Somerset and Wessex Eating Disorders Association
"Serving those affected by eating disorders"
What to do when you live housemate who has an eating disorder
It can be very difficult and exhausting to support a friend house an eating disorder you your friend may have told you that they have an eating disorder or you may be worried because they have a strange patterns around food appear very isolated find hard to eat or join in with other people and are very obsessed with their body or fitness
There are the various forms of eating disorders.
Information about these eating disorders can be found on the website www.swedauk.org
People may have a high level of perfectionism that drives them so nothing is ever good enough, they may carry a very low self esteem and not value themselves and feel not worth getting better for, they carry a high level of shame and guilt for hwta others about them go through, they may have poor sleep patterns and big mood changes, they may self harm in other ways.
Being at university can be hard for everyone and is a time where you are away from home and wanting to have and gain new experiences. If one of your housemate has an eating disorder this can have a serious impact on your lifestyle. It is important that you are able to put some very clear boundaries in place. This may seem tough but your housemate will appreciate knowing where they stand. It will not be an easy time and putting boundaries in place when you housemate are struggling will be hard and painful. If not do this it is possible that your housemate eating disorder will encroach on your life you fun and your studying.
It is important to be a good friend. Sometimes it is hard to know how to be a good friend when it was like you I've rejected you never get anything rights whatever you do is wrong and then maybe you think why should I bother?
Sometimes people try to be very nice and very helpful. They tried to talk about how was your day, had you sleep, how you feeling, would you like to come out and general questions that one might ask any friend. However a person has an eating disorder and is managing a lot of internal criticism within will not be able to see this as friendly but rather as intrusive, interfering, invading in their privacy and may become very angry and shut you out. On the other hand if you do not ask any questions do not seem interested do not invite them to join you they may feel that you don't care.
If things become difficult in your house, do not try and manage everything on your own, you may be able to meet as a house and see how everybody is finding like the home. This could be tricky because the person may feel attacked. It may be that you want to ask in the university if you could speak to a college counsellor all welfare student adviser. These people may be able to help you decide what you need to do that you so that you can enjoy your time at Uni. You may want to look up on the website www.home.btconnect.com/18-25 where you may find ideas suggestions comments from other housemate on the message board and you can e-mail the project for support.
It is important to know that eating disorders are not just about body weight or eating or not eating they are a complex form of psychological disorder. The disorder built up over a series of years and has many causes. You will cannot make an eating disorder go away you are not responsible for this person or other food they eat the safety not feel that if someone is an eating eight or not eating that you are responsible until someone is at a place that they are ready to look for support and to make changes in their life was nobody however skilled however lovely can make them change. If one of your college mates has come back from their holiday or from treatment and appeared to have gained weight do not think that is the end of eating disorder. Very often in the someone has gained weight they are struggling even more excepting then you body size shape and feelings within themselves. These feelings surface more when someone has found or is finding recovery because their eating disorder no longer numbers away the inner pain and feel them with food obsessed thoughts. It may well be in this place that your friend will need you even more and will want to support although they may not be able to ask you for it.
Typical things you may notice of the person are isolation in their room own watching TV alone eating their food in their room not coming out will be others not being able to be in a roomful of people. If you your support and understanding can be in valuable if you are able to help them by inviting them to come you to small social things ought to go out just to a few people together this may help of their confidence self belief and self-esteem. You may also say to them when you are going shopping and invite them to come you remember again you are not responsible for the food they buy although they do with it. But sometimes it is very very difficult to take yourself out and buy food and know what to buy you are recovering on your eating disorder. The person may feel ashamed of buying food feel they are not worth the food or worth spending their money. You may notice that this person if very different outside the house with their course colleagues than they are you. This can be very hurtful because you are person but has been decide them through all the struggles at night and in the day you have witnessed their struggles steady and concentrate their difficult to think he or the amounts of food they eat and then throw up. This is something called the private and public self. The private self which you made partly see is usually kept in the internal world so that nobody sees. The person may be embarrassed and ashamed that you know this side or part of this side of them. Remember an expression of people we loved the most we heard the most. It is not okay anybody hurts you but it is really not intentional it is like a defence where someone becomes afraid of what you know. So looking after yourself and finding support of yourself is vitally important because it can be very upsetting to continually get things wrong. Then you may see this person behave very differently with other people. It can help to know that this is a defence to keep away from their internal struggles, people that they do not trust, people that they desperately want to like them and to value them because they cannot do this themselves. They may be afraid that these people will not like and will rejected them if they knew the person that you know. It is almost as if they are to people and this is where you seem to lose your friends to the eating disorder where it is anorexia bulimia or another eating disorder.
Remember having an eating disorder is not like having a broken leg, you cannot see by the plaster what hurts, you cannot tell when the plaster comes off that the leg is mended, and it is not an isolated incident that breaks a leg that creates and Eating Disorder but many years, on months of psychological build up, so someone did not get an eating disorder in a day it will not go away in a day.
Some tips students wrote about supporting people will eating disorders are
© 2004 ~ 2013 Somerset and Wessex Eating Disorders Association