Eating Disorder

Discussion in 'Women's Issues' started by Philly05, Feb 2, 2008.

  1. Philly05

    Philly05 Member

    Joined:
    Aug 17, 2005
    Messages:
    66
    Likes Received:
    1
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Philadelphia, PA
    I have a female friend of mine who goes through bouts of not eating and her weight fluctuates from 100-110 pounds. I only see her on rare occasions and I am able to talk her into eating and to be more positive on her self image but when she slips back, Im usually not available to help her in person. I believe most of it comes from problems with her father and boyfriend. Any ladies had similar problems and can give me advice to share with her? She is very comfortable talking with me but I have run out of ideas to help her.
     
  2. JustAsking

    Gold Member

    Joined:
    Nov 23, 2004
    Messages:
    3,249
    Likes Received:
    3
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Ohio
    Philly05,
    I realize you were looking for a woman's advice, but I also have a friend with ED. She is a really wonderful, intelligent, charming person, who thinks she is a pile of dogshit.

    What I discovered over the years is that the psychology behind ED is more complex than anything I have ever seen (and I studied physics in college.) So the best thing you can do is realize that your ability to help her as a friend is somewhat limited compared to what really professional counseling can do. And if you are "the one" she confides in, then you should use that relationship to help her see that she needs that.

    The tricky part is that ED seems to be rooted in deep shame. In my friend's case it came from a history of sexual abuse on the part of her stepfather when she was a teenager. However, studies show that the relationship between a daughter and her father is so important that all it takes in some cases is for the father just to be emotionally distant for ED to occur later on.

    Because of the deep shame it almost defies criticism since anything negatively judgemental that you say or do will work against your purpose and cause more damage. Since my friend is beautiful, no one ever seemed to treat her as the brilliant person she is. Since I saw this easily, she and I became great philosopher friends. We talked about alll kinds of things and over the years she began to see herself as I did, which is an amazingly brilliant person. This was really affirming to her and helped a great deal for her to find at least some footing in objectivity and understand the magnitude of what her feelings of shame and self-loathing was doing to destroy her.

    When she brought the subject of ED up, I would talk with her about it readily, but I would avoid judgement on her particular behavior. I never made any comments about her weight or her appearance positive or negative. But I would often talk with her about ED in the abstract, and how it causes people to have a very distorted body image. So by not being judgemental, she trusted the conversations we had, and I was able to obliquely convince her that her body image was distorted. Finally, she began to see that she really needed counseling and went for it. It is a kind of paradox that a person with shame driven ED is negatively affected by criticism, but you have to somehow get them to realize that there is something wrong.

    You probably know how easy it is for your ego to be flattered by knowing that you are the one confidant that someone else trusts and relies on. The problem with that is that you can't allow yourself to love that more than you love the person. You have to realize that the only real help you can be to her is to get her to counseling any way you can, because ED is so far beyond any of us laymen to really help. If you fall in love too much with being the "trusted one", and think that you will be her one and only savior, you will be doing her great harm and being very irresponsible. But you can play a role by being that one unconditional true friend that sticks by her no matter what. As such, I constantly reminded myself that I would gladly sacrifice the friendship if it got her to the help she needed. That way, I was not afraid to say things that she needed to hear at the risk of the friendship.

    My friend is also an alcholic and suicidal. In a way, the alcoholism was part of her salvation, because she ended up in AA which has an approach that was also good for her other problems. From the help she got in AA, she was able to give up the rigid control she tried to have over her life and give herself over to different kinds of help. The success of AA is partly due to the fact that it also seems to understand how to deal with shame, and the fighting alcholism is an indirect kind of thing that is counterintuitive. It is a primitive form of the counseling she needed for ED, so it helped convince her that she needed professional help for the ED.

    Anyway, I don't think I could possibly convey all of the complexity of this by writing in a forum. ED is fierce and tenacious and the most complex thing you will ever get to understand if you understand it at all. Use your trusted position with her for her good and not as a way to feel good about yourself. Good luck with your friend.
     
  3. D_Hyacinth Harrytwat

    D_Hyacinth Harrytwat Account Disabled

    Joined:
    Jan 3, 2008
    Messages:
    908
    Likes Received:
    0
    Wow amazing response JustAsking!

