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My friend has an eating disorder and I don’t know how to help

MinaLou
Community Member

They can’t afford the psychologist and hasn’t told their parents, they’ve only recently told me about 3 months ago, even though it’s been happening for several.

We’d recently had a solid 3 months of eating 3 meals which I knew was really hard for them. They lapsed yesterday though.

I don’t see it getting better without speaking to a professional but I don’t think they can. What do people with an eating disorder need most from a friend? I don’t know if it’s wrong of me to try change their habits ?

3 Replies 3

Sophie_M
Moderator
Moderator
Dear MinaLou,

This is such a brave and important question! We are so grateful you could just us and reach out to our community. 

You are being such a loyal friend, and many of the members of the forum will want to reach out to you about this I am sure; but it sounds like you have taken most of their care on yourself? You have been helping them eat for three months? That is such an incredible act of empathy and compassionate friendship - but it's a lot isn't it? Lets check in with you too - are you coping ok? Please you know you can check in with us any time 24/7 - on webchat or on 1300 22 4636/

Perhaps also consider getting support at Carers Australia?1800 242 636  Most importantly, you can get more advice and info on ED from our amazing friends at the Butterfly Foundation; call 1800 33 4673 and check them out on https://butterfly.org.au/ and maybe you can help your friend talk to them too? they really are incredible!

In  the meantime, please be proud of yourself! We are lucky to have you here, and your friend is blessed to have you with them!

Regards,

Sophie M

On The Road
Community Champion
Community Champion

Dear MinaLou

Thanks for being a supportive friend that has been helping your friend, I agree with Sophie that it's been hard for you as well, make sure you take care well of yourself. 🙂

Assuming you and your friends are students, it is time to talk to school counsellors or coordinators. I think health professionals, physicians would help your friend to evaluate your friend's physical health and mental health before taking the next steps. This is a complex issue but a majority of people suffering from eating disorders do well with therapy. As a friend, you already are doing great. You have been there for them when they need you. it's not about right or wrong that you wanted to "change their habits", you are a supportive friend, not a professional therapist. Don't be too hard on yourself. 😊 Good luck!

livi_mivi
Community Champion
Community Champion

Hey MinaLou,

You should be very proud of yourself for being such a dedicated and supportive friend. Your friend is very lucky to have you and I’m sure she can recognise all your amazing efforts.

It sounds as though you truly want the best for her and care deeply about her. It’s not wrong to want to help them in changing their habits, especially because it is harming them. It is however a very difficult and complex thing to do and often why obtaining professional help is required. Do you think she might feel comfortable opening up to her parents so that she can get their help too? Is there any other trusted adults or facilities at school that she has access too?

You are doing the absolute best that you can for your friend and I’m sure you are ticking most of the boxes for what she needs. Often eating disorders are stigmatised and in some cases, the severity is downplayed which can invalidate a person’s struggles. Wishing you and your friend all the best.