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Eating disorder

I found out about a month ago that my best friend had a eating disorder. I noticed suspicious behaviour and eventually she told me. I thought it had stopped however I found out yesterday that it's still going. Her sister and I are the only ones that know however I feel like she needs to speak to someone else about it. She is becoming really skinny however still does not notice this. I think she suffers from bulhimia however I have no idea how to help her. On top of this her mum has quite severe mental problems and her parents are getting a divorce. This is means she is always under a lot of stress and gets annoyed quite easily. Quite a while ago now I also noticed she has been self harming and she has recently been having severe panic attacks. I know its quite a lot of different things but please help me.
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Thank you for your letter. You’ve talked about a lot of very important things that your friend is trying to manage on her own and I’m really glad that you’ve decided to talk to someone else about how worried you are.

There are lots of reasons why young people might self-harm. The need to cause harm usually comes from emotions that are very difficult to cope with. It sounds like your friend is under a lot of stress and her moods can change quickly and this is controlling her whole life.

Self-harm and changing the way she eats could be a way for her to feel more in control of things, especially if she feels that other parts of her life are out of control. There are some big changes in your friend’s family life with her parent’s divorce. I imagine that coping with her mum's mental health problems could be very tough too.

Often it can be difficult for someone to understand why they’re self-harming. This can make finding words to explain it to another person really hard. It sounds like it took some time for her to tell you and it may be that she’s unsure of how you may react if she tells you more. She’s spoken to you about her eating disorder and you and your friend's sister are the only ones that know. Recently she’s been having panic attacks and it sounds like you’ve now reached a point where you’d really like her to be able to get some help.

It might be helpful for you to look at our page about eating problems - perhaps there’s a time when you could suggest to your friend that you look together as it will give you more information on problems with eating and illnesses related to it. You said that your friend needs to talk to someone else and it might be an idea to think about which adults you’d feel able to talk to first. Maybe there’s someone at school that you trust – like the school nurse or a teacher.

You sound like a very caring friend and it may be good to think about the different ways that she might react to the way you are trying to help.

If you don’t feel ready to talk to someone at school, you or your friend could talk to a Childline counsellor directly by ringing 0800 1111, sending an email or having a 1-2-1 chat.

I hope we hear from you again when you’re ready.

Take care,


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