National Eating Disorders Association

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Tokalafox
My friend has a unique case...

Hello,
my friend has something resembling bulimia.. but this isn't about her being concerned about her body image at all.

Let me explain it to my understanding..

This was originally a medical issue.. at one point in her life she had horrible stomach pains.. turns out she was allergic to most things. She used to make herself purge in order to combat the stomach pains she'd get.

Now she has her diet mostly figured out.. but she gets anxiety really bad because of experiences she's had in her life... and she uses purging as a coping mechanism whenever she gets too anxious... and one of the things that makes her anxious is digesting food. She can deal with it if she's with friends.. or with me in particular... but when she goes home she very easily goes on what she refers to as a "cycle" which is similar to binge eating and purging.

I want to know if this is really a unique case.. and if anyone else has seen this sort of thing before.. I really want to help her. And help her feel like she's not so alone. I'm doing as much as I can, but my company will only be so reassuring to her.

torib23
Tokalafox,

Tokalafox,

First off, I commend you for being such a good friend and for wanting to understand and help your friend as best as you can. As far as this being a unique situation, it is definitely not uncommon for factors beyond body image to contribute to eating disorders, but they manifest themselves differently in every person who struggles, and recovery looks different for everyone as well. I would say that each person is on a unique road to recovery. I definitely recommend calling the NEDA Helpline at 1-(800) 931-2237 (Mon-Thur 9am-9pm EST, Fri 9am-5pm) for more information and assistance regarding this topic.

I feel as though I can relate to your situation very well, as I found myself in the same position not too long ago. My best friend struggled with an eating disorder for a while, and all I wanted was to help her. There were definitely times that I felt helpless and didn’t know what to do or say, but making sure that she knew I was there for her was one of the best things I could have done. Though it may not feel like you’re doing much, just knowing that you’re there for her is something that can and will help her so much as she progresses toward recovery. On another note, is she currently seeing a nutritionist or therapist? If she isn’t, I think suggesting that to her is a good next step, because professional help will definitely be a big help to her. If she is, perhaps you can ask her to go with her to one of her sessions. This would help you have better insight into what she’s feeling, as well as let her know how much you care. For now, I suggest calling the helpline as I mentioned before and just reassuring her of your support.

I hope this helped!
Tori

hannahls
Tokalafox

Tokalafox,

It's awesome that you care so much about your friend, and Torib23 was right - eating disorders are often related to things other than body image itself. Even so, that doesn't change the fact that purging after eating can cause a wide range of serious medical problems, and your friend needs help. Calling the helpline that Torib23 mentioned is definitely a good idea - you could even tell your friend about the helpline and offer to call with her. Please keep advocating for your friend! She is so lucky to have you!

Good luck
Hannah