National Eating Disorders Association

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My really close friend just told me she relapsed and I would like to support her in any way that I can. She is anorexic and has anxiety. She is 17 and has been through mental health problems before. I have experience dealing with severe depression, anxiety, self harm, and loss of appetite, but I always forced myself to eat when I wasn't hungry because of anxiety. I know it is not that simple for people with eating disorders and I just want to make sure she is safe and healthy. I want to encourage her to eat food, but I don't want to shut her out or pressure her. Any advice on how to be there for her?


Hey Bric,

It really can be hard to get someone to eat when they have an ED. You can tell them all of the good reasons why they should, but often reason has nothing to do with it. Plus the whole "It's not about food" thing, you know ?

The positive thing here, and where your ability to help may lie, surrounds the fact that she actually told you. I mean, it's possible that she's not telling anyone else right now, so the fact that she sees you as safe and trustworthy, just that alone represents something that's already positive and important.

So probably the next thing to wonder about is if she has told anyone else. Like her parents or a counsellor or someone like that ? Because it's likely that she'll need the support of a number of people, you know ?

Often "being there" for someone means just what it says : simply being there as a supportive person in their lives. Someone who is ready to listen to them when they have things on their minds, with care and without passing a bunch of judgment. Kind of how just being able to talk with someone is a big part of how people work things out for themselves. If that makes any sense ?

Also, once you assure her that you are on her side, you could simply ask her how she feels that you might be able to help her. Sometimes it's just being able to listen of course, but now and then there are actual decisions to be made, and various actions that they may find themselves having a hard time figuring out. Also getting to appointments and things like that. Or working up the courage to make calls.

Whatever the case, simply being the sort of friend who she feels she can talk with, it's like you are already helping, you know ?