Making Friends With Other Girls with Eating Disorders

I can say probably the best part of being in treatment is the people you meet. I've not only made incredible friends with staff, but also with the other girls I've been in treatment with. Meeting these people from all around the country, with similar issues felt a little less lonesome. At home, this isn't an easily discussed topic. Now, here I was in a room full of people that understood what it was like. My biggest secret was known by every single person here, and it's such a relieving feeling. These girls ended up being my biggest supports, I lived with them, ate with them, shared living spaces with them.. they not only became friends, they became family. So, you can imagine one of the worst parts of leaving treatment is when you have to say goodbye, it's extra hard if they live half way across the country. Keeping in touch is often hard, because of a few things.
Defend Your BoundariesI wanted to talk about this topic, not only because I wanted to shout out my lovely Renfrew, 5West, CFD and OPC girls, but also because I wanted to talk about the sad possibility of distancing yourself for your own protection. I want to say that I've been on both sides of this conflict. I've had to distance myself and others had to distance themselves from me. Well not me exactly, but from my disorder which was in control at the time.
When someone with an eating disorder is struggling, it's a possibility that it's obvious. (Not all the time, but sometimes its apparent.) The sad truth is that recovery is hard, probably the hardest thing I've ever had to keep up with. Possibly the hardest thing I will ever have to do. But, while someone is struggling and asking for your help.. there is only so much you can do for them without putting your own recovery in jeopardy. I've had to learn how to put up healthy boundaries.
  1. Keeping in contact but not going into details about behaviors/numbers/etc. It's going to be different when one friend is more in their eating disorder than the other. Someone who is malnourished and actively listening to the "ED voice" will try and sneak in those topics. Shut it down, instead tell them how much you care about them and want to see them healthy and happy. Remind them of the beautiful life they're missing out on.
  2. Temporarily "unfollow" them on social media. Validation of our sickness is a huge trigger, we might seek for it. I've been the one to body check and post pictures of myself because sometimes I felt "not sick enough." Getting that text message from a concerned friend asking, "Hey, are you okay? I saw the picture you just posted.." Was a validation that I indeed was looking ill. When you're trying to recover yourself, seeing these pictures of emaciation is sadly a trigger. It may remind you of when others would seem to care more, or when you had a sick body. It may remind you of treatment and make you miss the constant support or the safety, it may bring up a lot of things for you. Well, it does for me and that is why distancing yourself from those images is crucial.
  3. Tune out jealousy and competition, in replacement for compassion and gratefulness. It's hard giving up your eating disorder, and I'm sure a piece of your identity too. When I hate the way I look, I seem to focus on what I did look like or what others look like. (Usually something emotional is causing that, by the way.) Eating disorders are competitive, "Why does she get to look like that?" or "She's already lost so much weight and I've maintained?" It's easy to get caught up in comparison of ones eating disorder to someone else's, which is dangerous. You may begin to lash out on your friend or even slip up in your own recovery. I often romanticize what it was like to be in my eating disorder, I forget the nasty details and focus on the appearance part. What is helpful for me is to remember what I was doing, how I felt physically and mentally when I was at that place. What it took me to get to that place and how it affected others that I loved. Feel bad for them, because you're in such a better place. Wish for them a better life and be thankful you're no longer there.

About The Author:

unnamed-1My name is Kristina, I'm 23 and I'm from New York. I've suffered with an eating disorder for quite some time and in that time I've learnt so much from treatment. I'm trying to use my experiences to help others, give tips and helpful advice that I have had to learn the hard way. Aside from blogging, I enjoy singing, playing the ukulele, and spending time with my amazing boyfriend. I'm a big believer that humor is the best medicine, so I always try and have fun and crack a joke. I'm inspired by others, and I hope others will be inspired by me one day! I truly thank project heal for letting me share a blog entry, its an incredible organization!