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Anorexic friend? What to do?


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I have lived with this girl in a house of 6 girls for the last three years. We are students. She started off probably about a size 12 UK sizes and this would be a size 8-10 in america i think. Then over 2 years she has lost a lot of weight so that now she is a size 6-8 in the UK so a size 0-2-4 i think in america?? Lol sorry confusing! Anyway she is a very odd girl - despite living with us for three years she has never come out of her shell. We always all do everything together but for some reason she is always a bit distant and quiet. She has never opened up to us and has never revealed anything personal about herself to us. She is very secretative. At first we thought it was shyness but after three years we think it must be a choice she has made. We are her closest friends though, as she is like this with everybody. She is completely obsessed with the way she looks. After three years none of us have ever seen her without makeup on and if she doesn't have any on and we come in the room she runs away. She will never let any of us hang out with her in her bedroom. Due to us not being really close to her we have never really felt we can ask her about her eating habits. She is a vegetarian which doesn't help and has cereal in the morning which she weighs, and then basically some vegetables for dinner. She will never eat snacks or sweets or any treats. One time we all went out to pizza hut for dinner and she had once slice. Yesterday though a few of us were in the kitchen and one of my housemates started jokingly saying how she was going to have to go on a diet after all the cake she ate after her birthday. A few other people started talking about diets too so I asked the potentially anorexic housemate if she is on a diet. She replied kind of jokingly 'what sort of diet'? and i immidiately responded 'a weight losing diet?' to which she went silent and just wouldn't reply so another housemate changed the subject. It was so incredibly awkward. What i don't get is clearly that means she is on a diet??? But if she doesn't want us to know why not just say no? Why say nothing and make it weird and awkward? Does she want attention? What are we supposed to do now?

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Humour and misdirecting comments are a way of communicating. It is avoidance. Maybe she feels she will be judged? I mean if she does not say much about herself or her life maybe there was a good chance she was judged in her childhood, by others as she grew up so she learned to back away from people.

 

Just gently lead her by being open and caring.

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My wife is a 'recovering' anorexic. She doesn't have the obsession over "looks" like your roomate.. only body shape/image. These sufferers can be VERY touchy when it comes to the subject of food. My wife has come crying to me many times from her parents or other family making comments on what she is eating (or not eating).

 

The first step is for HER to realize there is a problem. Even after that, though, you have to be careful what you say/do in regards to food - as seemingly innocuous comments will have a way of smashing her emotional spirit into pieces.

 

I know you want to help your friend, but it can be very easy for anorexics to become defensive and even more closed in when pressured. Helping them is NOT easy, and is down right impossible if they don't want help.

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Yeah we have always felt like we didn't want to upset her so the last two years we have never mentioned anything to her about food or diet or what she eats etc. Me asking her if she was on a diet was the first time. And she reacted defensively so now it's like should we continue to just sit by and do nothing? She's just so impossible to talk to about things in general let alone this kind of thing! we have no idea how to even go about asking if she's ok and even if she did think she had a problem i am 99% sure she wouldn't tell us even if we asked.

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I think the best thing to do is show her and tell her that you care and tell her if she ever needs to talk about anything you are there. There is a lot of issues behind eating disorders that are very hard to decode and correct if at all possible and you wont be able to do it without her wanting to.

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What makes you think she's anorexic? Cereal in the morning, veggies for dinner, one slice of pizza instead of stuffing yourself all sound like healthy eating choices not a sign of anorexia to me. Maybe she likes to be very thin and feels better that way. Anorexic people are very sick people who can only be diagnosed as such by medical profesionals. They go through such lengths to avoid gaining weight where they wouldn't even touch a crumb of pizza let alone a slice. Many people suffer from "portion distortion" when it comes to eating, even those that think they eat well are often over eating by double what is recommended so then when they see someone eating 1000 calories a day they automatically assume anorexia. Anorexic people often don't eat for days and if they do it's only so that their bodies can function minimally. In addition, they spend endless hours working out and trying to burn of calories that they think they should be burning. I'm not sure what advice you're looking for either. Instead of trying to figure out what's wrong with her why not just leave her alone and let her be? Do nothing and worry about your own eating choices rather than someone else's.

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That's pretty aggressive advice from someone who literally has no clue about the situation or the girl in question. I wrote on here for advice on how to ask someone if they are having eating problems. She may not be on the verge of death or suffering from full blown anorexia but that doesn't necessarily mean she doesn't have an eating disorder or a problem, and a problem that's only getting worse. She is too thin for her bone structure and well below what is natural. Her bones pertrude and if she lost much more she probably would have to be hospitalised. She is not maintaining a thin weight, but slowly but surely losing more and more. Being a friend I'd rather act now then be sorry later. But if I am sorry later, I'll be sure to message you about it to remind you of your poor advice.

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I wouldn't necessarily say she's anorexic. That's something a doctor would have to diagnose. I don't eat very much, I'm not very big and my weight fluctuates all the time. Sometimes when I'm stressed out, I can't eat. I can't even make myself eat any breakfast, lunch or dinner. Often times depression can cause this as well. People internalize their troubles often as well. And if she doesn't want to be seen without make up, well, so what? You never really know what's going on with people and I don't really feel that it's your call to call her out on her eating habits. This will only lead to her becoming more defensive.

 

Anyhow... if it turns out that she does have some sort of eating disorder, it's usually because these people need to control something in their life. Be it food, or not allowing you to go in her room, or see her without make up. It's things she can control. People often do this when they've grown up in a house hold with things they can't control. Ie; abusive parents, divorced parents, bullying at school... Maybe try and approach this from a different way. Instead of being critical about her faults, try and reassure her that you accept her as she is. I heard this quote and it was about difficult people, and it said something along the lines of 'Those who are the hardest to love, need it the most '

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