It started with her eating less and pushing food around on her plate at lunch. Then she started skipping lunch altogether, telling our group that she had to study or needed to catch up on her homework. Something just wasn’t right.
She began looking a little thinner, but nothing to be concerned about. People would ask if she lost weight, which would make her entire day. But to her friends, it was concerning.
Suddenly, she was skipping class or stopped coming to school altogether. When she did show up, she was wearing huge sweatshirts and jackets even when it was hot out. She wouldn’t return phone calls and would lash out when I asked what was going on with her. I knew I had to do something about it.
I went to my school’s guidance counselor to ask what I should do. I explained that my friend had been skipping lunch and was looking less than healthy. The counselor told me that unfortunately, the only thing I could do was to just be there for her. She said if I was really that concerned, then I should talk to her parents but that I should be prepared that my friend probably would blame me.
It turned out that another friend had already tried that. And her parents, unfortunately, were in complete denial about the whole thing. They ended up confronting her, but she freaked out. When she found out that we had brought it to their attention, she abandoned us as her friends even though we were trying to help.
A few weeks later, my friend ended up being taken to the hospital because her body was rejecting food. She was sent to rehab for pretty much the remainder of the school year. As hard as it was to see what happened to her, we were all so glad that she was getting the help she needed.
She made it through and now she’s back to her healthy self. Our friendship, however, didn’t quite make it. Every time I’ve seen her since then, we’re cordial and nice to each other. But we’re not friends anymore. It hurts because as her friends, we wanted to help her. I wish that our friendship had survived, but I’m so glad that she’s healthy and thriving. She seems really happy, and that’s honestly all I can ask for.
Have you ever had a friend who struggled with an eating disorder or addiction? What did you do? Tell us in the comments!
This post is written in partnership with Simon & Schuster and Letting Ana Go.