National Eating Disorders Association

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SARAHD
I'm worried about my friend but it makes me angry

Hi, My sister is currently being treated for depression, anxiety and anorexia. Having seen what she has been going through, and doing a lot of reading and attending the family sessions in her group therapy, I have built up quite an awareness of ED.

I am worried that my friend is on her way to heading down this road. She is obsessed with dieting and exercise. I am her nanny and for the past week she has been finishing work early to get home and hit the treadmill so I can watch the kids while she does it.

I have found notes where she is working out the calories in meals.

She is eating tiny meals (as in her lunch is what I would have for a snack) which are healthy, but is just restricting restricting restricting! If she breaks her rules, she goes off the deep end and gets all depressed because she isn't being healthy anymore.

She recently started seeing a personal trainer who said evaluated her and she is athletic and in good shape, but she still talks negatively about how certain parts of her body look.

Not a conversation goes by where she doesn't mention food or exercise. I am finding myself not wanting to talk to her because I get so frustrated with it. i don't feel like this with my sister, I'm not sure if it is because I live some distance away from her so haven't had to listen to her obsessions everyday like I am now.

I actually think I am just struggling because I don't know what to do. I have to get everything off my chest so this is where I am starting. I feel like I can't talk to my partner about my concerns because he doesn't get it. He thinks my sister is just doing it for attention and she has been hospitalised so he wouldn't understand my concerns for my friend.

I don't know if I should talk to her husband for the same reasons. To anyone else she probably just looks like any normal female- looking after her weight with healthy eating and exercise. I don't know if I am just reading too much into everything because of my sister. Her husband is obsessed with good looks and likes to show her off.

I want to talk to her but I just don't know what to say. I want her to stop talking about exercise and diets and calories and the goodness and badness of foods with me but I am too scared to ask her to stop. I don't want to ruin our friendship. But I feel like if I don't say something we will suffer anyway. We can be having lots of fun and talking and laughing and then as soon as she says something my mood just changes. I find myself wanting to go home and I can feel that I am talking differently after- you know when you are feeling a bit annoyed how you just don't quite talk the same? I want to be there for her but I just can't handle listening to these comments all the time.

like I said, I really just needed to get this off my chest, so thanks for reading! If anyone does have any advice or anything I would be greatly appreciative.

BobJ48
Sarah,

Sarah,

Well, it's strange. We live in this era where pretty much all of these behaviors are seen as admirable. She's "eating healthy" and look how slender and fit she's getting ! Just like everyone wishes they were !

Plus, like you said, as someone who also has a lot of experience with people with EDs…maybe we're just oversensitive, and reading things into otherwise innocent situations.

Or…maybe not.

The things you mention would all seem like red flags to me as well. Not so much the behaviors themselves, but more the direction her mind seems to be going. One little "slip" and the person starts to loose it. The way that various obsessive thoughts start to take over the person's mind, to the point where it seems like for big portions of the day, that's all they can think about.

And you are right in wondering what to do. If people know they have a problem we can be supportive. But if they don't know (yet) that they have a problem, where does that leave us ? It's like *they* have to give us something to support, before we can support them.

But I think it might be fair to tell her about your sister, and how that's caused you to be extra-sensitive about things like food and weight talk. Because its' the truth : You are, you know ? Do you think she would hold that against you ?

But still, I know you worry that she might see it as a criticism, but really, you could just explain to her the ways that your sister thinks and acts, so it could help her understand your sensitivity.

You never know, she just might reveal to you that she finds herself having some of those same thoughts to.

Bob J.

nanzhu
You're on the right track

Hi Sarah,
First of all, your friend is lucky to have someone like you who is so concerned about her! It sounds like you're in a tough situation and struggling with wanting to help her get better, without putting a strain on your relationship. I agree with Bob's comment above that these behaviors seem like they are slipping in a worrisome direction and I would recommend that you talk to her about your concerns, from a loving and honest point of view.

It might be helpful to explain how her behaviors are making you feel (for example "it makes me feel worried when you..." or "I feel concerned about your health when you...") so you are expressing your feelings and why you feel that way, without blaming her or giving her too strong of suggestions at first that might cause her to feel criticized. Just as you posted too, I think just telling her that you want to help her in any way you can might help her feel supported and more comfortable talking to you when she's ready. Depending on how receptive your sister is and where she goes on her recovery journey, offering to go with her to doctors appointments or therapy sessions might also be helpful (though this depends on her personality too which you can gauge better than I can!)

The NEDA Helpline is a great service that can offer other options or resources that may be helpful: 1-800-931-2237, M-R 9-9, F 9-5 EST. The NEDA Navigators program can also match you up with someone who has also experienced trying to help a loved one with an eating disorder, who can also offer support or help you find other resources: http://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/neda-navigators. Here are some other links that might be helpful too: Parents, family, friends network (http://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/parent-family-friends-network) and treatment options (http://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/seeking-and-securing-treatment).

I hope this helps. Keep going - recovery can be very different for each person, so figuring out how to help someone through it can be very unpredictable. You're on the right track though!

Stay strong,
Nan