    I went through the whole ED thing after being raped, and it got to a point where I knew it was bad for me, but I couldn't stop because my body would just refuse to keep any food down. EDs are always deeper than just appearance issues; you're on the right track with her father/boyfriend thing, I bet.

    Good luck with it! It takes an awesome friend to notice and an incredible one to help out another who has an ED.
     
  4. Guy-jin

    Gold Member

    Joined:
    Oct 1, 2007
    Messages:
    3,835
    Albums:
    1
    Likes Received:
    669
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Planet Earth
    I had a long-term relationship with someone with an eating disorder. The problems are deep-seeded. It's a truly detrimental mental condition.

    As JustAsking said, I feel the only way to handle it is to convince her to get professional help.

    Unfortunately, the woman I was with who had an eating disorder would not admit that she had a problem, and therefore would not seek help. It was a very strange psychosis because she would say that she was once bulimic and discuss how her sister has severe anorexia, but when she wouldn't eat, or would get into a habit of binging followed by fasting, she would not be willing to associate it back to an eating disorder.

    If you're in a place to convince your friend to get professional help, that's the best thing you can do to help her, in my opinion.
     
  5. goodwood

    Gold Member

    Joined:
    Aug 18, 2005
    Messages:
    1,804
    Albums:
    1
    Likes Received:
    36
    Location:
    Dallas/Ft. Worth, Texas
    Just a thought which is intended to shed a bit more light on the subject -
    Eating disorders are complicated things which are seldom brought about as a result of weight issues, but rather are manifestations of being severely disrespected as a person. Hence the rape connection/abuse connection.
    They also tend to be accompanied by alchoholic/suicidal tendancies.
    I know this personally as having been anorexic with accompanying symptoms. I was not sexually abused, but physically and emotionally abused and disregarded. The effects are long lasting and very deep. An eating disorder seems to be the last result of a person being able to say "It is clear that I am not worth anything and if no one else who is important in my life thinks I am worth anything enough to care about who I am as a person then I will trump them and beat them to the punch and show them that I know that I am not worth anything before they can tell me again" and eating disorder ensues.
    Eating disorders were rampant amongst my peers both male and female alike. How they were masked was wide and varied. All I do know is that those of us who were so effected simply had no other 'acceptable' outlet to express our deeply hurting souls.
    I truly understand the pain your friend is going through and can only offer that an eating disorder is not about food and that it is about desperately needing to know that one is accepted, loved, understood and wanted. So anything you are able to talk about with your friend, any way you are able to connect with her and let her talk and LISTEN before you speak, please do it. Know that when in such a condition, physical contact while desperately wanted is usually a violently opposed form of contact. Eating disorders are of a severely deep emotional nature and trust is something that has been sought after and betrayed and takes time to exist in anyone.
    Thanks for making this post.
    - Chris
     
  6. Guy-jin

    Gold Member

    Joined:
    Oct 1, 2007
    Messages:
    3,835
    Albums:
    1
    Likes Received:
    669
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Planet Earth
    I have trouble agreeing with that. That may be how it seems to you, in your case, but it isn't the general rule at all.

    The honest truth is that many, many people who suffer from eating disorders are well loved, but still suffer from severe self-image and self-confidence problems.

    It isn't rational--people can love them and tell them how great they are repeatedly, but they will ignore it, disbelieve it, or simply forget it.

    For most, it is actually a control issue, having nothing to do with abuse.

    Most anorexics feel they have little or no control over their own lives, and end up seeing their control over eating as returning control of their lives to themselves.

    It is for this reason that telling an anorexic, "You should eat," is actually counter-productive. If someone tells them they should eat, they see it as someone trying to take control away from them, and it usually doesn't work.

    In the case of those people I've known with anorexia, the best self-therapy was to relieve stress and depression from their lives.

    However, professional help is really the only option to treat it. It's far too complex and irrational to those without the disorder to really understand without being a professional.
     
