lies in her lack of trust on her body image. Each time she looks at the mirror she feels disgust. When I tell her she is pretty (I´m not lying), she has a hard time accepting it, She told me she was bullied in elementary and started losing confidence in herself, so the problem is very rooted in the past. Regarding her disorder, she went almost five years eating very little amounts of food, then recovered for a small moment, and then she relapsed on bulimia, which has been going on for a year.

I am worried about her long term health and the fact that she is unstable and can relapse quite easily, though I feel good for her because she is making an effort to work and have a proper life.