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Helping someone recover from an eating disorder...?

Discussion in 'Health and wellbeing' started by fantastischfish, Dec 13, 2011.

  1. fantastischfish

    fantastischfish Established commenter

    A good friend of mine yesterday finally admitted that she has a severe eating disorder and that she needs to get better. I'm so relieved that she finally talked to me and that she asked for my support (which, of course, she will always have).
    However, this friend is very distrusting of the medical profession for various 'reasons' and she does not want medical help, insisting that she can do it on her own. I'm not convinced and I personally think that she is not quite truly, fully committed to recovery if she won't seek medical help, but at least it's a step in the right direction.
    I know there are a few people on here who've had experience either personally or via a relative/friend, with eating disorders and I was wonderng if you could give me some advice.
    What is recommended when someone wants to try and eat again? Starting small and trying a little bit each day? Or going for it by forcing oneself to eat proper size portions and the recommmended number of meals?
    If my friend has really tried to eat, but feels like skipping a day because she's not completely ready to eat normally, is that a good tactic to try?
    What about if she says that the thought of food makes her feel physically sick and not hungry? Should she forced herself to eat something at meal times, no matter how small, because her body will be trained into thinking it's not hungry?
    I'm reluctant to take on the entire burden of support, because I think that a medical professional would obviously be able to help with the physcological side of thinks, but I'd like to have a basic idea about how things often work.
    Can anyone advise of share their experience of recovery (if that's not too personal a question...)
    Eva x x x
     
  2. fantastischfish

    fantastischfish Established commenter

    A good friend of mine yesterday finally admitted that she has a severe eating disorder and that she needs to get better. I'm so relieved that she finally talked to me and that she asked for my support (which, of course, she will always have).
    However, this friend is very distrusting of the medical profession for various 'reasons' and she does not want medical help, insisting that she can do it on her own. I'm not convinced and I personally think that she is not quite truly, fully committed to recovery if she won't seek medical help, but at least it's a step in the right direction.
    I know there are a few people on here who've had experience either personally or via a relative/friend, with eating disorders and I was wonderng if you could give me some advice.
    What is recommended when someone wants to try and eat again? Starting small and trying a little bit each day? Or going for it by forcing oneself to eat proper size portions and the recommmended number of meals?
    If my friend has really tried to eat, but feels like skipping a day because she's not completely ready to eat normally, is that a good tactic to try?
    What about if she says that the thought of food makes her feel physically sick and not hungry? Should she forced herself to eat something at meal times, no matter how small, because her body will be trained into thinking it's not hungry?
    I'm reluctant to take on the entire burden of support, because I think that a medical professional would obviously be able to help with the physcological side of thinks, but I'd like to have a basic idea about how things often work.
    Can anyone advise of share their experience of recovery (if that's not too personal a question...)
    Eva x x x
     
  3. ROSIEGIRL

    ROSIEGIRL Lead commenter

    Medical help is really important so please keep encouraging her to seek it out.
    As for how much to eat - frequent, small snacks would be safer. There's something called refeeding syndrome, which can happen when people start to eat after long periods of malnutrition - basically the body can't handle too much, too soon, too fast. She really should try and eat a little bit, even if/when she doesn't want to.
    Check out the B-eat website - for her and for yourself.
    <a> http://www.b-eat.co.uk/[/URL]
    I need to say again that medical help is crucial - the chances of her recovering by herself are pretty low. And it's a huge responsibilty for you. I'm glad she's got you to support her.
    Feel free to inbox me if I can help.

     
  4. fantastischfish

    fantastischfish Established commenter

    Thanks for your advice.
    I certainly will keep recommending medical help, because I agree it's the best course of action. At the moment, she seems to have a psychological reaction to food in that she feels sick and full at the sight of it. She chews food and cannot swallow it. I'm sure that this sort of barrier is not going to be broken down simply with an increased effort to eat.
    Thanks for the link too.
    Eva x x x
     
  5. Mrs_Frog

    Mrs_Frog New commenter

    Good luck with supporting your friend, she will need it.
    However, a severe eating disorder is a clinical condition, and does require clinical support in recovery. A close family member of mine went through a very traumatic time with bulimia many years ago, and it was an incredible strain on everyone involved.
    There are a huge number of issues that need to be dealt with by someone working to manage their eating disorder, and that is something that, dedicated you may be, are unlikely to be able to deal with (unless you are a trained professional in this area)
    Formal medical help via the GP is certainly preferable, but there are other agencies that can help. The chances are that she will need counselling, and although my family experience was handled by mental health services, there are other ways that she can get the help she is now able to ask for, such as self referral to private counselling.
    Good luck to all of you, but please remember, you will need support in supporting your friend, and there will be a great deal of issues that she needs to deal with, and you will have to ask her, and yourself, if you are really the best person to support her in the way that she clinically may need, despite all your support as a close friend.
    This may be harsh, and I really do not mean it to be, but if your friend had cancer and refused to get clinical help, what would the situation be then?
    As I said, good luck to all of you.
    B x

     

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