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  1. #1

    Want To Help But Can't

    Hello,

    Although I have a lot of compassion for people with all mental health issues, I feel especially troubled whenever I encounter someone with an eating disorder like anorexia or bulimia.

    Someone I used to know and love had a severe traumatic incident that resulted in an eating disorder, among other problems, and I did not even realize it at the time. Thus, I was totally unhelpful to her. I feel like I completely failed at a time when I had a real opportunity to make a difference. I have also met people with eating disorders over the Internet who I thought were very nice and in a very sad situation.

    Although I have not had an eating disorder myself, I do suffer from depression/anxiety/social anxiety, and I feel like I have a better understanding of eating disorders than average. I get tired of people saying that "The media just portrays too many thin people, and anorexics should just cut it out." I understand that it is a lot deeper and more complicated than that. I have confronted similar reactions to my own issues.

    I want to do something to help victims of eating disorders, either individuals or as a general "cause." But as a 25-year-old unattached male, I am not the kind of person that most sufferers are inclined to trust, and frankly I don't blame them. But even if they do realize that this isn't some bizarre attempt to seduce them, my education and skills are not in a medical background, and I don't know what I could possibly say or do that could make things better. I usually feel like I shouldn't even try, since I feel like I just make things worse if I do.

    Although I acknowledge that it is not totally healthy for me to be hung up on "undoing" my past mistakes, I'm not writing this to ask for sympathy. I just want to know if there's something I could do that would be more helpful, or what I should say if someone tells me they have an eating disorder. I know they really need to see a qualified professional, but many of them say they already are, and aren't having good results, and even if they aren't already seeing a professional, they are unlikely to be convinced just from me telling them.

    I have big problems with employment and finances, and I can't just write a check to some organiztion, even if I wanted to. I really want to help people with eating disorders in a more meaningful way. Is there anything I can do?

    Thanks.

  2. #2

    Want To Help But Can't

    what do you think you could have said or done to make 'the' difference? don't put all of that responsibility onto yourself, most likely it would have happened anyways.. in fact, people w/ ed's often have people around them who do notice and are worried, and it doesn't make a difference until the person w/ the ed sees a problem and wants to get better. you said that you 'failed' your friend- I'm sure that your friendship at that time and now means the world to her, even if you couldn't 'save' her from an ed... you probably made more of a difference than you know. are you trying to 'save' your friend from developing an ed & make up for it so to say or are you genuinely interested in raising awareness about ed's and helping out in whichever way you can? either way, you can make a difference, again, probably more than you realize. but you can't expect to save every person out there w/ an ed or make it your responsibility to make everyone realize what they're doing to themselves is self-destructive, which btw they most likely already know- I am saying all of this for your own good, b/c you have to realize that some people just don't want to get better or don't even realize they have a problem and it is too much of a burden for you to take that role on. You dont' need a medical background or a specific education to raise awareness about eating disorders- you do need compassion, patience, committment and a genuine interest to make a difference- which you all certainly have. Your friend's experience and your own struggles w/ depression etc. have put you in a position where you understand that telling someone to 'get better' isn't going to do it, and you can use that knowledge and an open mind to raise awareness among your friends, family, or even community depending on how invovled you want to be. Every difference makes a difference in this case. Also, you could raise awareness about things you've had to deal with yourself though- if that's a topic that also interests you and feel passionate about.

    You said you don't know what to say or do to make a difference... sometimes being there to listen can help a tremendous amount. And being on the other end here, I can tell you having someoen to listen can make all the difference in the world. I wouldn't expect someoen to 'fix' my problems, but it would be nice to know that people still accept you and care about you despite the problems. Too often, people don't want to listen to the 'bad stuff' or become frustrated when they don't understand- you can do some research on ed's to understand more about their causes, development, treatments. You can't force someone into treatment but you can reassure them that you're concerned about them and that you're there for them. If they are in treatment and not getting better, remember that it takes time to get to that point.. if it still looks like things aren't getting better you could suggest to help them find another therapist, maybe one w/ a different approach or one who specialzes in ed's?

    Hun, you don't need to write a check to help by any means. There's plenty that you can do. For ex. there's a lot of organizations out there who primarily depend on volunteers in raising awareness about ed's. Check out some of these links and please feel free to ask more questions if you have any...(I tried to post links that are relevant to your location ie. US, UK etc. but as far as I know Hyrule is a video game..??? try searching for organizations to volunteer with etc. in your area w/ google or the telephone book). I also posted a thread w/ 2 links on the body image forum today about body image campaigns, they might give you some ideas as well....

    How to help a friend with eating and body image issues

    What should I say? Tips...

    Get Involved: Natinal Eating Disorders Association (NEDA)

    Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders (ANAD)
    - advocacy, education & prevention, publicity

    What you can and can't do (Something-fishy website)

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