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My girlfriend is throwing up and I don't know how to be supportive


Frustrated08
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Sorry, i guess this is long but I don't know how to go forward with this.

 

Last night my girlfriend admitted to throwing up after meals. She says it isn't "always" and isn't "a disease", won't call it bulimia and gets really angry if I suggest that's what it is. It sounds like bulimia to me, but as I'm mostly ignorant about eating disorders I'm willing to concede that maybe it's something else. She's unhappy with how she looks, and whenever she eats enough to feel full she says she feels disgusting and needs to throw up. I don't know how long it's been going on, I know of at least two instances this weekend before she admitted it to me. She's also said it's happened in the past but quickly said it was a one-time thing.

 

I need help because I don't know how to be supportive. She's been upset with her body image for a while, and I've done everything I can think of to help her feel better. I tell her she's beautiful, I tell her I love her the way she is. And she does look good! I don't even feel like I'm seeing her through "boyfriend eyes", I am honestly attracted to her the way she is and tell her so. I've suggested dieting together or exercising together, but she refuses because she would not be able to handle comparing her and my progress. She has taken up kickboxing by herself since around October of last year, but only wants to think of it as a fun thing, not a fitness thing. She's also apparently had a personal trainer since January, but I don't know many details about that because it's another thing she only admitted to me yesterday.

 

I'm the only person that knows about her throwing up. We've both recently moved to a new state (we are living together) and don't have too many local friends yet, so I'm her only emotional support. She refuses to go to counseling. I've read about how dangerous this can be and feel like I need to do my best to get her to stop. I feel like I need to be the "bad guy" and be honest with her about this, and tell her how dangerous this is; she says that she already knows the dangers but still doesn't consider this "bulimia", that she can stop whenever she wants to (which she has admitted will be when she no longer feels fat). I left a page open on my computer with the dangers of bulimia hoping she would see it and she became furious with me saying that I should be caring and supportive instead of lecturing her like a parent. I want to be caring and supportive, but I feel like that means she expects me to look the other way and not make her feel guilty about this. I feel like I need to be the voice of reason and not sugarcoat what could be very dangerous to her if it isn't stopped.

 

She's furious with me right now, feeling like I attacked her about something I know nothing about. It's very possible I was harsh about it, but it felt like anything less would just be accepting that this goes on. I know she's smarter than this, but I don't know how to help her without being firm. We've been together for four years and have lived together for two, she's ready to move out and end the relationship over this. What can I do?

 

/also sorry for the double post, I hit enter before I was finished...

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She needs help, however, the first step is admitting she has a problem and that she wants to end this ADDICTION.

 

Eating disorders warp and twist the inflicted's thoughts, feelings and behavior. She may feel attacked, but that is the eating disorder that is acting out, because she has been found out, she has told the secret. She's very brave for telling you - now you need to be brave and stand up to this disease and help her see she needs help, no matter what.

 

Even if she breaks up with you, I'm sure she is feeling extremely confused right now and very muddled up - like most do with eating disorders.

 

Keep trying and keep learning, the more information you have, the more you will know how to handle this.

 

You're a good boyfriend/friend to her, she's lucky.

 

Goodluck, and remember; it's not her fault...

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This sounds like bulemia to me. The secrecy, the denial, and unhappiness with body image are all key symptoms of a serious eating disorder.

 

You can't just look away and pretend it isn't happening. She may want you to do this, but you cannot. On the other hand, you can't force her to get help for something if she simply doesn't want to do it. So you are somewhat limited in what you can do. All you can do is suggest, encourage, and recommend.

 

One last option is to try to insist, but it might end the relationship. Only you can decide if that's something you can handle. If she refuses to get help, sometimes that's the only way. Issue an ultimatum and be prepared for a no answer from her. Then you'll have to walk away. Truthfully she's at the point where she is not capable of a healthy relationship with you. The eating disorder has to be addressed as well as the issues underneath it which contribute.

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Okay I feel as though I can shed some light on this.

 

For a period of time I began to do the same thing as your girlfriend. If I ate too much, I would feel like a pig and throw up. If I was feeling depressed or anxious, I would go and throw up. It became something of an addiction. A lot of people find it hard to understand because they think its gross or they hate the feeling of being sick. But it gives you a sense of control and it used to make me feel a wave of euphoria afterwards I would feel lightheaded and I got addicted to that feeling.

 

I actually told my boyfriend (recently now my ex). I think it made him sad. He said to me if I ever do it again and he finds out he would be disappointed, that he loved me and didnt want to see me hurt myself. I got angry too but at the same time I appreciated it.

 

I carried on in secret, but over time became less and less, everytime I got the urge to do it I would picture his disappointment and it made me stronger. But instead I started restricting my food intake because I got scared I would be tempted to throw up.

 

I was very insecure about my weight (which is very much average) and I still have a lot of problems. I refused to admit to anyone I was bulimic, but I knew in secret that I had an eating disorder.

 

The worst possible thing you can do at this time is nag or have a go at her for it, it wont help and will probably push her away. Instead treat her lovingly, pay her lots of attention (dont mention the throwing up). Tell her more than usual how good she looks and how pretty she is. When she points out skinny celebrities (if she does this), even if you think they are hot, tell her that you prefer more curves. My ex used to express his disgust at skinny people and in a weird way it sort of helped, although not massively.

 

If this gets worse and you feel it is becoming too much to cope with, you need to try and encourage her to get help. She might not like it, but hopefully one day she will thank you and realise that its just out of love.

 

Hoever much she denies it to you, she knows she has a problem believe me. She knows its not normal. But it is dangerously addictive, and can give you long term health problems.

 

Tough love works if all else fails, but only do this if you have to because it might push her away if her problem is severe.

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This def sounds like bulimia. Try to be there for her and tackfully continue to remind her how unhealthy this is. These are just suggestions, but maybe you can suggest watching a movie one night and put in something that pertains to bulimia. I know Lifetime (I know, men hate that station) had a movie about it. Then have a calm discussion about it after?

If worse comes to worse, maybe you should inform her parents. If shes willing to end the relationship over this, at least her parents can take up on the issue if she decides not to talk to you anymore. (which I really hope doesnt happen)

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Thanks everyone for your responses.

 

She's since e-mailed me stating that she's planning on moving out based on how I made her feel last night, along with a similarly-worded post of hers on a different forum like this one.

 

I told her I was sorry if I had crossed the line, but I'm the only one who knows about this and felt she deserved some honesty. I said I hoped we could discuss it later when we're both home, but she can be stubborn and I don't know if she'll even be there. I can even try to not nag her about it but it's such a big topic now I can't imagine it not coming up soon.

 

I appreciate all of your responses, because it helps me feel better that I'm still doing the right thing, even if I have to withstand her hatred for a little while. I'm still worried about giving her an ultimatum, I feel like if I'm gone there's even less stopping her for hurting herself more.

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Well if thats the way she wants to play it then fine. Don't be manipulated into pretending this problem doesn't exist just because she plays this card. It will only hurt both of you. This is a problem she will have to deal with at some point or another.

 

Tell her you'll be there for her and stand by her when she's ready to seek help. Leave that door open and perhaps she'll start talking a bit.

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I can relate to what you're going through, it's incredibly hard to help someone who has an eating disorder, but you did the right thing. Tell her that you're doing this because you love her and want her to be healthy. She' s probably feeling ashamed and guilty and cannot face the truth and the severity of her eating disorder, that's why she wants to leave. Be supportive and make her understand that there's nothing to be ashamed of. Whether she throws up regularly or not, SHE NEEDS HELP! Eating disorders are mental illnesses. She may look fine on the outside but the eating disorder lives in her mind, it's in her thoughts and feelings.

 

I hope she can accept your help, she's so lucky to have you in her life.

 

Let us know how she takes it.

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avman, In eating disorders, you don't choose to play it as anything. It isn't a game. It's a disease. A very serious, complex, misunderstood disease. One that can and will kill you.

 

Frustrated, just be there for your girlfriend. That's all you can do. Don't take the place as a professional. Just simply be there for her, and love her. Express your concerns. Do not blame her for her eating disorder. Use "I" statements, ie; "I feel worried about you because I am worried for your health and well being", express your feelings and concerns, but don't push them on her, and don't push her to get help, she'll resist as you'll have saw already.

 

I think the more you understand this disease, the better you will be able to handle it. I know when my dad understood more about my anorexia/bulimia, he understood a lot better and could handle it so much better. It most likely reduces stress levels too. I'd recommend though, taking care of yourself. Don't let the eating disorder destroy you, too. Try and relax. The door will always be open for her, just let her find the strength first. It's an incredibly huge, hard first step - admitting their is a problem and doing something about it...

 

Goodluck, please do keep us posted...

