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Bulimic Flatmate

Ok, so one of my new flatmates is bulimic. She hasn't announced this to us but the other flatmate told me and also I've seen 'remnants' after a meal.

Basically, she stuffs herself with crap (pizza, chips, chocolate etc.) then will go and hurl it all up again. She has got a great figure and doesn't seem depressed or withdrawl at all.

Now the question I wanted to ask is do I say something or not? I don't really know her well enough to guage what the resultant reply will be (have only lived here about 8 weeks now).

Normally, I'd stay clear of this as it's not really any of my business. Indeed, the flatmate who told me has strongly advised me not to say anything. Perhaps I know how she would feel - it would probably be like her having a chat about the dangers of smoking to me, and I can tell you - I wouldn't appreciate it. However, I almost feel a moral compunction to say something, as what she's doing cannot be good for her.

T'anks for reading, would like to know your thoughts.
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Comments

  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    I guess if it was me, i might approach it like 'if you ever need anyone to talk to about it, i'm here' kinda thing?
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    i wouldnt mention it
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    i wouldnt mention it

    I wouldn't, either.

    It's not good for her, and she'll know it's not, but the issues at play here are so much deeper and more fragile that I think it'd probably do more harm than good to say anything to her at the moment.

    Unfortunately you can't save people from themselves.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    I definitely wouldn't raise it. Unless you're looking to make your living situation extremely strained and uncomfortable.

    To be honest, I would have to think long and hard about raising this with someone I'd been best friends with for years, but with a girl I barely knew and had lived with eight weeks, I wouldn't even consider it.

    As Olive says, you can't save people from themselves, and it's really none of your business. She's not yours to save. Perhaps at some point she'll look for help for it, and if she ever raises it with you then you can be there for her. But as you rightly point out, you wouldn't appreciate a lecture on the dangers of smoking, and I'm pretty sure she won't appreciate your intervention in this either.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    I wouldn't say anything straight to her face... Unless the kind of situation arises where it seems appropriate, although I can't really see that happening.

    However... If possible maybe hint that you know something's up? Just so that if she does want to talk to someone about it she has the in-road there...

    I dunno, it's a tricky on cos it totally depends on the person really.
    Play it by ear.
    But don't mention anything unless you feel really sure about it.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Lu_C wrote: »
    I wouldn't say anything straight to her face... Unless the kind of situation arises where it seems appropriate, although I can't really see that happening.

    However... If possible maybe hint that you know something's up? Just so that if she does want to talk to someone about it she has the in-road there...

    I dunno, it's a tricky on cos it totally depends on the person really.
    Play it by ear.
    But don't mention anything unless you feel really sure about it.

    1up
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    How do you know she makes herself sick? I know there are loads of ways to know, but you don't say so it could just be that she eats crap a lot.

    But, as the others have said, don't mention it. I've always relied on my flatmates not finding out / not saying anything because I have enough guilt about it as it is without feeling like I'm making the living situ strained.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    I wouldnt say anything. Not yet. I think you need to hold off for a bit.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    If it was ME I would phone NHS direct and ask them for advice on the best course of action. Or there might even be one of these phone lines for friends etc. of someone who suffers and so they might be best placed to tell you the most appropriate thing to do.

    Bear in mind that eating disorders are the most dangerous mental health issues if i recall correctly so not something to be ignored / taken lightly. I think respecting their privacy is secondary to respecting their life. That doesn't mean you have to be interventionist at all, just what I would do personally is ask groups involved what the best course of action would be.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    http://www.something-fishy.org/helping/whatyoucando.php
    Keep in mind how serious Eating Disorders are and that they can kill.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    i wouldn't say anything.

    in my first year of uni, i was abusing laxatives and was self harming. my flatmates found out about this via this website.

    i found them approaching me made me feel absolutely dreadful and i found myself hiding away from them because i was so ashamed they'd found out my secret.

    i just wouldn't mention it. it can do more harm than good.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Good Advice ShyBoy *thumbsup*
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Don't just bring it up out of the blue, but if there is a time where you think it would be appropriate, perhaps just ask if she's ok and if she needs to chat about anything. I disagree with ShyBoy, unless you want her to hate you, you need to respect her privacy. Yes, it's dangerous, but until it gets to the point where it's a life-or-death thing (which it doesn't sound like it is right now) her privacy is important, particularly as you don't know her very well and it could make both of your lives awkward. How do you know she's throwing it up?

    I think the main thing you can do is make sure she knows you're around if she needs to chat. If she wants to, she will open up to you, but don't be offended if she doesn't because she will probably go to her closest friends with this first.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    What I'm saying Franki is not to go in there and ask her questions and such, but the typical perhaps British response is to ignore MH issues like this, because it's too uncomfortable to bring them up in conversation. But I think ignoring the problem and just pretending it isn't there can in a way condone the problem, accept the problem, and allow it to get to a much more dangerous stage.

    As you and others have said, being there to support the person can make all the difference. The website I linked to in fact said that:
    Keep in mind there isn't a lot you can do overall, as an "outsider" to a close family member or friend suffering from an Eating Disorder. It is up to the individual suffering to decide they are ready to deal with the emotional issues in their life that have lead them to their Eating Disorder. They need to make a choice for recovery and to want to do the work to get there. There is no one in their lives that can make this choice for them, they must want to do it for themselves.
    The sufferers of Eating Disorders can do better in their own recovery with a good support network behind them... consider it this way -- don't we all do better in life when we know we have people we can count on? Learn to be a good listener and what "being there" for someone truly means.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    When I had a problem with self harm, I did appreciate having someone outside my close group of friends offering to help me. I was incredibly embarassed at first, and probably more than a little resentful and rude to her. I had only known her for 3 months or so at the time, but I did eventually realise that the person was just worried about me, and not forcing me to talk just offering to listen if I need to.

    Having said that, every situation is different, and living with the girl complicates things as you won't be able to give her space if she needs it.

    If you didn't want to just dive in there and confront her maybe broach it by introducing a third person into the 'conversation' e.g. 'my friend just told me that she's going through a difficult time at the moment... I don't know what she want's me to do. What would YOU do?' That way you leave the ball in her court by offering a (potentially) common problem shared between you and your 'friend'. She will also hopefully let you know more about if she would appreciate a friendly ear. If she wants she can talk to you, if not then at least you gave her the opportunity
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    One of the reasons I said not to ignore is after reading Lss Of Innocence - Ron & Carren Clem about a girl who falls into prostitution and meth addiction, is that even when she didn't want them to know about her 'dirty secret' she wrote a secret letter later on saying she needs their help even though she can't ask for it and will even resist it.

    Now that's different I'm sure but to me it made me think about these problems and even if it is innappropriate to intervene imo it is more innappropriate to act like it's not there.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    prostitution and crystal meth addiction is not even in the same league as bulimia
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Based on what you put Thunderstruck, I wouldn't raise the issue with her. 8 weeks living with someone isn't really that long in the grand scheme of things, and you don't know for sure if she does have an eating disorder or that she isn't already in the process of getting some sort of help.

    It's a very difficult position to be put in, I'm in a similar situation with a relative and you feel compelled to do something, but in my own situation, whenever family members have very delicately tried to approach the subject, it results in a great deal of upset, and then said relative not eating at all for days.

    Do you know any friends of hers? If you don't want to let it lie, then it might be worth having a chat with someone a bit closer to her.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Thanks for your answers guys. I'll stick with my initial feeling which was say nothing, though I still do feel a bit of a moral duty to intervene, but, as most have you have said, it's really not my business.

    I guess she's the only one who can decide when she needs help with it as and when she decides to stop it. I know how I'd feel if someone came and told me the dangers of smoking and offered to help me stop; I'll stop when I'm good and ready.

    Personally, my major beef with it, is that now when I cook for her, I feel slightly offended that she's telling me it's nice and all that, and then bringing it up straight away.

    You can probably tell I have no idea of the psychology involved and frankly, I don't really want to.

    Thanks people.

    IWS: No I don't sadly, though I've met some of her friends, and to be honest, whilst I'm sure they're all lovely people, they're fully paid-up members of the Chelsea / King's Road WAG club and have a communal brain cell between them. I imagine they might well be all at it, but hey, who am I to judge?
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    prostitution and crystal meth addiction is not even in the same league as bulimia

    You are completely missing my point. That book raised to me the danger of people not wanting to put their nose in other people's business - almost like the bystander effect in a way. Which is why I said if it was me I would ask a professional like NHS direct or some other source like the link I posted what an 'outsider' should do. Rather than just pretend it's not happening. Because, that could end up if everyone followed that advice (and imagine how many people will google this for advice) with people without that 'good support network' that could help them recover as per something-fishy.org.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Although I'm pretty sure you'll find that most of the advice says there's nothing you can do other than be there when she decides she wants to change.

    Thunder, she's not bringing it up because it's not nice, in fact, if she's gobbling the lot then it's a pretty good indication that it's very nice. People with eating problems don't tend to both binging on something they don't like. I realise it's a kind of backhanded complement in a way, but it's got nowt to do with your cooking.

    (That said, cooking deliberately icky meals won't help)
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru

    Thunder, she's not bringing it up because it's not nice, in fact, if she's gobbling the lot then it's a pretty good indication that it's very nice. People with eating problems don't tend to both binging on something they don't like. I realise it's a kind of backhanded complement in a way, but it's got nowt to do with your cooking.
    :yes:
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    And if you want one of the best websites for information and advice around, as well as a damn good helpline www.b-eat.co.uk

    Helpline is fab if she ever wants it, or if you want to get some advice about sharing a house with someone with an eating disorder. There's even a bit about housemates (although its kind of aimed at freshers), it's currently got a dodgy link on the page, but the search box finds everything.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    I wouldn't approach her without hard evidence that she is bulimic, cause being accused of having an eating disorder is offensive, even when you do have one.

    Also, if she purges regularly this can cause severe damage to her heart etc. so maybe you could leave an anonymos note with a helpline number or something?
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    db3 wrote: »
    Also, if she purges regularly this can cause severe damage to her heart etc. so maybe you could leave an anonymos note with a helpline number or something?
    Tricky, that's still acknowledging it. I know that would make me very uncomfortable. But everyone is different, and perhaps there is an argument for forcing her to face the fact that she has an issue, but it's a risk.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    ShyBoy wrote: »
    Now that's different I'm sure but to me it made me think about these problems and even if it is innappropriate to intervene imo it is more innappropriate to act like it's not there.

    I disagree. And saying nothing is not the same as acting like nothing's wrong. If this girl told the OP that she had a problem, or asked for help, my advice would be different. But I think at the moment it would cause more harm than good.

    The links you posted were about how a close friend or family member could support someone with an ED - presumably someone who they already knew had one. That's miles away from confronting someone you've known a couple of months.

    One of the primary factors in all EDs is secrecy and denial. If you confront her, she'll most likely carry on doing it, but just start lying about if to get you off her back, and you'll have lost all chance of being able to monitor the situation and/or help her in the future when she decides it's time to change.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    ShyBoy wrote: »
    it is innappropriate to intervene imo it is more innappropriate to act like it's not there.

    My God, you really are special, aren't you?

    As any fule kno, secrecy and denial are very closely linked with EDs. People with EDs will clam up even with people they know and trust very well. A flatmate that they've known eight weeks will not get anything from them, but will have lost any chance of ever getting their trust and being able to help productively.

    It's none of Thunderstruck's business. That's not meant in a harsh way, he's right to be worried and to want to do something, but he can't.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Kermit wrote: »
    My God, you really are special, aren't you?

    That's a bit harsh.

    Yes, as most people have said one of the things some people with EDs often do is try to hide things from those around them. However, to say that we should assume that the same can be true for every situation is wrong.

    As I mentioned above, I appreciated someone who I didn't know that well confronting me about my problem. It showed me that there was someone who wasn't going to judge me but was willing to offer me support and that is invaluable. Yes, I did find it uncomfortable at first, but I opened up much quicker to her than I would have done to my closer friends/family. Maybe I'm unusual in that respect, but I wasn't actively seeking help when she confronted me about it and I was annoyed for a while, but this was more from realising that someone who barely knew me realised I had a problem, so what on earth must my close friends have thought of me?

    However, as I said not everyone is the same and it may well be that this girl does not want to change yet or won't appreciate the help from someone who is just an acquaintance. However, testing the water, in a neutral kind of way like I suggested above could well work
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    I think Kermit might have a point though in that a lot of the time when people feel 'compelled' to help someone in a situation like this, it's more about making themselves feel good and special and needed than it is about helping the individual affected (though I'm not saying that's what going on in Thunderstruck's case).

    I had an anorexic friend once and I tried to support her and help her get better, but looking back my motives were pretty dodgy. I wanted to feel like I could save her, like I was important and special and talented enough to make a difference. But all that happened was it drained the energy out of me, I worked really hard and gave everything I could to try to help, but she didn't want to get better, she wasn't at that point really trying. Then when I eventually ran out of patience and energy, she moved on to someone else who would listen and support her and encourage her incessantly, and they repeated all the things I had said, and she still didn't listen.

    The point is, when people want to get better and need help, a lot of the time they'll ask for it. But if you find you have an overwhelming urge to interfere where it's not your business, and justify that by saying you feel you have a moral responsibility to help, then maybe you should stop for a second and examine your own motivations.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Kermit wrote: »
    My God, you really are special, aren't you?

    Probably

    But anyway, my point was if you read above, if it was me, at the first 'gate' when I found out someone I knew was suffering with something like this, I would look up some professional advice. Like Scary Monster said, most of the advice would say to say nothing.

    And as I pointed out as well, I am not advocating intervention of any kind either. Just people seem to want to argue with me saying I would ask someone who is qualified rather than people on a forum on what is the best course of action. Because like I said eating disorders are dangerous, and if it was ME I would not want to do the wrong thing.

    Not being a specialist on Eating Disorders myself, I would ask a professional. I don't see what is so objectionable about that. I also said I don't think we should pretend we don't know - how many times have you seen something dodgy but pretended you didn't see it because it wasn't your business? Lots, probably. We all do. But in certain circumstances that is dangerous and I think this is one of them. But just like if I suspected domestic abuse I wouldn't go barging in, I would ASK A PROFESSIONAL who KNOWS the best way to deal with a situation, rather than pretend I didn't see it.

    Jamelia - the motive should be not that you want to make yourself feel good, but rather that whether you wanted to or not you have been made aware to a potentially life threatening illness and with the stakes that high you can't afford to make a mistake in handling it whether that's by avoiding the subject of food altogether or whatever. In some situations with some illnesses there is definitely a right way and a wrong way of dealing with it, and the best people to know would be someone who deals with this kind of thing.
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