National Eating Disorders Association

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SheerHope
I dont know what to do - Please help

I'm in what seems to be an impossible situation, hopefully someone will read this and can give me some advice...

In October of 2014 I started talking to a girl on Facebook that I used to work with who I knew was married, at least from when we had worked together. She had moved out of town and I asked her if she was still with her husband and she said that they were separated. I initially only continued to pursue her because she had said this and because she expressed interest in me from back when we had worked together. As our texts and talks increased, she decided to move back to town and since she had nowhere else to go and we didn't know eachother well enough for her to come stay with me, she moved into her husband's spare bedroom.

She mentioned that she has Anorexia but I didn't know anything about what that entailed and didn't think much of it initially. Upon her arrival, apparently he was not of the understanding that they were separated and looked at it as her returning back to stay with him and (I guess) patch up their marriage, which was not her intention at all. She and I began to see eachother, basically sneaking around in order to preserve her being able to stay there. (I know how bad this sounds - it gets worse)

After doing this and getting caught by him more than once, but continuing to see eachother because our feelings for one another had developed into love, we decided for her to come stay with me. I read everything I could find about Anorexia and how to support someone who suffers from it and thought I was prepared. Her staying with me was very shortlived. Her eating has become very restrictive and she is very sick. I asked her if she wanted to go back and she nodded yes. She has since moved back in over there, the idea being that, while she isn't happy there, I know he can get her to eat because he has been through this and seen her go through this in the past. The stress of the situation caused the disorder to "become awake" as she puts it. We still keep in touch and still plan to move in together again, but I want her to get some real professional help and be actively pursuing recovery and getting the support she needs before we go any further in the area of living together.

Since then, her eating has become even more restrictive. She will go back and forth between saying she "wants to want to" recover and then saying she doesn't want to recover at all and doesn't want to eat at all.

I just don't know what to do. I feel like I'm losing my mind. We love eachother is all I know. She tells me things like that I'm "all she has". She doesn't speak to her family, and almost all of them are out of state. She doesn't have any friends to turn to, so in a sense, she is right. This situation is just beyond anything I can even explain... This is the best way I can, but even this leaves out alot. All I know is I want her in recovery and back with me. It just all seems so impossible.

mycatblue
SheerHope

Your girlfriend is very lucky to have someone that cares about her recovery; I can tell that you care very much for her and her health. Eating disorders are complicated and recovery is a life long process. Like she mentioned life stress can exacerbate symptoms and it sounds like she is feeling pulled in two directions with her illness, one part of her wants to go into treatment and another is not ready.

Though it can be hard supporting someone that may not want to get better, being there for her, supporting her, and trying to talk to her about seeing a doctor is important.

It is wonderful that you want to help your girlfriend but please make sure to take care of yourself as well! It may be helpful to contact NEDA’s hotline if you need to take (1-800-931-2237) or find a support group in your area (hotline volunteers can help you find one).

Here are a few links that may help start the conversation.

The NEDA Navigators program: http://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/neda-navigators - These are NEDA volunteers that have helped a friend or family member through an ED. Navigators are familiar with the emotions involved with seeking help and working towards recovery.

Parent, Family, Friends Network: http://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/parent-family-friends-network
How to help a friend: http://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/how-help-friend-eating-and-body-i...
What should I say: http://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/what-should-i-say
Treatment options: http://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/treatment

kayleigh91
This sounds extremely messy.

This sounds extremely messy.
And I remember being this person myself.
He was my fiance at the time, and he was the only one that I felt like could help. I also started seeing other people behind his back. I know I sound like an awful person right now, but I believe it was my eating disorder trying to distract me? I ended up staying with my fiance and we got married, and now I'm recovered. but looking back on it, I feel like I was using these other guys to manipulate and help me not recover in some sort of way. I know that could be very unhelpful. But maybe this is something that her husband should be helping her with?

KayLeigh

Cosmia
Not enough context

KayLeigh,

Although I can totally relate to your perspective (my ED also drove me to self-destructive infidelity), I don't know if it's fair to make assumptions about SheerHope's girlfriend's relationship with her husband and the role that he should play in her recovery. We don't really know these people apart from SheerHope's description of the situation. More importantly, we do know that SheerHope is very concerned and willing to reach out to the forum for advice and help, independent of her husband and his efforts.

SheerHope, I think the best thing you can do is just continue to encourage her to get the professional help of a therapist, not only for her ED, but for all the other stressors you mentioned, including her isolation from her family and her dependence on you and her husband for housing. I believe that your ability to help (as well as your own mental health) are compromised by your heavy emotional investment. You could try emphasizing to her that you love her, but you can't be "all she has." No single person is capable of carrying such a large burden and perhaps if she comes to realize that, she'll be more willing to seek out professional assistance.

SheerHope
Thank you - here's a little more background

I appreciate your responses...
There are many details to my story that would lead to a very VERY long post... Sufficed to say she has expressed to me repeatedly since I took her back over there to stay with her current husband that she does not want to be there and that she wants to return to staying with me. According to her, she became very distressed because I prepared her a meal. Part of our original idea, which I thought was a good one at the time, was that we would make eachother food. I thought it would be a good idea and I had gotten her to eat a small meal once before, which she was so appreciative of the fact that I'd made her something to eat... She said no one had ever done that.... So I thought here's a good way to approach this. But she freaked because I included one relatively rich ingredient. She curled up into a ball and then I freaked out a bit and asked her if she wanted to go back to staying with him - my thinking being he knows her ways better because of experience and will at least get her to eat and (hopefully) get her some real help...
Now they are making appointments and so forth with professionals, so I am encouraged by that, although in my opinion she really needs inpatient help, something she would never do willingly I don't think.
She still insists she wants to come back to stay with me, which I do want also... We love eachother, this isn't an instance of a few times of infidelity, as KayLeigh illustrated... We have a relationship in its own right, albeit stifled by the situation...But I worry greatly as to what this could entail and if there is an unseen motive that isn't being expressed (such as the disorder itself acting in this as some way to get free reign - where once again, over there she is miserable but at least he can get her to eat. When I do the math I'm terrified for her... She keeps saying she is fine and not to worry and that she will be fine and we will have an awesome life together.... I just can't make her see how bad it is. She says she's always been like this and her body can endure it and that she has recovered once before... I'm just completely lost as to how best to approach this. More advice please... And once again thank you.

morgs87
SheerHope,

SheerHope,

It is clear that you care very strongly girlfriend and her health, and I think she is very lucky to have someone like you in her life. I know that it must be difficult to support someone disordered eating, especially when they do not seem to be concerned with the situation/want help. It is important that you talk to your girlfriend about getting professional help. Calling the NEDA Helpline at 1-800-931-2237 (M-R 9-9, F 9-5 EST) is a good place to start, as they’ll be able to point you in the direction of various resources in your area.

Eating disorders are complicated and recovery can be difficult, but it is possible! The best thing you can do is stay supportive and make sure that she knows that you are there for her. Also, it is important to make sure that you are taking care of yourself as well!

Below are some links that you might find helpful:

Parent, Family, Friends Network: http://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/parent-family-friends-network
How to help a friend: http://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/how-help-friend-eating-and-body-i...
What should I say: http://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/what-should-i-say
Treatment options: http://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/treatment

Cosmia
Fantastic First Step!

I'm so happy to hear that she's making appointments with professionals! This is a HUGE step towards her recovery. I think it's really important for her to have support from someone to whom she is not deeply emotionally attached. Even if you think inpatient treatment is her best option, she may need to hear it from a professional before she's able to accept it. Just continue being supportive and let her know how proud you are that she's seeking treatment!