I’m concerned about my really good friend. She deals with a lot of mental health problems like me and from that regard I feel like I can help her. However, she has an eating disorder and this isn’t something I know much about. She feels that she’s ugly and by not eating she feels that will make her beautiful. I tell her daily that she is already beautiful and that it’s important to eat but she doesn’t believe me. Like I said before, I don’t know much about eating disorders or how to help. It really bothers me to see her suffer like this and I want to help but I feel so incredibly powerless because nothing I say gets across to her. I’m very concerned about her and I don’t know how to help. I’m the only one that seems to take her mental health, and physical health for that matter, seriously and I feel like that puts a lot of pressure on me to help her but I just don’t know how to help.
Thanks so much for stepping in the trenches with your friend. One of our bloggers actually wrote about this last month, and I think the article is super helpful. You might find some good tidbits in here.
I know how frustrating and crazy-making it can be to believe something so wholeheartedly about someone and feel like nothing you do could get them to see it…powerless is definitely the perfect word to describe the feeling, as you mentioned…at its core, as you’ve identified, is a battle between her believing a lie about herself and you sharing the truth…when someone’s stuck in this place that your friend is in, she needs to be able to come to a realization that what she believes – that she isn’t beautiful and not eating is the only way to become beautiful – is a lie…it’s often helpful when she can dig through her story to identify where she first began believing that lie…often times it came from a parent or from being bullied or from a conclusion they developed as to why people didn’t love them…if she can get a greater understanding of her story, it might be able to help her realize that this thought is something that she LEARNED, and it’s not inherently true…and BECAUSE it’s something she learned, it’s also something she can UNLEARN…and that starts by calling it exactly what it is: a lie! When she comes to the realization that she’s believing a lie, you can continue to encourage her when she’s acting out of that lie to move towards the truth…and to help her come to understand what that truth is, that she feels comfortable being pivoted towards. This journey takes time, and it usually takes a community of support…so helping her find a recovery group or a church or a therapist would be helpful, because you can’t be the only person trying to encourage her towards healing and towards the truth. As an intermediate step, you can always invite her to this community, and we can be an extra voice with you as you help connect her to some in person help as well.
Thanks again for loving your friend and stepping into her story. I know it feels like a battle you’re losing, but the fact is: you’re in the arena…and that’s incredibly brave.