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» Scarleteen Boards: 2000 - 2014 (Archive) » SCARLETEEN CENTRAL » Bodies » questions on bulimia

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Author Topic: questions on bulimia
d'orsday
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Member # 95502

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Hi all!
I'm new to Scarleteen, so I'm not sure if this is the right place to post these types of questions, but hopefully someone out there will be able to help me. I have a really good female friend (we're very very close but an entirely platonic relationship) who I know struggled with bulimia several years ago. Yesterday she confessed that while I had been away for a few days, she had binged and purged. She told me this right before we were hosting a party with lots of food, and she was upset that she was unable to exercise to "justify" her eating. It's been years since she last did this (I didn't know her at the time) and I'm afraid that she is struggling with the urge again- I'm just not sure how I can possibly help, or even what to say to her. We're really loving to one another- I tell her every day how much I care for her, and how beautiful she is, but I don't know what else I can do to support her. Last night she ended up talking it through "at" me- she just talked about how this one party wasn't going to make a difference and how she leads a very fit lifestyle, with lots of regular exercise. I think that helped her, but I'm not entirely sure.She asked me not to say anything in response, so I didn't, but I felt helpless, and once she was finished, changed the subject.
I guess I'm just feeling a little lost, having never experienced this before, and not realizing that these kinds of issues can keep coming back, even years later. This girl is gorgeous, and at a perfect weight- we're the same size, but she's more in shape and weighs a little less than I do. While I sometimes feel bad about my weight (entirely irrationally), it's never to that extent. I'm not entirely sure whether I can ask her directly about it without seeming like I distrust her or triggering the urge. . . if anyone has any experience with dealing with a friend's eating disorder, some advice would be helpful. Thanks!

Posts: 7 | From: Canada | Registered: Apr 2012  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Heather
Executive Director & Founder
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Welcome, and sounds like you're a really awesome friend. [Smile]

You know, eating disorders generally aren't about looks: they're really about control issues, pretty huge ones. To boot, most people with eating disorders suffer from body dysmorphia: how they see themselves tends to be very different from how they look to others, or even look, period. At an extreme, for instance, someone with body dysmorphia could see, say, a scar they think is huge and so, so visible while other people could be trying to see it and see no scar at all.

But EDs are very serious, and can put someone's health and life at serious risk, so it's not something you want to try and handle on your own, or just let sit there. Not only can you not handle it on your own -- after all, you're not a specialist in this, but as her friend, you also have an emotional relationship that would make you the wrong person to be her only or primary support in this even if you did -- someone with an ED needs qualified help.

So, I'd say the best bet for both of you is to try and get her connected with that kind of help. Do you know if she currently sees a mental health professional about this, or if she has in the past?

--------------------
Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
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Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

Posts: 68290 | From: An island near Seattle | Registered: May 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
d'orsday
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Hi! Thanks for your quick reply.
I know that she's seen someone else in the past about her ED, but that she's not seeing anyone currently. In a few weeks she's going to be moving to the backwoods for the duration of the summer, and so I think there won't really be any opportunity for her to talk to anyone then.
Is it common for these types of disorders to keep reoccurring, or to pop up as isolated 'episodes' every several years? It seems like an awful struggle to spend your life with. I also know that it's a really stressful time for her right now- would that be a factor?

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Heather
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By all means, for any of is, stress can tend to trigger or amp up the things we struggle with, and EDs are not exception.

What I'd see if you can't suggest is that she call the person she saw in the past and ask for some help. She might just need help from them -- or suggestions on what she does need -- to help get her over this hump.

Too, a lot of therapists anymore are willing to work with people via Skype or phone, especially when their access is otherwise limited.

--------------------
Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me • Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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d'orsday
Neophyte
Member # 95502

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Thanks so much for your help. I'll make the suggestion, and try to be supportive as a friend, not more.
It's also just reassuring to be able to tell someone about it, as I know she hasn't shared with any other friends, so there's no one I can bounce my own worries off of. Thanks for that!

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Heather
Executive Director & Founder
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Of course. And I think we can always tell friends that we are glad to be a support as they need one AS a friend, but a) don't have the relationship or training to do the heavy carrying, and b) need our own boundaries so we aren't carrying more than we can, too.

We're also glad to talk with you about your own feelings around this if you want. For instance, it can be challenging to support someone through body issues if and when you have your own. Even just listening to someone talk about how yucky their body is when, from your view, it's more ideal than you think your own is can be rough sometimes.

--------------------
Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me • Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

Posts: 68290 | From: An island near Seattle | Registered: May 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
d'orsday
Neophyte
Member # 95502

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Thanks again for your advice. In the past few days I've certainly become less worried about my friend's behaviour; I don't think she's been feeling the urge to binge/purge since that night, and I feel a lot more comfortable in speaking with her about it, because I don't feel the pressure to "find a solution" on my own for her, if that makes sense.

While I've certainly sometimes felt a little down on my own body in the past, and still hope to become more fit, I'm actually quite happy with the way I look. The supportive friendship goes both ways, and I'm really lucky to be surrounded by many good friends who are incredibly and genuinely loving. When I think about wanting to exercise, it's less about changing my body to reach an 'ideal' and more about keeping active and fit. So while I've been thinking a lot about female ideals of beauty, and how much pressure is put on us to look a certain way, it's been more of a thought process about general trends in society and media than about my own body, which, sappy as it sounds, I've been learning to love through friends who tell me each day how much they love it- not because it achieves these external ideals, but because it can give great hugs, and cuddle, and houses my brain, and my self. I look at my friends and realize I find them beautiful not because of their bodies, but because of themselves, and how much I love them, and then think about my own body in that way. It's so easy to look at bodies objectively in terms of weight, or height, or even jawlines or eye shape, but when I look at the people I love (my family and friends), it's impossible for me to look at them that way. So I do my best not to look at my own body that way either!

Sorry for turning this into a bit of a rant, that's not where I meant to take this at all. I just wanted to say that I've found a good place in the way I think about my body, and so, while it bothers me that my friend suffers from body issues, I don't feel as though it changes the way I think about my own body.

Posts: 7 | From: Canada | Registered: Apr 2012  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
   

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