Talking to your loved one with bulimia can be a challenge, but showing the person your support will slowly eliminate the fear, shame, and guilt. I remember my wife, Reena, back when we were in the university. She was still my girlfriend back then. As soon as I stepped in our dorm room, it smelled of rotten eggs and old noodles. I thought it was my laundry or food that I had left lying around for days. It was late when I realized that Reena was bulimic, and she had been binge-eating and purging for years without my knowledge.
The lack of seriousness taken by many patients regarding the medical sequeale of Anorexia and Bulimia, contributes to the inability to choose the best protocol for care and therefore increases the likelihood of treatment failure. — Judy Scheel Ph.D., L.C.S.W., CEDS
We Feel Obligated To Help Our Loved One With Bulimia
I felt obligated to help her. She was my girlfriend, and I wanted her to get better. I wanted her to be healthy and happy. At first, she denied everything, even if I saw her puke jars hidden away. It was awful and truly disgusting. I wanted to slap her so she could make sense of herself, but also at the same time, I needed her to come clean and tell me how I can help her.
Without her approval, I went to an eating disorder specialist and told her of the issue. She said that I cannot force Reena to go into treatment for now. The specialist also mentioned that there are ways to talk to a person with bulimia to overcome the fear, shame, and guilt.
She also explained to me that it wouldn’t be easy, and at times I may have arguments and confrontations with my girlfriend. I said that I was ready for it, even if I was not, and yet I had to do it for Reena’s sake. The expert gave me tips on how to talk to her which I followed. Not long after I practiced these ways, my girlfriend was slowly trusting me and was letting me in again.
Clients with anorexia and bulimia who have pervasive psychological undercurrents motivating their behavior with food are negatively impacted by the billion dollar marketing efforts of the weight loss industry. — Dawn Delgado LMFT, CEDS-S
How To Talk To Someone With Bulimia
During your conversation with your loved one, as much as possible, use the pronoun “I” to let her know that you are with her in this struggle. In this way, she will identify your support and eventually, the trust will follow.
“I want to help you.”
“I understand you.”
“I will always be here for you.”
“I love you.”
These were the words that came out of my mouth every time Reena purged. She would cry, and tell me that she doesn’t understand why she’s acting that way. All she knows is that she feels so bad about herself which makes her want to vomit after binge-eating.
It was too much for me at times. The whole situation can be overwhelming. With that, the eating disorder specialist told me that I need a support system. You can talk to a trusted friend or a family member. If your partner has a mental health issue, (bulimia is considered as one), it will be heavy for you. You also need to talk to others about the situation to sort out your thoughts. As for me, I turned to my mother. She inspired me to become Reena’s rock.
Be Prepared For Their Reaction.
Denial or refusal to get help is the most common reaction you’ll get from a person with bulimia the moment you extend help. Continue to offer it anyway and while doing so, follow up on your research about the condition and show your undying support. Convince her to get professional help. Through persistent talk, she will eventually give in.
However, if your partner is experiencing chest pains, dizziness, and blackouts and if you find blood in either vomit or stool, this needs immediate medical attention. Bring her to the hospital immediately.
Reena didn’t reach that point, thank God, but if I didn’t discover it, she would have worsened. After weeks of “pestering” her to see the eating disorder specialist, she finally gave in. It took my brave wife 26 months to heal from her mental health issue and recover from bulimia.
Combining psychotherapy with nutritional therapies and yoga provides an integrative approach to efficacy and empowers our clients in their recovery process. — Leslie E. Korn Ph.D., MPH, LMHC, ACS, NTP
Never Ever Give Up.
Never give up. That’s my ultimate advice to those who are assisting their loved ones with eating disorders. Their lives are at stake here, and if you decide to meddle in their binge and purge cycle, arm yourself with unconditional love. You and your partner will need it.