How to Seek Good Support System for Positive Recovery from Anorexia?

By October 30, 2012

Dear FB I wrote on behalf of a dear friend on the subject of another friend “trivializing” her eating disorder, which is now posted on your website. I wish to update on the situation and would like to seek your response. AN is still in recovery. Some days are better than most, but in general has been stable (medically). Unfortunately, the ED eating habits, rituals and mindset remains an every day ongoing battle against the gripping ED. The concern lately involves the colleague friend, whom was discussed in the previous posting. Since then, they had seen each other regularly. Lately the friendship turned stale after escalating rows whenever F interfered with the food issue. F made swift and brutal comments (even in the public) like “…but you don’t eat!” (AN had to justify and retaliate). The comments were clueless and inappropriate according to AN because those were moments spent together outside meal times. F was abusive when it involves matters (food especially) that he claimed are affecting his life. AN prepares her meals at home according to the recovery plan with the nutritionist. AN is devastated and confused whether those were valid comments helpful for long-term goal being able to eat “normally.” So, AN consulted her therapist & nutritionist and was convinced that changes are necessary to progress in the recovery. HOWEVER, time is the essence, one step, slowly but surely and cannot be forced! AN realized that interventions from F were not supportive emotionally, morally and mentally. Should AN persists in such situation/friendship? How else can AN move ahead/recover without the adversities with F? Is indulging in ED forum, etc. a “cult?” How to seek good support system for positive recovery? Hope you may share and advise in AN’s dilemma. Many thanks and gratitude – K.

Dear K,

Thank you! I greatly appreciate the time you took to update AN’s recovery. I am sad to hear how F is choosing to treat AN. In my first response I wrote that my vote was for the relationship to be put on hiatus or cut. I am pulling for AN to continue to cipher out what relationships are not supportive emotionally, morally, and mentally and move on without them.

I wonder if AN is sharing about F and F’s interactions with her therapist. My hope would be that AN’s therapist is challenging her with the reality of recognizing what relationships work for her and which do not. I don’t know if AN can move forward in recovery if she is in relationship with F. When she is able to use her voice to stand up to F and cut the unhealthy stuff from her life she will also be able to use that same voice to stand up to the eating disorder itself.

I do not personally know if the ED forum is a “cult.” I imagine what you may be asking reflects a concern about how that particular group functions as recovery support. It would be my personal opinion as a therapist that support persons need to be persons that physically reside within the community of the person recovering. While there are positives associated with on-line communities (for example, Fb is one of those wanting to help) a person must establish “hands-on” support during their initial and critical recovery process. The internet allows so much anonymity and that can translate to secrecy and allow the person recovering to not live in full accountability or reality.

I would encourage you to consider how you want to help AN. Based upon your submissions you appear to care deeply, you appear to spend time and energy considering what is best for AN, and you are able to conceptualize tasks that would be important for AN to complete if she is going to make a longer term recovery. What would happen if you let AN know you have concerns about F but trust her, since she has done so much in personal journey to date, to know if F is a help or a hurt? You may even ask her: “If I wanted to help you recover from your eating disorder, what would be the best thing for me to do?” If she cannot state a specific answer, you may turn the question around and inquire: “What have you come to realize already is not helpful to you right now?” The answer to that question may provide a hint as to how she perceives F. Finally, you may want to suggest that she have several key support persons go to a planning session with her, her therapist and nutritionist where they are “coached” on how to be the best recovery partner.

Keep us updated! And bless you for being such a conscientious friend.


See this visitor’s previous question “Friends Comments ‘Trivialize the Eating Disorder’