In the past year, I have become increasingly aware of eating disorders (EDs) and the devastating impact they have, not just on the person who is struggling, but on family members and friends as well.
A very close friend of mine has been struggling with anorexia for just over a year. I have learned so much about EDs through her struggle, and I realized how many misperceptions I had about it. To me, it always seemed pretty basic: you start eating and that is the end of it. It is SO MUCH more than that. EDs distort your thinking and convince you that you are fat and ugly even when you are severely underweight and malnourished.
I also learned that you can't assume that people with EDs are always thin. Another friend, who I recently learned is bulemic, does not fit that model. Too often we base our thinking on appearance, and that is one of the biggest problems with EDs.
These friendships have really opened my eyes, and I hope that you will check out these links and become more aware of EDs as well. And even more so, if you are struggling, I pray that you will use these resources as part of your recovery process.
Ways to help someone with an ED:
Be there for them. Talk to them like you did before you knew. Don't "preach" to them or try to fix them.
Don't offer trite sayings such as "Just eat," "If you wanted to stop, you could" or some of the most hurtful ones like "You just need to pray more" or "You just need to trust God more." Often we say these things because we don't know what else to say. Instead, just tell the person that you just don't know what to say but that you are praying for them.
And most importantly, PRAY for them. If appropriate, tell them that you are praying for them. Encourage them in this way.
I want to leave you with a quote that I found on one of these sites:
"Sticks and stones may break her bones, but words could cause her to starve herself. . .to death."