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Thank You For Being a Friend

Dear Sugar
My best friend is bulimic, I have known for quite a while, but her secret is now out and she blames me. We recently went on a camping trip with our senior class and she had some sort of a fit and couldn't breathe. I called the paramedics and when they came, they asked me all kinds of questions since I was the only one with her when this happened.

When they asked me if she makes herself sick, I couldn't lie so I told them that she is in fact, bulimic. The rumor mill went into effect and slowly but surely people began to find out. A few of our other friends knew about her throwing up before this incident, but now my best friend refuses to speak to me.

I thought I was doing the right thing by telling the doctors the truth about her sickness, but it looks like my honesty is coming back to haunt me. Do you have any advice for me on how to deal with her? I was only trying to help. Supportive Samantha

To see DEARSUGAR's answer

Dear Supportive Samantha
It sounds like your friend had an anxiety/panic attack which often times goes hand in hand with those who suffer from an eating disorder or depression. When someone experiences a panic attack for the first time, it can feel very similar to having a heart attack. It feels suffocating, and may trick you into thinking that you are dying, so you absolutely did the right thing by calling for help.

Eating disorders are very serious illnesses that need to be treated just like any other disease. I am sure your friend is embarrassed right now, but hopefully, she can use this experience as a jump-start to her long road ahead of recovery.

Talk to your friend. Let her know you care about her and you were only trying to help. It may feel like she is singling you out, but after she seeks treatment for her disorder, hopefully she will see how instrumental you were to get her back on the right track and will thank you for being her friend.

Join The Conversation
UrbanBohemian UrbanBohemian 10 years
I think you did do the right thing. You didn't want her to get sick, and maybe someday she'll realize that you did it because you care. It's too bad that the rumor mill has gotten you swept up into the tail end of it. You acted conscientiously and out of concern for her health. Bulimia's a scary illness because it skews a person's perception of him/herself. Hopefully your friend will come out of it and see that your intentions were good.
grl-in-the-world grl-in-the-world 10 years
You did the right thing, so please don't feel bad about what happened. Bulimia CAN cause real heart problems, so although it ended up she was just having a panic attack, it could have been much worse. The perimedics asked you those questions because of what they saw when they got to your friend, she is probably underweight, has thinning hair, thicker body hair and possibly other visisble symptoms, they needed your honest anwers to their questions in order to give her the best treatment. It's too bad that she knows people are gossiping about her now but realistically they were probably already gossiping behind her back before. I guess all you can say to her is that you were scared for her and did what you thought was right in the situation. Tell her you are there for her and if she wants to talk about anything you will always be there for her. If this is the end of your friendship then just know it is because she is going through a hard time right now and that it has nothing to do with you.
cgmaetc cgmaetc 10 years
I was a ballerina and anorexic by trade. I had some friends "betray" me and I was pissed at the time. But in hindsight, they did the right thing. Without their betrayal I might not have seen 30. You did the right thing. She might be mad now, but in the end, she'll thank you. -the ceeg
Pinkgirl88 Pinkgirl88 10 years
Bottom line - you did the right thing. Eventually she will see that. In fact getting it out there will help her recover hopefully. Encourage her to talk to a guidance counselor or family member. As someone who suffered from bulimia for ears I can tell you that there is so much shame involved. That is what is getting to her right now, once she gets past that hopefully she will thank you for what you did. TINA!
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