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Old October 15th, 2011, 06:28 AM   #1
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Amaryllis's Forum Picture
Name: Z
Join Date: June 27, 2011
Age: 22
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Default Helping someone with an eating disorder

Maybe it's a friend, a family member or just someone you see that looks extremely ill. Eating disorders are hard to understand for people who've never had one, hell, people with eating disorders find it hard to understand.

Having help and support during and through your eating disorder/s is invaluable. It makes recovery so much less painful and lonely, it gives you someone you can lean and rely on when your world is falling apart(as well as your hair).

1. Be well informed. Before doing anything, you've got to know what you're dealing with here. It isn't just about wanting to be beautiful or skinny, body image isn't everything. You need to understand that you can't simply say, "Just eat", "Stop bingeing" or "Just be healthy". Eating disorders aren't that simple.

Here are some helpful websites:

- Something Fishy I basically owe part of my life to this website. This is the most important link you and the person with the eating disorder will need.
- Understanding Anorexia, Bulimia and Binge Eating
- Eating Disorders in Teens I don't think this really shows why but it does give you all the warning signs. I will further elaborate on the causes later in the thread.

Eating Disorder Books - How It Feels:
- Wasted by Marya Hornbacker It's quite graphic. A glimpse inside the minds of anorexics and bulimics. I strongly recommend it.
- Massive by Young Picador Written from the daughter of someone with an eating disorder, she later develops one, too.
- Tyranny by Lesley Fairfield An easy read, every page is a drawing. Doesn't so much focus on why but you can see what it does to a person.
- Monkey Taming by Judith Fathallah A book with all the insane things compulsive over exercisers and those with eating disorders. She goes to a mental hospital for teens and meets self-harmers and the like.

2. Approach with empathy. A lot of people lack this. Empathy is the most important part of helping anyone. Telling them to eat and saying "You're beautiful, why can't you see that?" or "Why are you so skinny?" or "Are you anorexic?" isn't going to get you or them, anywhere. Here are a couple tips on how to talk to them:

- Talk to them privately. Eating disorders aren't things they will want to announce out loud for the entire world to hear.
- Keep it to yourself. Unless s/he wants you to tell someone. Don't. However you should gently encourage him/her to tell.
- Prepare to be brushed off and lied to. When people asked me if I had an eating disorder, I told them I just had a magical metabolism.
- Listen. You have 2 ears and 1 mouth, use them in proportion.

3. Be positive and optimistic. Give them compliments. Remind them of good traits they have that don't have to do with how they look. Keep pushing them forwards, no matter how many times they fall back. Let them know it is possible and that you are there for them through better or worse.

4. Express your concern. Instead of focusing on how s/he's becoming "no fun". Say how worried you are for his/her life. How miserable s/he seems and how much you care.

5. Don't comment on anyone's body size. Don't say how this type of slim is good and s/he should aim for that. Don't say this or that person's fat. Don't talk about anyone's weight loss or gain. Take weight and size out of the equation. Hell, don't even say how ugly or pretty someone is. You gotta show him/her that looks don't matter.

6. Avoid calories, healthy eating and exercise. Don't focus on food and exercise. Don't talk about calories, healthy eating or whatever it is. You'll be adding fuel to the fire. If you exercise, don't do it in front of your friend. Often, it is extremely triggering.

7. Set a good example. Eat normally, like you always do, if you eat normally. Help them through. S/he may have a hard time eating in front of people but urge them to, slowly. S/he may eat very slowly, not finish his or her food or chop it up into little piece or attempt to hide it. People with eating disorders have some weird habits. Be gentle and give them time. It takes effort and time to recover from an eating disorder. Urge them to take that extra bite or stop if they're binge eaters but do not force or push.

8. Encourage them to seek help from professionals. This is extremely important. Recovering all on your own with no professional help is very hard to do. If they trust you enough, you could even offer to go with him/her for the first session. However, you should respect your friend's choices.

9. Don't jump in the wagon. Do not, I repeat, do not, develop an eating disorder. Do not start counting calories and competing to be thinner. This will only make it worse. Skinny isn't worth the consequences. Eating disorders aren't worth the hell you will put on your mind and body and that of those around you. They are not coping mechanisms. This leads me to another, do not compare your bodies. Body comparison only makes things worse. Don't say "She's pretty than her." or anything along those lines.

10. Always be there for him/her. When I had my eating disorders, no one talked to me. It was absolutely terrible. No one spoke to, sat with or even looked at me. It couldn't be any worse. True, I was a walking black hole but I wanted someone to help me, so, so badly. I just wanted a friend or at least, for people to act like I still existed. Support and friendship is priceless. It makes the road to recovery so much easier and less painful. No matter how they push you away, stay with them, even if you don't talk about their eating disorders, stay with them. They need it.

Well, good luck. You can also link your friend to this Guide to EDs - Recovery and What to Expect. And tell them this: Life is what you make it. Always has been, always will be.

"Never test the depth of water with both feet." - Some dude whose name I cannot remember

Last edited by Amaryllis; December 16th, 2011 at 06:32 AM.
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