My friend is ill ? what shall I do?
Thoughts, worries and confusion on one side: 1. My friend has anorexia, I cannot leave her alone, I must get her out of it somehow! 2. She should go to a doctor. Shall I drag her there even when she does not want? 3. She said several times that she would kill herself, she was good for nothing and she would finally be in peace. 4. She must eat otherwise she dies. I can´t let her die! 5. I am worried to ask her about food. She eats nothing and keeps making up excuses! 6. I´ve found food in a litter bin even though she swore she had eaten it. 7. I yelled at her horribly because of food. Now I feel sorry but it can´t be taken back. 8. It is strange to eat when she doesn´t eat. I feel ill at ease when I eat. I never know if she will eat with me. Shall I let her eat as she wants? 9. I had an idea to stop eating too. Maybe it would bug her and she would start eating because of me. 10. Sometimes she wants me to tell her boyfriend that she ate when she didn´t. What shall I do? If I say the truth, she´ll get angry at me, if I lie I sustain her disease, don´t I? 11. Shall I tell her parents? She´ll get angry at me but I worry about her so much that this might help. 12. Her boyfriend asks me what to do but I have no idea. He is desperate what to do. 13. Her mother called me. Shall I tell her what I know or better not? 14. She doesn´t want to talk to me, is horribly sad, enjoys nothing, goes nowhere, locks in herself. 15. Why doesn´t she call or at least write that she is OK? Why has she so changed that she doesn´t care for me? 16. Her disease is to blame for all the trouble. It seems to me that I can´t be cross with her when she is ill and cannot be blamed. 17. She hardly talks to me. I feel silly and shy to tell her about my troubles when she has bigger ones than I do. 18. How long will it take until she is again like she used to be before? 19. Sometimes I have no strength to be with her, keep writing her, beg for contact. But I can´t betray her! 20. The main thing is that she is alright, nothing else matters! Ideas, suggestions and solutions on the other side: 1. I know that the only one who can help is herself. I can only offer my support and friendship. 2. I can offer her the option to see a doctor or a psychologist, to make a contact together, to accompany her there, but I can´t force her. It is her decision, violation is no good in this regard. A treatment requires compliance, not resistance. 3. If she starts talking about end of life, I can ask directly whether she means suicide and try finding out how real are her plans. I try offering a contact to a crisis centre or a help line and I take seriously what she says. But I am not an expert. Making a taboo around her suicidal thoughts could be dangerous. 4. She must eat but only she can decide about her life and health. I can help her with food when she cares about it, when we agree on it and she wants to know what is a normal serving or she wants to eat together etc. 5. I tell her about my uncertainty around food and we try agreeing on rules we will both respect. 6. I will again try establishing sincerity, a way of communicating without lies. We will try finding together how I possibly make her lie and how this could be changed. 7. I have the right to be angry. When I calm down, I try seeing her and telling her how I felt, why I was so cross with her. I ask her how she saw it and how she felt. 8. I must eat normally as I am used to in order to show her that I eat regularly, am adequately active and yet I maintain a physiological healthy weight. She will also see a normal serving and comprehend that it is normal to eat, not vice versa. When I go shopping or prepare a meal, I ask her what shall we buy or have to eat. I don´t play her game by a priori expecting that she won´t eat at all. 9. It isn´t a good idea. I must eat normally. She must eat because of herself not someone else. 10. I mustn´t assent to any such request. I explain her why I cannot and will not do it. I shouldn´t interfere in her relationships with her boyfriend, mother on any other close people of hers. 11. I shall talk this through with my girlfriend first. I tell her about my fear and idea to tell her parents. I will not act beyond her back so that she doesn´t feel threatened by the disease plus her environment. 12. I can tell her boyfriend about my stance, we can mutually listen to each one. I can advise him to try telling all this directly to his girlfriend, to let her know he is worried about her. I can´t solve it with him, I don´t want go between them as it would harm both their and my relationship with my friend. 13. I can listen to her mother and let her know how I talk to her daughter. I can share her fear and tell her about mine. If she cares, I can advise her what literature on eating disorders has helped me and I may offer contact with experts. 14. I try offering her various activities and events we can attend together. I ask her about her wishes, what she thinks about, she desires etc. 15. I know that it is hard for her to communicate. I try agreeing on common rules. I let her know how stressful it is when she cuts off. We try finding a way of communicating so that I needn´t worry either. 16. I have the right to be angry even if my friend is ill. To express feelings including anger is natural. If I excuse everything by her illness (that she doesn´t call, come to agreed place, open the door when we have agreed on my visit etc.), I only sustain its symptoms. My friend is still a person who must respect me as well despite her being ill. 17. In a friendship, both parties have the right to talk about their troubles. Moreover, speaking only about her disease destroys the relationship. It is necessary to get a shared experience, to share everything as before even though it may be more difficult for my friend at times. 18. I try to orient myself in related issues, I read books on eating disorders, I search for basic information on the internet, and I arm myself with faith and patience. 19. I live my own life, I care for my needs, my interests, my close ones! Only if I can live for myself, I can provide support to my friend at times when I am strong enough and when she wants it. I am entitled to look for expert help and advice, too. 20. Other things matter! It does matter how I feel, how am I doing, how I live. I am not less important just because I am healthy!