Originally published in our Laudable Life advice column in the Lakelands Leader
Q: I am worried that a friend of mine may be developing an eating disorder. She never eats during lunch anymore, she’s always tired, and she looks too thin. The whole situation seems a lot like To The Bone (on Netflix). I’m not sure how to handle this situation…should I go to our school counselor? Her parents? Should I speak to her directly? It’s awkward and I don’t want to offend her; what if I’m totally off base on this? But I’m concerned.
A: You should talk to an adult when you have a concern like this. It is just too important of an issue for you to try handle it on your own. Yes, a good person to talk to is your school counselor. She will have access to her parents if need be and she is trained to handle these kinds of situations. Often, your counselor can address your concerns while keeping you anonymous. Typically, people with an eating disorders actually like it when they’re told they “look too skinny.’ So instead of approaching the subject with your friend by telling her you think she is “losing too much weight” or “looking too thin,” you might say something like, “I am worried about your health.” Let your friend know that you will go with her to talk with a trusted adult. Remember, you’re not a therapist, so you should not take on the responsibility of helping your friend alone. If you decide to speak directly to her, be up front and honest. Let her know that you care and that you’re worried about her. If she pushes you away know that it is a part of the illness. When you have an eating disorder it can be very scary to admit that you need to change and to begin to take those steps. Whichever method you choose to intervene, remember that you cannot do it alone.