Eating Disorder Hope is running a thoughtful article, "Anorexia and Friendship: How Do I Help My Friend?." I'm often asked this question by teens but also by adults including family members.
While I like the content of the article I have to add this missing and what I consider a vital piece of the answer.
An important aspect of being a friend to someone who has anorexia is to be consistent in your own healthy self care. Yes, you support your friend. But you do not support the illness. So you eat nourishing food in adequate amounts on your own and when you are with her.
You don't adjust your eating, sleeping, drinking, exercise or social routines that are healthy in order to make her feel more comfortable. Let her join you in health. Don't join her or cater to her illness.
The best thing you can do is love her, to be sure, while simultaneously being an example of health and healthy living yourself. Leave the therapy to her therapist. Leave her medical issues to her medical doctor.
Invite your friend to join you in healthy social activities and, if she can't attend because of her illness, you still go. You are showing her that there is a world beyond anorexia and she can be part of it and be with her friend - you - out in that healthy world.
Be an example of self love, self care and vibrant health, and don't compromise that out of some sense of obligation to your friend.
Honor and love her. Do not support or get pulled into the symptoms of her illness. Have the courage and honesty to be and stay healthy yourself. It's a gift to yourself and to her. After all, what could be better than knowing someone you love is taking good care of herself? Don't we want that for everyone we love?
- Have you or do you now love someone with an eating disorder?
- What are the challenges?
- How do you support her?
- How do you be her friend?
- What kind of help and support do you need when you have a friend with an eating disorder?
- What advice would you give someone in this situation, based on your experience?