My Friend Had Anorexia And This Is What Happened

When I was in high school, I had a very good friend that started to disappear before my eyes. At first, none of us really noticed. Or maybe we did, but we were too afraid to say anything.

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.

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  • Kim

    What you did for your friend is so touching! And the fact that you are not mad at her for going away is amazing. You are such a good friend.
    My story has to do with me trying to fight a girl in order for her to admit that she lies about eating and that she doesn’t have an eating disorder. That sounds harsh I know. The girl is my boyfriend’s sister. She had been an anorexic when she was 14 years old. She almost dies. At the hospital she would put rocks in her pockets to get out. She is now 21 and is really really skinny. She does not pass out. And nobody can tell if she eats or not because she is grown up and you cannot control eveyhing she does. That is not the way to solve a problem anyway. So she would remark EVERYTHING she eats. Lying has become part of her personality! Her mother is underweight as well. Uses laxatives and doesnt eat. My boyfriend does not realize and the father seems incoherent. The girl have not recovered psychologically that is obvious.
    This year she had an operation done on her heart. And now she needs to get another one.
    I feel that she is not my friend and that it is not my business or for me to care at all. But i wish she was fine, healthy and happy. I want my boyfriend to be happy.
    So that is about it. I could go on and on talking about how she lies and the things I see. She says that at 14 she DID eat but dropped down to 35 kg because she was stressful, says that eats a lot, that she has always been thin, that she gets thin when she is sad but does eat, that her heart probs are genetic, that eats when no one sees her. I sometimes hate her for lying in my face when no one even asked her. Like: “hi! I just ate a chocolate.” It is annoying and that is why I would get mad at first. Now that I searched for more information I feel compassionate.
    I have been trying to open my boyfriend’s eyes and telling advice on how to deal with her. She is just a good liar and I am sure she will be 50 and still underweight like her mom.
    Not even her family realizes she is not healthy. Should I intervine?

  • Torquile Dragonreaper

    That is amazing. I have an eating disorder that has recently started to get serious- I just can’t seem to eat whatsoever- like something makes me sick whenever I see food.

    I am so happy there are people like you in the world- you are the people who make everybody’s life worthwhile. I hope I get to be half as good as you. Thank you.

  • Carol @ It’s Baby Time

    I had an ED 15 years ago and at the time it was like my mind was being control by something else. I had control over my weight but I was out of control. People tried to tell me that I was too skinny but I couldn’t see it. I eventually woke up my realizing how weak I was when I started going to the gym and couldn’t lift the bar. You did the right thing and I am sorry you lost your friend because of it but if you were my friend I would love you for caring that much for me to help me. Friends like that are so hard to find!

  • Karen

    Thank you. A couple years ago I had disordered eating which is one step before having a full blown eating disorder. Sometimes I was in denial but other times I could tell what I was doing which fortunately was part of what prevented me from getting worse. However I was desperate sometime for someone to say anything or do something to try and stop me because I couldn’t stop myself. Thank you for doing the right thing when so many people try to avoid the awkwardness and potential backlash.

  • Claire

    I, too, had a girlfriend who had and still has severe bulimia. I lived with her for my freshman year of college. I grew up with a bulimic mother, and as such I was more aware or the symptoms. She made excuses for every meal, and after two years of friendship I’ve only seen her eat a handful of meals.

    We ended the year as good friends, but there were times during the year that I couldn’t help but be distant, when she would use our bathroom to throw up, and walk out as if nothing had happened. I talked to our house proctor, and they talked to her and told me everything seemed normal, that she was Latin and so she ate at different times than we did. But again, I grew up with a bulimic mother, who told everyone a similar excuse. Even if she ate at different times, I would’ve seen her eat within the YEAR I lived in the same room as her. And as much as I tried telling myself the noises I heard weren’t her throwing up, nobody’s peeing sounds like buckets of water being thrown in the toilet.

    The issue is that we get along really well. As such, when my brother got married this spring, I took her as my date. For the first time, we ate meals together, and I wondered why I felt so much more connected to her during that trip, and then I realized it’s because it was the first time in two years that we’d ever eaten together. But then we went to the ladies room, and with feet towards the toilet she rejected it from her body. I was so hurt that she would do it with me standing right there, knowing I wouldn’t say anything. Again I became distant.

    To this day I haven’t said anything. I tore myself up as a teen trying to get my mother to change, and she never did, to the point we haven’t seen eachother in over 5 years. I can’t help but tell myself its not worth it after that, and that I don’t want to destroy our friendship. I know she’d deny it, and seeing as its a disease built on lying, I know she would come up with something that would make even me question if I had it right.

    I’m really glad to read that you approached your friend. As someone who is currently dealing with a similar friend, I wish I could do it too.

    • athenagoddess

      wow. that is a really touching story. I freaked out the other day cause I just havent been eating, and every time I try to eat, I cant eat as much as I used to.

  • helpmebelieveme

    *Standing ovation* Honestly I would of never had the guts to do that!