National Eating Disorders Association

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How do I ask for help?

I recently came to realize that I need some kind of help. I was diagnosed a few years ago w/ a chronic illness and lost weight and became fearful of food. This has spiraled way out of control. I don't see the weight loss (at all!) and now, not only do I fear food but I fear weight gain because I can't see the weight I lost so no matter what I can't convince myself to "just eat". I am also terrified that the doctors making me stop working out once they know, which ironically is the ONLY reason I can convince myself to keep trying to eat.

I recently switched doctors because I didn't like my old one. I want to tell someone but I just don't know how to start that conversation. What do I say when I make the appointment? Will the office ask me what it is about? I don't want to have to tell a bunch of people before I talk to the doctor. I don't even think I can say it out loud. So what do I say to start that conversation? I thought about telling one of my two best friends but I can't they would blame themselves for not seeing it (one has had an ED, one is actually a mental health professional) and I can't handle any more guilt over this.

How do I bring this up to my doctor? I know I need help but I am too scared to act. Too scared they'll lock me up and make me stop running. I can't be put through that, running keeps me sane and keeps me motivated to eat something each day. How do I do this? What kinds of things have others said to bring the subject up with the doctor? What can I expect their response to be? And someone, please tell me it will be worth it.

I, too, was SO SCARED to talk

I, too, was SO SCARED to talk to anyone. I couldn't make my mouth form the words "I think I have an eating disorder." I was too embarrassed and ashamed. But, like you, I did suspect that I had a problem. It was a really overwhelming decision to go to the doctor!

I finally did schedule an a appointment, and just told the nurses I had some "health concerns" I wanted to speak with him about. No one pressed me for more information. Before I went, I wrote down a paragraph with some physical symptoms, thoughts I had, and the sentence "I think I have an eating disorder, and I think I need help."

I knew I would lose the courage to say something out loud, but I could shove a piece of paper in the doctor's hand. :)

It worked, and it was ok! Since then, he ran some tests and recommended other professionals, but the thing that's been really surprising to me is how kind everyone I've encountered has been. They don't make me feel bad, or threaten me, or lose patience with me. They just want to see me healthy and happy!

I hope this helps. For me, the anxiety I felt before asking for help was far worse than anything . My worst fears didn't happen. But I understand the anxiety, and continue to feel it with each new step!

Ranika, Thank you SO much for

Ranika, Thank you SO much for your words. I am so glad I am not the only one like this and someone else has been through it. I am still scared but I keep re-reading your words and they are so comforting that all my fears about telling someone is not going to be as bad as I am imagining. I was actually having nightmares over my fear of telling someone.

I have thought about writing things down as well so I am glad it worked for you! I think that is honestly the best option for me, even if I keep it just as back-up and I didn't think about adding the physical symptoms to it so I really like that idea.

I know I should do this sooner rather than later so I am really going to try to make my appointment for right after Christmas/the holidays depending on his availability. I just keep trying to think others have been through this and the doctor has seen it before but I am so glad that you responded because you have no idea how comforting it is to know I am not the only one no matter what.

Side note: I am SO sorry you are dealing with this too and that you too were scared to seek a doctors help. I am, however, glad that you have had the courage to ask for help and that you were able to overcome the initial fear of telling someone. I wish you all the best in the future battling this beast and just know that your response has meant so much to me. :)

THx! :)

Hi, so I know it can be scary

Hi, so I know it can be scary...TRUST ME! But on october 3rd of this year I finally worked up the courage to ask for help. I needed it badly. I've known ive needed it for the past three years but was in denial and to be honest I had tried to ask but the words just never seemed to come out. Since I couldnt say it is wrote it. Even just handing someone the paper was hard and took me three hours to work up the courage to hand it to them. But i did it! and so can you.

marathonrunner, I'm glad my

marathonrunner, I'm glad my words could help! I keep experiencing anxiety about each new step, but each time I decide to do it anyway, it's always SO MUCH better than I expected. I think it's a little like a muscle: you can't lift the really heavy things at first, but as you lift smaller things, you grow in strength...and when you get back to the really heavy thing, you find you can lift it! Or anyway, that's what I'm hoping! :)

Keep posting as you get closer to appointment time? I'm cheering for you!


