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young man with anorexia

(3 Posts)
kphr Thu 21-Jun-12 22:04:08

Sorry to write a long post. Any urgent advice appreciated.

A young man - very close friend of our family - is coming to spend the weekend with us. He is currently living far away from his own home and family (in a different country). He has developed a very serious eating disorder - eating less than a toddler, and has lost so much weight that, in recent photos, he is skeletal in appearance, and looks like someone in the last stages of life. I am told that in the last 2 weeks he has started to eat more.

I want to persuade him to leave his current job, return to the UK and concentrate on his health. And I also want to help him start to enjoy food more.

Other friends and his own family say that we should all let him try to get over this by himself, and just be available to listen. I am sure that would work if we or other friends had more time with him. But he won't be seeing any other friends or family for the next week or two, and in that time he could deteriorate even more or simply collapse. Should I get him to see a doctor while he is with us? Should I try hard to persuade him to go home for treatment? Should I just keep offering regular fairly small amounts of good food? We are all (his friends and family) spending sleepless nights worrying, but as he is at a distance, none of us is actually doing anything.

MaryBethF Fri 22-Jun-12 10:26:11

Here's my heart-felt view:
This won't be an easy visit because there's a very thin elephant in the room. It's good that you are thinking about it before-hand.
Keep beautiful food around; cook things that smell wonderful. Treat him as an honoured and beloved family guest - but don't expect him to be persuaded to eat. People don't change in a moment. The impact of his visit with you will happen afterwards.
Be clear that you are worried, and let him know that he's welcome to talk to you. And be prepared for awkward silences, unanswered questions and such. Let love rule your words and actions.
Communicate carefully with his family/friends after his visit.
If you or someone can make a clear path for him to come home (give him a plane ticket, offer him a room to stay in, guarantee access to appropriate medical care), that might be the best way to communicate how deep your concern is.

I hope the visit goes well and the young man turns back towards health.

kphr Sun 24-Jun-12 09:07:28

Thanks. The weekend did happen more or less as you predict here. He actually seemed slightly better than I had feared, and not on his last legs, although terribly underweight. He was tired, but he seemed his usual self, and that was a relief, and a pleasure. I felt that the eating dominated because it was always on my mind. I managed to talk to him about it and he knew it was a problem, and thought it would be a help to see a nutritionist. I also tried to say there would be nothing wrong at all with seeing a counsellor. He was eating tiny amounts, with very little carbohydrate, and it was clearly an effort for him to eat. I'm hoping that, as you say, the impact (if any) of his visit here will happen later. Thank you

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