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my best friend is bulimic.

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    So a few weeks ago i found out that my best friend is bulimic. I didnt find out because she told me but because one day i was looking through her messages and found her talking about it with someone else. It honestly hurt me that she couldnt come to me and tell me. Shes under so much pressure at the moment, one of her friends is bulimic as well which makes me feel like she may be following her. A close family member of hers died recently. And i am just worried that shes going to crumble to pieces. She tries to hold it all together but i just dont know what i can do to help. I feel so bad that i wasnt there for her when she needed me most. Im trying to make everything okay, but i dont know how else i can help her??
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    (Original post by rebeccaj_)
    So a few weeks ago i found out that my best friend is bulimic. I didnt find out because she told me but because one day i was looking through her messages and found her talking about it with someone else. It honestly hurt me that she couldnt come to me and tell me. Shes under so much pressure at the moment, one of her friends is bulimic as well which makes me feel like she may be following her. A close family member of hers died recently. And i am just worried that shes going to crumble to pieces. She tries to hold it all together but i just dont know what i can do to help. I feel so bad that i wasnt there for her when she needed me most. Im trying to make everything okay, but i dont know how else i can help her??
    Firstly, you shouldn't have gone through her messages. Those are her private messages and you shouldn't have invaded her privacy- I'm sure you've sent messages before that you wouldn't want anyone else to read.
    Anyway, that aside, when someone has bulimia, there tends to be huge amounts of shame, denial and secrecy attached to it. It's likely that you weren't told because she was embarrassed or afraid that it'd ruin the friendship. Telling someone you have an eating disorder isn't easily done, it takes a lot of courage. Chances are, she wasn't ready to talk to you about it yet.
    It's lovely that you care so much, she obviously has a great friend in you and is very lucky but what you need to realise is that you can't make it ok. Only she can make it ok and it takes a lot of time, hard work and many relapses. The only thing you can do is support her and that's a great thing to be able to offer. If she needs to talk about it, offer a listening ear. If she doesn't want to talk about it, don't push it. The road to recovery from an eating disorder is a very long one so don't expect it to be 'fixed' quickly, it can take years upon years upon years.
    The only thing you can do is offer nonjudgmental support. It doesn't seem like much, but believe me, it's a huge thing to someone who has an eating disorder.
    No matter how hard you push her or tell her to stop or try to intervene, it's up to her at the end of the day. You can't make someone stop because it's not that simple- the person themselves can't stop.

    This must be very stressful for you so make sure you're looking after yourself too. Take time out to relax and make sure you've got lots of me time. Don't drain yourself.
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    I know i shouldnt have gone through her messages but it just felt like she was eager for me to see them. I suppose it was easier for her to let me see what was going on rather than her having to admit it to herself by telling me.
    Thank you, its much appreciated. I am now know that i should happy that she had the courage to tell me about it. I just need to be there for her as much as i can. But what do i do about her friend who is bulimc too. She is at a much worse stage and is having very negative thoughts about herlself and life. I see her regularly but i dont think she knows that i know about it. Im just worried about her too. Well i suppose i cant really offer any more than support for both of them.
    You sound like a good person, sounds like you need to find someone to confide in too.
    (Original post by intermediary)
    Firstly, you shouldn't have gone through her messages. Those are her private messages and you shouldn't have invaded her privacy- I'm sure you've sent messages before that you wouldn't want anyone else to read.
    Anyway, that aside, when someone has bulimia, there tends to be huge amounts of shame, denial and secrecy attached to it. It's likely that you weren't told because she was embarrassed or afraid that it'd ruin the friendship. Telling someone you have an eating disorder isn't easily done, it takes a lot of courage. Chances are, she wasn't ready to talk to you about it yet.
    It's lovely that you care so much, she obviously has a great friend in you and is very lucky but what you need to realise is that you can't make it ok. Only she can make it ok and it takes a lot of time, hard work and many relapses. The only thing you can do is support her and that's a great thing to be able to offer. If she needs to talk about it, offer a listening ear. If she doesn't want to talk about it, don't push it. The road to recovery from an eating disorder is a very long one so don't expect it to be 'fixed' quickly, it can take years upon years upon years.
    The only thing you can do is offer nonjudgmental support. It doesn't seem like much, but believe me, it's a huge thing to someone who has an eating disorder.
    No matter how hard you push her or tell her to stop or try to intervene, it's up to her at the end of the day. You can't make someone stop because it's not that simple- the person themselves can't stop.

    This must be very stressful for you so make sure you're looking after yourself too. Take time out to relax and make sure you've got lots of me time. Don't drain yourself.
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    (Original post by rebeccaj_)
    I know i shouldnt have gone through her messages but it just felt like she was eager for me to see them. I suppose it was easier for her to let me see what was going on rather than her having to admit it to herself by telling me.
    Thank you, its much appreciated. I am now know that i should happy that she had the courage to tell me about it. I just need to be there for her as much as i can. But what do i do about her friend who is bulimc too. She is at a much worse stage and is having very negative thoughts about herlself and life. I see her regularly but i dont think she knows that i know about it. Im just worried about her too. Well i suppose i cant really offer any more than support for both of them.
    You sound like a good person, sounds like you need to find someone to confide in too.
    I'm not sure what made you think she wanted you to look through her messages (she might have, I don't know), but I don't think it's something you should do in future. Messages are personal and I'd be really upset if someone went through mine. But regardless, it's done now so no point in going over that anymore .

    You're clearly a very compassionate, kind and caring person and I know not being able to do anything makes you feel helpless. Unfortunately, you can't make either friend stop. Stress tends to make bulimia worse so any attempts to push someone into recovery will generally be counterproductive. Just being there for them and offering a safe space in which they can talk without receiving judgment is more than enough and a great service to both of them. You might want to send them a text just saying that you're always there if they need a chat.