I totally understand where you are coming from regarding your fear of not being able to run. I am so glad that you've decided to get help! It's also great to read posts from other people who have replied to you on this forum with such encouraging words - the community we have on the forums is really amazing. As someone who works in healthcare, I am telling you that your doctor has certainly seen people in your situation before, so you shouldn't feel ashamed to bring it up with him/her. If anything, he/she will be thankful that you were so brave and brought it up on your own instead of waiting until he/she learned of it without you admitting it (by seeing the signs that they are taught in medical school to see). Also, ED recovery is a super dynamic process and I think that the most successful recovery can be achieved via a dynamic web of support - perhaps you might consider reaching out to NEDA's helpline to learn some more about treatment/support you could find in your area! The volunteers who work for the helpline know tons of resources that you could use in addition to reaching out to the forum/your doctor/your friends. The number is 1-800-931-2237 and they're available Monday-Thursday from 9:00 am - 9:00 pm and Friday from 9:00 am - 5:00 pm (EST).

Please continue to be strong! We are all here for you! Also, yes, it is ABSOLUTELY worth it ☺

Thanks Hannah!


Thanks for your kind words. I definitely think the NEDA hotline might be able to help. To be honest, however, I have just been too scared to ask anyone for help. I am going to try and start with them to help get resource knowledge before I talk to the doctor.

If I may ask a question because you are in healthcare, I'm not sure you'll know but I figured I would ask. Sometimes I see the nurse practitioner at the practice. Do you think I should request an appointment with the doctor himself or is it something the nurse practitioner could manage? I imagine the doctor will have to be involved in any treatment or recovery process and the reason I am asking is just because I can't imagine having to explain it to both people so I would rather talk to just one initially.

Thanks for your encouragement and resource help. I am glad to see you say it is absolutely worth the help and I am hoping to be strong enough to do this soon!


I recommend asking the receptionist when you call - you don't have to tell your whole story, but you could say that you have some sensitive issues to discuss regarding an eating disorder and that you wouldn't want to have to explain your story twice, etc, and the receptionist can find out whether or not you would have to see the MD - however, the NP would probably be able to help you too! But I would just call and ask.
Best wishes and happy 2015!! Let's make this a happy, healthy, and ED-free year

Thanks Everyone!

I am so thankful for all of the kind comments from all of you. I am still nervous but I know this will be for the best once I see the doctor and just ask them for help. Running is definitely something I don't want to have to give up but I know my current doc is an active runner so I am hoping he will be more able to understand my fears and concerns.

The holidays have been rough keeping this secret (as I am sure it is for anyone working toward recovery or has been in this type of situation). I can't thank you guys enough though. I feel better that I am not alone and that there are definitely others in this situation who have seen better times and outcomes.


I remember when I first let someone know about my disorder. I was very young and had a panic attack at a restaurant. I told my dad, "I'm afraid to eat." It was those simple words that probably had my dad keep a close eye on me and notice when things were getting really bad. I'm not sure what would have happened if I didn't tell my dad. It's thanks to him that I am still alive.
The thing about this disorder, is that it loves to be isolated. It loves to be alone so it can get away with as much as it wants. So as soon as you find support, and be honest, it will help keep you out of isolation and keep you off a dark path.

much luck,

Afraid too

I've been so afraid to admit to the problem too. I know the np on campus really well and she was the one who recognized my mental health problems initially. I know that she would walk alongside me if I opened up to her, but I'm so afraid to. I've actually been paranoid about any medical staff noticing the problem and calling me out on it. I'm beginning to think I should set up an appointment with her sometime and start working on this, but I don't want to be that " girl with the eating disorder" and would honestly be so embarrassed to even admit it.


Wildcat, I know you are afraid of judgement from other people, but whats important is your health. What other people think is not important. I was at one time the girl with the eating disorder, but now I'm the girl who overcame it and people look up to me for it. Each step you take towards recovery is a step to becoming a stronger, healthier, better you.

Much love,

How do i tell someone

I've been seeing my doctor since I was born, I am terrified to ask for help. I'm not sure how to even go about bringing up the subject, I fear he might ask why I have never mentioned this to him before or not take me serious. I've struggled with body imagine for a long time and I want to overcome this. I've never spoke to anyone about how I feel and I am terrified of the process

They care

Hi Jbird26, It's great that you're hoping to bring up the topic with your doctor - that's a big first step in the right direction. :) I can completely understand why that's scary to tell your doctor, I felt the same way about telling my mom. But the important thing to remember is that it's your doctor's job to help you be the healthiest you can be. If you've been seeing him since you were born, he must certainly want that for you. His job isn't to judge you, it's to care for you, and early intervention is extremely important. He should be able to help you find the right resources, too. But if you really don't feel comfortable going to him specifically, maybe you could always seek out the help of a different professional who you've never met yet, to ease those fears?

Good luck and keep us posted, we're here for you <3

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