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avman, In eating disorders, you don't choose to play it as anything. It isn't a game. It's a disease. A very serious, complex, misunderstood disease. One that can and will kill you.

 

Yes sarey I understand that all too well. My brother's first wife had it and ultimately killed herself. But I also know that until she herself decided she wanted to seek some help that all my brother's efforts were in vain. She had to see for herself that this was something she wanted to fight. Unfortunately she waited too long. The mental and physical damage done were simply too great.

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Then you'll also understand it is not a choice. Sometimes, people are too deep in eating disorders to see reality. They are deluded. They are extremely self destructive and think everyone is lying to them - therefore they close themselves off and push them away - so then... they will be alone with their illness - which promises glory, happiness, control (all BS, first hand experience, currently trying to fight back).

 

So, to be honest, it's a bit hard to choose to fight back from something you really do believe 100%... something you are CONTROLLED by... something that can and will destroy every aspect, every fibre of your life and yourself... take you away from yourself... the eating disorder is the leading killer of mental health illnesses, and if you are so deep in one, you can't see at all straight enough to make any logical decision...

 

Sometimes, like your brothers first wife, it is too late.

 

Statistics show 1/5 will die. It's devistating yet seriously misunderstood.

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It is not a choice to have the disease, I agree. But it does have to be a choice to decide to get help for it. Outside forces cannot MAKE a person get help or automatically force them to get better. This is why I told him to leave the door open for her when she wants the help. But I will not advise him to fall into the trap of being manipulated and controlled by this along with her.

 

My brother fell into that trap for years and it destroyed his self-esteem and happiness. He allowed his wife to blame him for the disease and for everything that went wrong in her life. He went along with her in ignoring there was a problem, backing off when she threatened him, accepting the blame when she unleashed it at him. So ultimately at the end he was just as sick as she was. I will not advise that for this poster.

 

Be compassionate yes but be firm. Have your boundaries and stick to them. You cannot offer help if you become ill along with her. You must remain healthy in order to be rational. The disease is controlling her but you must not let it control you as well.

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It is not a choice to have the disease, I agree. But it does have to be a choice to decide to get help for it. Outside forces cannot MAKE a person get help or automatically force them to get better. This is why I told him to leave the door open for her when she wants the help. But I will not advise him to fall into the trap of being manipulated and controlled by this along with her.

 

My brother fell into that trap for years and it destroyed his self-esteem and happiness. He allowed his wife to blame him for the disease and for everything that went wrong in her life. He went along with her in ignoring there was a problem, backing off when she threatened him, accepting the blame when she unleashed it at him. So ultimately at the end he was just as sick as she was. I will not advise that for this poster.

 

Be compassionate yes but be firm. Have your boundaries and stick to them. You cannot offer help if you become ill along with her. You must remain healthy in order to be rational. The disease is controlling her but you must not let it control you as well.

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No, the eating disorder is playing that game. Not her. I highly doubt before she had an eating disorder she was like this. As I've said time and time again, the eating disorder changes someones WHOLE life.

 

This includes their personality.

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No, the eating disorder is playing that game. Not her. I highly doubt before she had an eating disorder she was like this. As I've said time and time again, the eating disorder changes someones WHOLE life.

 

This includes their personality.

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As I said though sarey, it is still a manipulative tactic regardless of the cause. It is something a healthy person should not fall for or get sucked into. I would make the same recommendation if his girlfriend was an alcoholic or a meth addict.

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As I said though sarey, it is still a manipulative tactic regardless of the cause. It is something a healthy person should not fall for or get sucked into. I would make the same recommendation if his girlfriend was an alcoholic or a meth addict.

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I'm not saying it isn't goddamn manipulation, I'm just saying it is not her fault, people should at least have some understanding of how severe and complex and deliberating this disease is, yet they fail to. This world is seriously screwed up. People need more understanding on this disease, people need to know just how serious it is, people need to know that what the inflicted does is not their fault, what they are going through is one of the toughest battles they'll face in life. Yet people show no appreciation nor understanding.

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I'm not saying it isn't goddamn manipulation, I'm just saying it is not her fault, people should at least have some understanding of how severe and complex and deliberating this disease is, yet they fail to. This world is seriously screwed up. People need more understanding on this disease, people need to know just how serious it is, people need to know that what the inflicted does is not their fault, what they are going through is one of the toughest battles they'll face in life. Yet people show no appreciation nor understanding.

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