Out of frustration, I've decided to write him a list of "rules" or "instructions" and important points he needs to know about people who have eating disorders. If he wants to help me, he needs to do so with an understanding of the problem, not from a position of force-feeding me.
Beneath the cut, you will find the list that both myself and sinisteria have come up with thus far. We are looking for input as to what can be added to this list.
Bear in mind, this list is focussed mainly around people with anorexia or restrictive disorders. If you have suggestions for people who are dealing with purging disorders, by all means add them. Do not feel limited by what we have here. Also, please feel free to copy this list to your own loved ones or friends who may feel they want to support you. I intend this as a resource and as an activity, and possibly a learning experience.
1. Supporting someone is different than just telling them to eat.
2. Just because you allow someone to not eat, does not mean you are a bad friend. Allowing someone to not eat can help them to deal with whatever it is that's causing these feelings.
3. Rather than talking about why the person should eat, it is best to talk about why they are not eating.
4. a) Eating disorders rely heavily on control.
b) This control is not always rational or logical control as "healthy" or "normal" people have.
5. Telling someone to eat can challenge their feeling of control. They are less likely to eat when they feel forced.
6. Threatening to withhold things, such as conversation or friendship, will only trigger or challenge the person with an Eating Disorder. Oftentimes he or she will use your punishment as a means of triggering the starvation-punishment brought on by the eating disorder.
7. Pressure to eat breeds resentment. Resentment fuels the eating disorder further.
8. Recovery is a lengthy, expensive and scary process. It could take several attempts just to gather the awareness and courage to enter into recovery in the first place, and even then it would most likely result in being placed on a waiting list, with no payoff in the meantime.
9. Many people who have eating disorders have been ill for a very long time. Giving up or recovering from an eating disorder is like losing a best friend or a boyfriend. It is never easy.
10. Eating disorders are lifelong battles. Just like alcoholism or drug addiction, they never fully go away.
11. People with eating disorders will lie, cheat, manipulate, and steal in order to continue being ill. You may think you know when you are being tricked or lied to, but you do not.
12. Remember that people with eating disorders have skewed views of themselves. Commenting that they are beautiful or hot can be easily misinterpreted as fat or slutty. Never tell a person with an eating disorder that they look healthy.
13. People with eating disorders are masters of disguise. The weight they say they are is almost never the weight they really are. The weight they appear to be is almost never the weight they really are.
14. If you are going to try and make someone eat, be prepared to sit down and eat the exact same thing with them. Do not ask them how their food is, because "enjoying food" also equals "bad".
15. People with eating disorders are invariably extremely intelligent. Do not assume you can outsmart them.
16. People with eating disorders will sacrifice everything to be thin. Even friends and family are ultimately expendable.
17. What you see is only the tip of the iceberg. What you think you know is nothing compared to what is beneath the surface.
18. You may think you know a person who has an eating disorder. You will never truly know that person.