A little while ago I was honoured to receive messages asking me to create another post that included speculation and answers for some of the most challenging questions regarding eating disorders. Looking back on my own battle with anorexia and bulimia I see there is a wealth of knowledge and solutions I have gained from my victory over it and it would be foolish for me not to share them.
I trust they will provide some insight, and hopefully, breakthrough for those in your life who are struggling.
For all of you reading this post in hopes of gaining insight for a loved one, a colleague or an acquaintance I commend you a million times over and I want to let you know that the war can and will be won.
It just takes some strategic steps and a whole lot of choices
(on their part and your part).
Before I start with some tips I want to share something very important with you. I want you to understand that it is not your responsibility to see that this person turns from their destructive ways and follow the path towards health and wholeness. It is NOT your fault if the struggling person does not want to receive your help. Ultimately, the way they live their life is their own decision and we must respect this as truth. This one fact is fundamental to how we approach the healing process.
(We must take age into consideration of course. If those struggling are underage and need intervention this is a different story entirely).
Tips For Interacting With Those Struggling
1. “My, God! Don’t you look healthy!” Please don’t ever say this to someone who is struggling with a severe eating disorder. It may seem backwards to use as this appears to be a compliment but for those whose goal is to be shockingly skinny it is a complete insult. It may actually act as a trigger and spiral that person out of control in their eating habits.
2. “You’re so selfish… I can’t believe you would do this to yourself and hurt so many others around you in the process.”
Please don’t say this to someone who is struggling. Not eating may seem like a simple solution to you but for those whose who put their identity on the scale the answer isn’t so easy. Some are trying to get out of their destructive behaviours, others choose not to. Yes, what they are doing is selfish but aren’t we all quite selfish? Make sure to take a glance in the mirror before judging these people for what they struggle with.
3. “I can’t stand your awful choices anymore!” The key to helping someone come out of their disorder is to be patient and consistent with them. Allow them to be themselves in your presence and allow for them to let you know when they have made mistakes. There is a lot of trust build between individuals when someone as intimate as this is shared. When talking with them discuss other things besides the sickness they are battling. When time allows for you to do so let them know you will be there as someone to talk to (or refer a counsellor).
4. “I can’t believe you threw up again! What are you doing to yourself?”Please don’t become angry with this person if they tell you they have been struggling and aren’t sure of themselves. They will most likely not trust you with what they have to disclose in the future.
5. “You’ll never be free from this.” Many people, including counsellors, told me I would never be free from my eating disorder. I am here to tell you that what they told me was complete and total bull#&*. I could not with what they said any less. So, here’s the tip: do not tell those who struggle that they are a failure and that they won’t be free.
6. Pray. I ask you to at least try this once. I ask you this only because prayer was the number one thing that turned my life around. Two family friends took to praying for me every single day in their prayer time. Their prayers took time but they definitely had an impact on my healing and my life.
7. Wait. Wait for God to answer your prayers. Wait for the patience and wisdom you have asked for. Wait and watch as that person who is battling their pain learns they have healing at the cross of Jesus. Expect a miracle because miracles are not extinct. They happen.
Don’t believe me?
I invite you to take a deeper look at my story: my body was wrecked from the years of abuse. My enamel was becoming thin. My bones started becoming so weak. No one could save me. There was nothing the doctors could do. The counsellors were clueless. My parents and friends were wracked with grief. My life appeared to be coming to a close on multiple occasions and yet here I am… you don’t believe in miracles?
Check it out; I am one.