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You Asked: How Can I Help Her?

Dear Sugar--
My workmate/friend is severely bulimic. She has dropped 3 dress sizes in less than six months by throwing up every single meal. She will eat a cup of instant soup, calmly put it down and then openly go to the ladies room to vomit. Most of the workplace has heard her vomiting. She carries a stick in in the pocket of her overcoat as a 'tool'. She has also stated that she carries weights in her pockets when she is weighed by the doctor. She stopped talking to her sister 2 years ago when her sister mentioned that she felt Lara was too thin, and stopped talking to her mom, who she lives with, for 6 months for the same reason. She is losing her looks and has started staggering when she walks. She is the kind of person who will cut off anyone completely out of her life if they say anything - she would leave her job, never speak to her best friend or relative in an instant.

We are going on holiday together soon, and the trip was organized BEFORE I realized how ill she is. How do I help her without becoming one more person she can just stop talking to? -- Looking out Laurie

To see DEARSUGAR's answer

Dear Looking out Laurie --

Your friend sounds like she is severely ill and is in need of some serious professional help before she causes herself irreversible damage. Eating disorders are very serious illnesses that need to be treated just like any other disease.

I understand that you are afraid of her cutting you out of her life if you try to help her, but standing by and not saying anything isn't going to do her any good either. Talk to your friend in a safe environment and let her know how worried you are about her in a loving and supportive manner. Since she will no doubt act defensive, be sure she knows that you will be there for her no matter what.

Is your friend in any kind of therapy or does she confide in any family members or friends? Someone suffering from an eating disorder has to be ready to get treatment on their own unless they are clearly putting their life at risk - in which case someone must step in. From the way you are describing her daily routine, it sounds like she is unfortunately in that category. Hospitalization sounds like the best thing for her right now. Being a friend or relative of someone suffering from a severe eating disorder can make you have feelings of guilt, anxiety, and confusion, but know that no matter how hard you try, the decision is ultimately up to her, so feel good about being her friend and doing everything you can. The National Eating Disorders Association and The Aware Foundation are great resources for asking questions and 24 hour hot lines for both sufferers of eating disorders and family and friends wanting to help.

As for your trip, you need to do whatever makes you feel comfortable. If vacationing with someone this sick is going to cause you more anxiety than fun, don't go. Eating disorders are manageable with a lot of hard work and a great support system, so at the end of the long road, your friend is going to be extremely grateful to have someone like you in her life. Good luck.


Stella2010 Stella2010 10 years
yeah, do waht erieindia said, instead of you going to that trip, take her to a trip to a rehab and leave her there. it doesnt matter if she'll hate you for it, but at least you save a friend's life.
Stella2010 Stella2010 10 years
the way she handles a friendly advice or any form of concern shown isnt good. if you try to talkto her, you know more than anyone now that it isnt gonna get you anywhere. i dont usually waste my time helping people who refused to be helped. good luck.
ErieIndiana ErieIndiana 10 years
A friend of mine was taken to a hospital in Colorado specifically for eating disorders. I don't remember the name of it but she is healthy now and I'm sure you can google the name of it. You might try researching places that your friend could go to. Present the information to her (in paper form or otherwise) so that if she cuts you out of her life you have still planted a seed. Learn the facts. Tell her that because she weighs so little she could literally die in the night because her heart rate is so low when she sleeps. That is a fact. If you have to scare her - do it.
princess_eab princess_eab 10 years
Bulimia sickens and kills people VERY quickly-- it's extremely deadly. She needs urgent care. She may hate you for it, but you have to try to save her life.
Masqueraded_Angel Masqueraded_Angel 10 years
Simply put, she will die very soon if she keeps this up. Schedule an intervention with family members and friends...find her tickets for the vacation and tell her that you aren't allowing her to take the vacation unless she gets some help first. Seriously...if she can't even walk properly these days, you think she could handle the altitude of a plane? Do whatever you have to do. She might not talk to you for a while, but don't even think about that...she needs help, regardless if she talks to you or not.
vanyvrgs vanyvrgs 10 years
INTERVENTION -- Now, call her parents, doctor, sister. Despending on your company you may have some Occupational Health/ Work Wellness programs that you should also anonymously call. Let them know she is withering away and set something up pronto. She can die....
cravinsugar cravinsugar 10 years
eating disorders are no joke. so, if any of you know me on here, you know i haev body image issues...i just found out it isn't jsut 88 year old great aunt needs surgery to make her better right now for something unrealted to weight...turns out she has been taking diet pills and is down to 98 pounds, and unless she can gain weight, she will die. I hope i can find a happy place with me and that i dont' progress into an eating disorder that bad. good luck laurie. you need to say something. regardless of what will happen. there was a woman walking around the building at my frist project who was so thin, you could literally see where her teeth were on her cheek.
amybdk amybdk 10 years
I'd cancel the trip. Good luck
candy-apple candy-apple 10 years
yep- i believe an intervention is in order. preferably with a professional who has experience with these types of patients and will know how to deal with her when she turns on everybody.
bigestivediscuit bigestivediscuit 10 years
It also seems that she is ASKING for help by making her illness openly known, i.e stating openly to carrying weights when going to the doctor and throwing up when she knows others can hear ... you might lose a friend - for a while, or maybe forever, who knows - but if you love her, you have to save her. She clearly needs an intervention.
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