This blog post is something I asked a good friend, Catherine, to write for me. It made me cry, she’s so damn wonderful! I hope it’s a useful thing for you too.
Well hello there, guys. My name is Catherine (you may call me Cat) and I’ve known dear ol’ Rebekah for 7+ years now, and we’ve been friends for at least 5 of those, I’d say. She asked me a few days ago via facebook chat if I would write a post for this blog, “a friend’s perspective”, she said. So here it goes, this is how it went down for me.
It started with noticing a few subtle things – she had no lunch, she turned down the cake, she came to school with her gym clothes. Then it got a lot more obvious – I saw her Google ‘how many calories in a grape’ on her phone and then count out 6 from her bag and offer the rest to someone else, she would freak out when she couldn’t go to the gym one afternoon because she had to stay at a friend’s house, she never came to parties or out for coffee, in fact I barely saw her at all. I would catch her on, or she would link me to, certain websites, I’d see ‘NO’ written on her hand, watch her put her fingers around her wrist and ask me if I could do the same, she’d reach for our collarbones to see which one she could feel more.
Rebekah also started coming to me in tears, shaking in panic because she was ‘screwed up’ and ‘could not do anything right’ and had no idea how to get better. She would tell me about how much she just hated herself and that she just couldn’t do this anymore. Explain all the terrible things she was doing to her body, or at least I would hope that was all of them, knowing it’s really wasn’t.
It’s awful and not in any way easy. It is not easy to watch, powerless, as your friend destroys themselves physically, mentally and emotionally. It is also not easy to understand why they are doing it, why they just can’t stop, why they think those things about themselves when you think they’re great. But it’s happening and you try as much as you can to help because you love ‘em.
But you also feel completely lost. You have no idea how to stop them, help them, save them. You consider telling more people, but you know people already know (some tell you it can’t be that bad, she looks alright) and you talk it over with your other friends who’ve been receiving the hysterical midnight phone calls. You are all feeling pretty clueless. You decide just to be there for them, and keep listening. That’s what I did.
And then, as terrible as it was, after hours of talking it over with Rebekah and her not being able to listen and it continuing, I kind of just pretended it wasn’t happening at all. After all, she was the one isolating herself, it was easy to just let her. I thought she’d stopped caring about me, how could she have time, she was obsessed with herself (I don’t mean in a narcissistic way) and her body. It also made me wonder what she thought of me. If she thought she was fat, what was I? A whale? Some friend. But this whole time, I was also feeling overwhelmingly guilty, despite trying to justify it to myself, I knew I was wrong. Every time it came to attention I felt like the worst friend ever for ignoring it. Especially when it ended with her in hospital. But I didn’t know how to deal with it and it was hard.
Now, I’m sure some of you have a friend or a relative who suffered/is suffering from some form of eating disorder, in which case you might understand everything I’ve said. Chances are you might still have no answer to the question ‘how do I stop them?’ Honestly, I don’t think there is any way you can fix them. It’s impossible. They have to do it for themselves, and in order for that to happen, they are going to need some awesome friends to encourage them. It may start with actually forcing them to get some professional help, the help of adults who care for them like you do, and seeing it through, basically you will need some help to help them help themselves. If that makes sense. Also be sure not to think that it hasn’t worked after a couple of weeks, so maybe you should just give up. It’s going to take time, but once you get your friend back from the ED monster, it’s going to be oh so worth it.
Catherine! ❤ So much love for this lady, she’s been so patient and wonderful.
Love, Catherine & Rebekah.