  7. Philly05

    Philly05 Member

    Joined:
    Aug 17, 2005
    Messages:
    66
    Likes Received:
    1
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Philadelphia, PA
    I'd like to thank all of you for your responses. I have never really dealt with this before. She has also had prior problems with alcohol. The good thing is that she admits to having a problem and wanting to deal with it, even admitting that there are likely psychological reasons for it. She has never admitted to being abused sexually or physically but she might not be willing to confide in anybody about that. I am going to try and convince her to seek a counselor at school, we have talked about it but she has been hesitant. Thank you all very much.
     
  8. Not_Punny

    Gold Member

    Joined:
    Jul 7, 2007
    Messages:
    5,542
    Albums:
    2
    Likes Received:
    1,203
    Gender:
    Female
    Location:
    California
    Great thread -- glad this came up.

    Guy-jin -- yes, some people with ED have been abused physically and/or emotionally (as per Goodwood). Others, as you point out, were well loved.

    I do not claim to know the statistics on this.

    But either way, from what I've read about it, it does come down to a control issue.

    = = = = = = = = = =

    PS: Thanks for the post, JustAsking.
     
  9. Guy-jin

    Gold Member

    Joined:
    Oct 1, 2007
    Messages:
    3,835
    Albums:
    1
    Likes Received:
    669
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Planet Earth
    It seems the abuse that leads to an eating disorder (for those that have abuse as a cause) is precisely the type of abuse that makes one feel he or she has lost control. For others, the triggers seem to range from stress in relationships or work to just plain old depression.

    But like we said, the bottom line is that it comes down to a control issue, and it something I and probably everyone else here is too uneducated to really recommend treatment for beyond getting psychological help.

    Philly05, I think the worst scenario is knowing someone with an eating disorder, but who is unable to admit that he or she has a problem and seek help. Your friend being able to admit to herself that she has the problem is a huge step in the right direction, so I'm very hopeful for her. Good luck.
     
  10. B_Mademoiselle Rouge

    Joined:
    Oct 17, 2007
    Messages:
    9,735
    Likes Received:
    26
    Location:
    Southern US
    I used to not eat much and fluctuate from 100 to 115 lbs. I had a lot of oral sensory food aversions. I still do. I had a small stomach from not eating much and i was used to being hungry. I didnt have a poor self image of myself. I didnt work our or count calories. I just didnt eat that much. Now that i have a child who suffers from severe oral sensory issues, i totally understand what a lot of my problems with food was.

    I had to go on steroids and when i put on like 40 lbs in a couple of months. My stomach was used to eating a lot more and now that i've lost 20 lbs of that excess weight, i realize i will never be a size 2 again. I enjoy food very much and have a healthy relationship with it.

    Theres a lot of reasons why your friend might not eat that much. But i think if shes not getting lower than 100lbs, shes probably ok. A fluctuation between 100-110lbs isnt like going from 120 to 87 lbs.

    I look at my old pics from when i was Skeletor and i can tell you that i truly believe people when they say i look much better now!
     
  11. w1llber

    w1llber New Member

    Joined:
    Feb 7, 2008
    Messages:
    43
    Likes Received:
    0
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    UK
    Glad i stumbled on this post, my gf seems to be having issues with food at the moment and can go days while only really eating a sandwich :eek:

    Its interesting that people have mentioned a conection with rape/abuse as she has recently spoke to me about an ex that sexually abused her for nearly a year. I never thought these two could be connected but i guess it makes sense, she definately feels alot of shame and is convinced it was her own fault :mad:

    She wont admit she has a problem whenever i mention it and just shrugs it off saying "im just not hungry" im getting pretty worried about her so not sure how to deal with it

    Oh and great post JustAsking :cool:
     
  12. Philly05

    Philly05 Member

    Joined:
    Aug 17, 2005
    Messages:
    66
    Likes Received:
    1
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Philadelphia, PA
    I would highly recommend a therapist or some type of counselor. I think your situation will likely be a lot harder than my GF. She has been to a counselor several times now and it is helping her a lot and she has went from eating 3 days a week to 3 times a day.
     
  13. holsty101

    holsty101 New Member

    Joined:
    Oct 24, 2006
    Messages:
    78
    Likes Received:
    1
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Seattle USA, sometimes UK
    My mum's spent the last 10 years slowly starving herself to death. At present she is still in complete denial. I hate her for what she's put herself (& us ) through.
     
Draft saved Draft deleted