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How To Help A Bulimic

Dear Sugar,
I think that my cousin's wife is bulimic. She leaves the table (out or at home) between each course during meals and claims that she has a small bladder. She is tall, beautiful and very, very skinny; frail-like skinny. She also eats at least twice as much as everyone else.

Her hair is thinning and her teeth are kind of bumpy and yellowish. The signs are all there, but I don't want to accuse her of something just yet. It's not like I want to catch her in the act either, I just want her to get help.

I've tried talking to her husband about it, but he's not completely convinced that it's bulimia. What do you think I should do? If she continues to lose weight she will look dangerously thin. Concerned Cousin

To see DEARSUGAR's answer

Dear Concerned Cousin
You did the right thing by talking to her husband about it. Perhaps he just feels that she has always been thin and does in fact have a small bladder. At least you've made him aware that there could be a whole lot more to it.

I would definitely try following her to the bathroom a few times to see what's going on in there before you have any kind of talk with her. Check her feet to see if they are pointing forward or backwards in the stall. Then watch to see if she washes off her hands and her mouth when she exits.

Keep in mind that as someone who is not suffering from an eating disorder yourself, there are many things you cannot do to help her get healthy. You cannot prevent a bulimic from purging and usually the problem really isn't about the food, it's about something bigger. The eating is just a result of deeper emotional pain she is most likely suffering. Eating disorders are attempts to escape, control or hide this self-hatred or pain and is something that has probably been building for years.

Before talking to her, I suggest you find some kind of local outreach for her. Collect the number of a psychologist, a clinic or even a hot line that she can call anonymously. Ultimately, there is not a whole lot that you can do for her until she is ready to deal with her emotions and acknowledge that she needs/wants to take steps toward recovery.

I would let her know that you just want her to be happy and to get better. Remind her of the physical damages and further emotional difficulties associated with eating disorders. Also, let her know that you will not discuss this private matter with anyone. It is important for her to be able to open up to you and to feel safe sharing her private and fragile feelings with you. This is not going to be an easy or a quick fix. Good luck.

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rcc328 rcc328 9 years
there are a lot of great resources for eating disorders now a days, for general information: somethingfishy.org and for information on treatment a helpful number is 1800-renfrew they can send you out information on treatment with one of their centers or even suggest treatment places located near your cousin and his wife. A lot of time people with eating disorders don't realize that even though they are purging what they eat they still intake about a third of the calories since their body begins to break down the food. It's important that she realizes how purging can hurt her health, her heart especially. Each time a person throws up, a body becomes depleted of the necessary acids and electrolytes which are very important for the heart to function properly. So as her purging increases, the more damage that is being done. Eating disorders are a long road, and many patients are always in recovery and fighting urges and body image issues.Hopefully she realizes this is a problem and decides to get proper help for this problem. I hope this was helpful.
H0T-Tamale H0T-Tamale 10 years
??????
la_clique la_clique 10 years
Thanks! It's hard to come in at the end of the post with some important pieces missing.
ohsuri ohsuri 10 years
Oh... thanks!!
kidcrazy2 kidcrazy2 10 years
ohsuri and laclique, someone posted an extremely offensive post earlier in this thread concerning bulimia. The post has since been removed.
ohsuri ohsuri 10 years
Must have been bad!! Oh well, maybe better we did miss it! LOL
la_clique la_clique 10 years
Oh well, I guess we just missed it...Maybe next time.
ohsuri ohsuri 10 years
I am still trying to figure that out laclique..lol
la_clique la_clique 10 years
What did we miss? Mean eating disorder comments?
ohsuri ohsuri 10 years
What happened?
Toronado Toronado 10 years
Good. I kinda figured that idiot's (whose name of course I mentioned in my first comment) completely despicable comment would be removed. That's all I'll say about the matter.
honeysugar28 honeysugar28 10 years
I'm surprised Teamsugar's posting this picture of a girl making herself vomit. They usually flag people for less than this!
honeysugar28 honeysugar28 10 years
something's definetly wrong with this post.
ohsuri ohsuri 10 years
What is going on? Did I miss something?
babywhopper babywhopper 10 years
Is it me - or is the blog blown up - my posts are freaking out
babywhopper babywhopper 10 years
WOW the li command freaked out >>> HA!
babywhopper babywhopper 10 years
You go Bruno. You must at least get the *skinny (no pun intended) on the situation. You don't have to confront her yourself, there are ways around that Follow her. Find out for sure. Google it. Be informed. If it is true, ask a doctor for advice. Or even call her doctor. Go see her priest / pastor. There are ways to make it aware that she CAN get help. Leave a pamplet on the subject out for her to find. There will be a telephone help on it line she can call. Heck call it yourSELF and ask questions! Ask "May I go with you" the next time she goes when you are out, Saying "I need to go too". This won't exactly prove anything - but pay attention to her reaction, hesitation, facial - anything odd. She may excuse herself again, if so, follow her. Do something. My wife has Anorexia. Eating disorders are a very serious thing. It kills people everyday. We are here to help people - ANY subject ANY time. You need to find out.
DesignRchic DesignRchic 10 years
Yea BRUNO!!!!
t0xxic t0xxic 10 years
woot woot on the the real advice!
jennifer76 jennifer76 10 years
Yaay Bruno ate the bad stuff. Way to go Bruno.
azucar_maddy azucar_maddy 10 years
I like Bruno's pink collar
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