National Eating Disorders Association

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Twilliam
Wife ED Surprise - No Idea How to Help

I've been married just over a a year but we've been together for 10 years now.

Sorry for the TLDR, This is all new to me and I'm struggling to figure out my role in helping to support my wife battle her ED.

Just last night my wife confided to me for the first time that she is bulimic and has been for almost 5 years. She completely concealed it from everyone in her life, including me. I'm in complete shock; I had no knowledge that she was suffering from an ED and the fact she kept it so well hidden for that long...I felt like I had failed as a partner. Why hadn't I noticed? Was I not supportive enough? Why hadn't she trusted me enough to tell me?

I love her so much and just want her to be happy/healthy, both physically and emotionally.

I am totally overwhelmed with emotions and have no idea how to move forward. I assured her that I love her and wanted to make sure she knew I wanted what was best for her. It's all been kinda messy and awkward since then and I feel at a loss for how to proceed "normally".

I don't want her to retreat inside herself again now that she's finally come out and told me, but I also have so many questions and feelings about this that it's totally killing me that I'm worried to speak about it openly. #stuck

I feel selfish thinking this way, but we have been talking about kids recently and my mind immediately went to the implications an ongoing ED would have on the pregnancy. I want my wife to know that her life and health are paramount, but also what the impact her actions may have on our family planning.

I want to support my wife, I want her to win the battle with her ED, I don't know how I help her do that.

-Twill

PianoGirl
Hi Twilliam,

Hi Twilliam,

Thank you so much for sharing your story with us. I can't imagine what you are going through right now. Eating disorders affect not only the person suffering from them, but their loved ones as well. It's okay that in addition to worrying about her, you're thinking about family planning, too. This is a lot to deal with, and you're right - there are a lot of implications to having an eating disorder. I don't think you're being selfish at all.

I want you to know, the fact that your wife has an eating disorder does not mean that you have done anything wrong! EDs are complex, and though most people who have EDs try to hide their behaviors while they are in the midst of their disorder, it doesn't mean that your wife sees you as untrustworthy or not supportive enough. On the contrary, it sounds like you really care about her a lot.

Your wife has made a huge first step in finally telling you about what she's going through - do you feel comfortable asking her if she feels like sharing more with you? Sometimes it can be a huge relief to have someone to talk to.

Beyond that, I have a few resources that will have more information for you as you deal with this. There's the NEDA Navigators, who include people who have a loved one who has suffered from an eating disorder. More info here:http://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/neda-navigators

Secondly, here is the Parent Toolkit that NEDA has compiled. This is not just for parents, but for close family and friends as well. It gives you basic information on EDs, how to supportive, etc.: http://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/parent-toolkit

Importantly, please take care of yourself. This is a big burden to deal with. Make sure that you are also getting the support and resources you need. We are here for you!!