We know from experience that teenagers who struggle with eating and body issues do better when they talk to a professional with expertise in these matters, than when they just talk to a friend. Recovery from an eating disorder takes time and patience. Recovery takes a desire to get better. And, yes, asking for help takes a lot of courage.
RECOGNIZE IT IS NOT ABOUT THE FOOD OR WEIGHT
Although, on the surface, eating disorders seem to be about food, or weight, or about what size or shape someone is in, that’s not what eating disorders are all about.
Eating Disorders Happen for Lots of Reasons
One of the main reasons is that a person had to find some way to deal with their stress and feelings. Getting focused on food, or weight, or dieting is a way to not be focused on other stresses or uncomfortable feelings (and let’s face it, being a teenager offers lots of opportunity to have stress and uncomfortable feelings.)
A Focus on Food or Weight Won’t Help
So, simply trying to change the way a person deals with food and weight won’t change anything. Even if the person loses weight, he or she will still have to deal with those stresses and feelings. Changing how much a person does or doesn’t eat won’t change all the other things in life that may be troublesome or upsetting. As difficult as it is to face having an eating disorder, it may seem even more overwhelming to think about facing the other stuff that is underneath the eating disorder…all the uncomfortable feelings that keep the eating disorder in place, even when the person wants to stop it.
YOU DON’T HAVE TO DO THIS ALONE!
Ask For Help
Find an adult you can trust and who will support your efforts to get the help you need. Consider your parents, another relative, your school counselor or nurse, your pastor, rabbi, or youth minister, a teacher, maybe your medical doctor…any one of them might be a possibility, a person you could confide in.
Ask this adult to visit this website (or any others recommended on our Resources page) with or without you. The goal here is to tell someone else you are having a hard time and to start a dialogue about how to get some professional help for you.
Together, gather as much information as you can. Find out who the experts are in your community. Find a psychiatrist, or psychologist, a social worker or a counselor who specializes in working with Teenagers who have eating disorders. (Again, see our Resources page for treatment locaters.)
WHAT IF YOU SUSPECT A FRIEND HAS AN EATING DISORDER?
Find out all you can about eating disorders. Check out your concerns with others who know this person well. For great advice on how to approach someone you think has an eating disorder, visit www.edap.org.
NEED ADDITIONAL INFORMATION OR SUPPORT?
If you are under 18 years of age, and have any interest in our Teen Telephone Seminar Connection’s, “Why Can’t I Just Be Happy About the Way I Look?”, or are interested in working with a Teen Coach, please share this information with your parent(s). Parents may call us to discuss whether our services may be appropriate for you. Our phone number is (513) 321-4242.