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Anorexia

My friend generally doesn't eat, she is really skinny and can't control her weight. She faints a lot and I'm starting to be worried it's the starting signs of anorexia.
 
My other friends don't help, they say stuff all the time like "you ARE anorexic ____" and when I tell them to stop because that may be the reason why she does it, they carry on. I've noticed that she keeps handing me her food and telling me to eat it, which I'm not okay with because I'm trying to keep a balance in my meals at the minute. But she doesn't seem to understand.
 
How can I help her, and what can I do to stop my other friends?
 
B
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Sam

Hi B,

Thank you for your letter. It can be really difficult when you’re worried about a friend, especially when it feels like your other friends aren’t really helping or are making things worse. It’s brilliant that you’ve written to me to help think about what you can do.

I’m concerned to hear that your friend hasn’t really been eating, especially when she’s been fainting as well. When you feel like a friend may have an eating problem, it’s really natural to not know what to do. I’m wondering what it might be like to say to your friend that you're worried, and perhaps to talk to her about what it might be like for you both to go to someone you trust, like a teacher, to ask for help.

One of the hardest things about worrying about a friend is accepting that it has to be their choice about whether they get support. Your friend might not be ready to talk about things yet, or she may find it difficult talking about her problems to someone she's close to. However, if it gets to the point where you’re really concerned about her health, then that is the time to go and talk to an adult that you trust. You could consider letting your friend know that you are concerned enough to feel like you have to tell someone.

I can see how much you care about your friend, but also how hard it is that she’s trying to make you eat her food when you’re trying to balance your own meals. It can feel like a lot of responsibility when you are trying to look out for a friend. It’s important to remember to take care of yourself as well. It’s okay to say if she’s doing something that bothers you.

It soudnds like all this worry is a lot to handle on your own, and I’m wondering what it might be like to talk to a ChildLine counsellor about what’s been happening. The counsellors can give you an opportunity to talk about what’s making you worried about your friend, as well as helping you to think about what you might like to do. You could even ask your friend to contact them as well, to give her an opportunity to talk to someone independent and confidential.

You can talk to ChildLine on 1-2-1 chat (which works like instant messenger), by phoning 0800 1111 (it’s completely free and won’t show up on the phone bill) or even by writing an email.

Take care,

Sam

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