I’m sitting in a local bookstore waiting to tell a dear family friend that I’m pretty sure her daughter has anorexia. I don’t know if there is any way to describe how I’m feeling right now. Let me start at the beginning…
A couple of weeks ago my husband commented that one of his crew people, my friend’s daughter, recently came back from college and looked incredibly thin. Of course, living the life that we live we always tend to suspect ED. But knowing that, we try to second guess ourselves from jumping to unwarranted conclusions. So my husband observed this young woman for a couple of days. We’re pretty intimately involved with ED so when my husband saw this young woman take a salad (no chicken no dressing) and a water for lunch his suspicions grew worse. When he saw that said salad was later tossed away half eaten, well, 2 +2 = uh oh. He related all this to me and I told him I would talk with her.
I invited this young woman out for some coffee and had a little chat. To say that I sent to the chat a bit apprehensive would not be inaccurate. What if we were wrong and now we offended this girl? What if we were right and she lied…I have to say, praise to my merciful God that neither of these scenarios played out that way. She was very honest. She’s also in a lot of trouble. Of course I have no medical degree, so I can’t exactly diagnosis her, but at the very least she has some seriously eating disordered behavior and thoughts. Knowing the medical criteria for anorexia, however, I strongly suspect she is anorexic. She no longer has her period, has dropped 40+ pounds, consumes approximately 500 calories a day and fears her hair may be thinning. I didn’t think to check for lanugo hair, but I did look for a messed up forefinger indicating purging (didn’t really see any indication and she says that she’s not). And she is so so thin.
Two things have been haunting me since our meeting. 1) I know more than her mother does. I hate that. Its far too big a burden for someone else to carry without the parent knowing. But the young woman asked if I would help her talk to her mom, so I needed to carry on for a couple of days. And 2) I’m about to turn this family’s world upside down with the news that Eating Disorders have now invaded their lives. I don’t want to be the one telling them that! Moreover, I’m not a doctor! What if I’m completely wrong and way off base? What if I’m just paranoid because of what our family has been living with? But I’m not. At the very least, this beautiful girl has some seriously disordered thinking about food. *sigh*
Update: Well I talked with the mom. The daughter went to the doctor and advised her that it would be okay to go back to college and for her to visit a nutrition. I find that rather frightening. The one positive thing is that the mom and I are still friends. I guess that’s a selfish thing to consider huh?