    If they open up about bulimia and choose to talk about it, you might want to share these tips as, although purging is always bad, it's not going to stop people doing it so it's best to be as safe as possible. Check if they're drinking Powerade or coconut milk after purging as this restores electrolyte balance in the body (electrolyte imbalances are caused by purging and they can be very serious- it's why bulimia is linked to death). Also, if they purge anything which looks like ground black coffee (but isn't food), they need to get to a hospital right away as it's likely to be internal bleeding. If they purge bright red blood, it's generally not serious and is usually attributed to scratching the back of the throat. Using an 'instrument' (toothbrush etc) is more dangerous than hands as many people have choked on it. Never brush teeth after purging as this just rubs the stomach acid into the enamel- just mouthwash, then brush teeth much later.

    There's also a bracelet system that's helped quite a few people. The way it works is a person puts on, say, 1+ bracelets and they have to aim to have all bracelets off by the end of the day. Each bracelet equals one piece of food, or meal (whatever the person is comfortable with), that isn't purged. So, say she chooses to start with two bracelets, she needs to keep down two pieces of food without purging to end the day without the bracelets. She might have two bracelets for a week, then move on to three, and so on. The way this works is it helps a person to overcome the eating disorder voice. Bulimics generally find it difficult to reason with themselves when they want to purge and this bracelet system offers control, the same as purging. It makes not purging more justifiable as they know they need to have the two bracelets off at the end of the night to complete the 'task'. This can also work in reverse, with each bracelet equaling a purging session. So, if they usually purge 4 times a day, they should put on 3 bracelets and remove one each time they purge. Once they've removed the 3 in a day, they can't purge again until the next day. The number of bracelets slowly decreases until they're not purging at all (hopefully).

    You might also want to ask if they think it'd be beneficial to see someone, like a counsellor, to talk about their issues around food. Apart from that, and the couple of things listed above, you can't do anything that will 'fix' them. All you can do is offer support which is a huge help to anyone with an eating disorder. Remember to take time for yourself though, as I said in the first post. You sound very stressed. As much as I'm sure you love your best friend and care about the other friend, YOU need to come first.

    Aw thank you, that's very kind .
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    (Original post by intermediary)
    I'm not sure what made you think she wanted you to look through her messages (she might have, I don't know), but I don't think it's something you should do in future. Messages are personal and I'd be really upset if someone went through mine. But regardless, it's done now so no point in going over that anymore .

    You're clearly a very compassionate, kind and caring person and I know not being able to do anything makes you feel helpless. Unfortunately, you can't make either friend stop. Stress tends to make bulimia worse so any attempts to push someone into recovery will generally be counterproductive. Just being there for them and offering a safe space in which they can talk without receiving judgment is more than enough and a great service to both of them. You might want to send them a text just saying that you're always there if they need a chat.

    If they open up about bulimia and choose to talk about it, you might want to share these tips as, although purging is always bad, it's not going to stop people doing it so it's best to be as safe as possible. Check if they're drinking Powerade or coconut milk after purging as this restores electrolyte balance in the body (electrolyte imbalances are caused by purging and they can be very serious- it's why bulimia is linked to death). Also, if they purge anything which looks like ground black coffee (but isn't food), they need to get to a hospital right away as it's likely to be internal bleeding. If they purge bright red blood, it's generally not serious and is usually attributed to scratching the back of the throat. Using an 'instrument' (toothbrush etc) is more dangerous than hands as many people have choked on it. Never brush teeth after purging as this just rubs the stomach acid into the enamel- just mouthwash, then brush teeth much later.

    There's also a bracelet system that's helped quite a few people. The way it works is a person puts on, say, 1+ bracelets and they have to aim to have all bracelets off by the end of the day. Each bracelet equals one piece of food, or meal (whatever the person is comfortable with), that isn't purged. So, say she chooses to start with two bracelets, she needs to keep down two pieces of food without purging to end the day without the bracelets. She might have two bracelets for a week, then move on to three, and so on. The way this works is it helps a person to overcome the eating disorder voice. Bulimics generally find it difficult to reason with themselves when they want to purge and this bracelet system offers control, the same as purging. It makes not purging more justifiable as they know they need to have the two bracelets off at the end of the night to complete the 'task'. This can also work in reverse, with each bracelet equaling a purging session. So, if they usually purge 4 times a day, they should put on 3 bracelets and remove one each time they purge. Once they've removed the 3 in a day, they can't purge again until the next day. The number of bracelets slowly decreases until they're not purging at all (hopefully).

    You might also want to ask if they think it'd be beneficial to see someone, like a counsellor, to talk about their issues around food. Apart from that, and the couple of things listed above, you can't do anything that will 'fix' them. All you can do is offer support which is a huge help to anyone with an eating disorder. Remember to take time for yourself though, as I said in the first post. You sound very stressed. As much as I'm sure you love your best friend and care about the other friend, YOU need to come first.

    Aw thank you, that's very kind .
    thank you so much for all of your tips and help! its nice to just get it off my chest. theres nothing that i can do anymore. ive told her i will be there for her whenever she needs. and now i just need to focus on sorting myself out. i may try the idea of the bracelet thing, but im pretty sure she may be getting better and she just needs time. yeah shes currently seeing a counsellor and it seems to be helping. i just dont want her to get as bad as her friend. im sure everything will turn out okay.
    and sorry that you have spent so much time on this! but your messages are appreciated.
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    If she is already seeing a counsellor, she is already making steps to get better. As much as you want to help her, it is up to her to accept the help or not, so just let her know that you are there for her. Don't try and force her to talk about anything she doesn't want to, but be there to listen if she needs someone to talk to.

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