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I suspect my friend is bulimic and want to approach her about it...

(14 Posts)
DollyDa Wed 01-Jun-16 19:53:16

Posting here for traffic and help?!? I have a friend who I am very worried about. She has always been a bit anxious and self conscious and has over the past six months become increasingly obsessed with her weight. Now due to some personal family reasons I know what bulimia looks like and she is demonstrating a lot of the behaviours. She is not tiny or really very thin but has been losing weight. However she will be really controlled about what she eats, denies herself basic foods/ meals and then will completely binge. After a binge she will inevitably drink a lot of water and then disappear to the bathroom. She regularly eats with us and will insist on using the bathroom at the other end of the house rather than the closer one. She will always flush the toilet twice. she will come back and her eyes look watery and her face looks flushed, she will then be really funny about kissing us goodbye etc and you can smell that sicky smell on her breath. Her face and skin are looking pale, and she looks unwell. When we went out for a meal recently she brought along a bottle of mouth wash. These are all relatively new behaviours. She has a history of anxiety type behaviours and this has come out previously in self harm... I am really worried about her but know if I try to broach this head on she will withdraw and I want to support her... Maybe I am wrong but I've saw these behaviours play out for years in someone else and sure I am right. Any ideas how I can help her or broach this without pushing her further?

Mouikey Wed 01-Jun-16 20:00:47

Be really careful as your concern and love for her could backfire. This is serious stuff, if you can, why not get some advice from your Dr or a helpline who could give some pointers as to how approach the situation. Going in and confronting her will only add to her anxiety so you need to tread very very carefully.
Good luck x

DollyDa Wed 01-Jun-16 20:08:33

Thanks - we do have the same dr's so maybe talking to them could be a start... however that feels like I am going behind her back a bit - but honestly wouldn't know where else to turn. She hasn't got any close family I could talk to, her mum is a nightmare and really wouldn't be supportive.

greatscott81 Wed 01-Jun-16 20:19:17

As someone who has battled bulimia for years, I hope I can offer some advice here. I had friends who tried in various ways to help me, and I welcomed it with open arms - the affirmation that someone cared that much about me really inspired me to get well (I will admit it didn't always work but that's to do with the failure of the NHS). You are obviously a very caring and good friend and I would speak to her about it, be discreet and patient and she will hopefully open up to you. She may not be ready to seek help, but let her know you are there for her and that you will go with her to see the Dr if she would like that. Obviously everyone's journey through this is different, but it DOES help knowing you have someone thinking of you and trying to protect you. Really hope she gets well xx

brodchengretchen Wed 01-Jun-16 20:21:08

As with other hidden behaviours, a BN sufferer will deny if confronted and your relationship will be affected. The decision to seek help and come out of the addiction must come from the person otherwise there is little to underpin the motivation to make a change. The reasons the person had developed the condition may go back to early life experience amongst other things, therefore a psychological approach is generally used as part of therapy. It can be a very long process, and may also fail one or more times.

Your friend does not enjoy what is happening and continuing friendships/relationships are important if she is not to isolate herself. Even so, it's a very serious condition - physically and psychologically damaging (you may notice sores on her dominant hand and damage to her teeth, sometimes a swollen abdomen and symptoms of dehydration as well as what you have already noticed ).

If possible, I think you need to involve her family/partner to open a dialogue with her where she doesn't feel judged or demeaned. Gently explain your concern and put forward some solutions in the form of handouts for instance. There may be an eating disorder unit in her area or other options that are accessible. It will be a long and difficult journey for her, and your support and staying power will help her a great deal.

I wish everyone concerned well. There is hope. You may PM me, OP.

ProteusRising Wed 01-Jun-16 20:23:31

I have struggled with bulimia and anorexia for over 20 years. I would absolutely hate someone interfering, commenting or contacting my family about it. I'll post in more detail later when I'm at home.

DollyDa Wed 01-Jun-16 20:29:14

I genuinely don't think there is anyone else in her life who knows her well enough to notice this. She doesn't have a partner (part of her thing about losing weight is in an effort to 'find love'), her father passed away and her mother is controlling and not great. Friend supports her mum a lot. she has some other friends but spends a lot of time with us and our dc's. She is Aunty xxx to dc's and brilliant with them. I would never want to push her out of this but really struggling watching this unfold and doing nothing...

brodchengretchen Wed 01-Jun-16 20:33:22

I agree doing nothing will not help your friend, otherwise you will simply be watching her health deteriorate. Proteus is right, outside intervention (aka interference in self-destructive behaviour) may be resented at first, but if you can work through that and show you are a true friend, a rock, there is much you can do to support her in seeking help IME.

Heatherplant Wed 01-Jun-16 20:37:39

It's a really difficult one because if you are correct then the only way things will move forward is if your friend admits there is a problem and seeks help of her own accord. Only advice would be to carry on being supportive of her as you are doing.

brodchengretchen Wed 01-Jun-16 20:39:20

of her own accord - this almost never happens.

DollyDa Thu 02-Jun-16 19:36:34

I had a chat with her today about being concerned that how she was losing weight - i.e. starving then binge eating and suggested I was worried this wasn't sustainable and maybe not the most healthy thing (didn't mention my other concerns). As I want to shift a bit I then suggested we joined slimming world together to do it in a healthy way. She did say she was becoming a little obsessed with it and maybe wasn't doing things as healthily as she could. I didn't push it at all and left it there but maybe having an alternative focus will help her focus or open up...

brodchengretchen Fri 03-Jun-16 08:25:42

I think that was well done, DollyDa. Agreeing that she has an obsession and could eat more healthily is a step forward, and you were also wise not to push it any further at this early stage. It is clear your friend trusts you and that bodes well for the future. I wish you success in what lies ahead. smile

MrsJayy Fri 03-Jun-16 08:34:03

An old friend/neighbour has an eating disorder i tried to help her it wasnt welcomed i had to leave it and just carry on being her friend there is no point trying to help somebody who wont be helped you can say to your friend you are concerned about her eating and maybe she should see a Dr but apart from that what else can you do it is worrying though. I met my neighbour in the street a few months back she has moved back to the area she was skin and bone but i had to just ignore it but i was shocked how ill she looked sad

manicinsomniac Fri 03-Jun-16 08:57:13

I also have anorexia and, although I don't resent friends who try to help as I know they care, it is quite awkward. It sounds like to handled it well though and, to be honest, it also sounds like she is being ridiculously obvious about the purging so is perhaps crying out for help? I don't see how anybody could miss the signs you describe.

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