In an article I wrote for ANEB (which I will link when it is published), I elaborated on the act of opening up to your friends and family about your past or present struggles with an eating disorder. As I was typing it up, I started thinking about my own experience, and what I wish my peers had or had not done.
So if someone close to you has confided in you regarding their eating disorder struggles, here are 3 things to keep in mind:
Rule #1: Ask Questions (then STFU)
This is probably something they have been keeping inside for quite some time now, thus they might have a lot to vent. Don't make judgement calls, thank them for trusting you enough to keep this private handle it maturely, and let those floodgates open.
Ask them about when it started, what are their triggers, if their parents know, etc. (***However, I seriously recommend you avoid the topic of specific details about the physical aspects of their eating disorder. eg: their purging or restraining habits, etc. More on that in the aforementioned article). You ask questions, then you keep quiet and listen. This is not the time to make comments, jokes or force them to get help the way you think they should.
They obviously think you can handle the news, so honour their trust and shut the fudge up.
Rule #2: Be Available, not Intrusive (so STFU, mostly)
Okay, so they confided in you. That is most likely a sign that, if ever they need help or support, you are the person they will reach. Take that job seriously (though don't take it too seriously and putting the weight of her problems on your shoulders. If you are not a professional, there is only so much you can do. Walking constantly on eggshells could bring issues for you as well).
Be ready to step in if they ask for it. Key words: if they ask. Constantly bringing it up will probably make them rather uncomfortable. There is one exception to this rule though, hence the mostly: If your friend never brings it up again (and I mean for months) and their situation seems to be deteriorating and their safety/health is on the line, you have the right to confront them and/or seek help from a counsellor or any other professional.
Rule #3: Be the Emotional Support (so again, STFU)
Your job is to be the emotional support. The one she can vent to when she is stressed, depressed, anxious, tired, etc. This is where you can be most helpful, considering the fact that these factors are the triggers (therefor the cause) of her struggle.
You are not the behaviour police: whether she is not eating much at lunch or hiding food from others, these are consequences that she must control on her own.
Think of it this way: you will not always be there to, for example, control their calorie intake. These behaviours are often something they are ashamed of, and pointing them out could really embarrass them. They won't stop because you make them eat more of their sandwhich, they will go continue their patterns somewhere else.
So keep your mouth shut and be the shoulder to cry on, not the pasta police. Got it?
(see rule 2 for the exception).
Hope you all have an amazing week, dollfaces!
Music I've been loving: Half Moon Run. Saw their show for the 2nd time last week and it blew my mind. You must check out their album: Dark Eyes. Here's a groupie picture I snagged of the guitarist/harmonica player/pianist/cutest guy on earth: