Helping Others Understand
What will you do if people ask if everything is okay?
It may help to form a strategy for starting to tell people a bit more about the challenges in your life.
You may initially find it easier to tell just one person. You might find it helpful to write down what you’d like to say – you can use this as a prompt when you are talking or simply hand it over as a note. Sometimes people find it easier to talk about difficult topics when they are on neutral territory, such as outside or in a public place, and when they can share in an activity, such as walking, which can provide some distraction to diffuse any awkwardness or tension. Try to be as open as you can so that you can be fully supported by those who you chose to confide in.
More often than not, people will be asking about your behaviour because they care about you and want to understand what is going on so that they can help. If friends are being unhelpful, they are rarely doing this intentionally; more likely, they may think they are helping. Often people can feel helpless and unsure about how to support someone with an eating disorder so it will help you if you can let people know how they can support you.
I think when you have a friend who suffers from an eating disorder there is a tendency for you to focus on their behaviours: what they are eating, how much they are eating, exercise habits etc. However, this can create unbearable pressure for a sufferer and cause them to find new ways of hiding their disorder from outside view, making them even more deeply entrenched in it. I remember feeling very awkward and guilty when my flatmates kept asking me why I always seemed to be on my way to the gym; so eventually I stopped telling them.