Dieting and Eating Disorders:
“My friends think I have an eating disorder.”

Dear Annie,

My friends think that I have a problem. They think that I am bulimic cause I purge my food. I told them that I had it under control. Well, one of my friends or someone who knows about me throwing up went and told the guidance counselor at school about my situation. So one day he calls me into his office and he and the school nurse start talking to me about purging and how it can kill you or mess you up really bad. Well, while I was talking to them I asked if they were going to tell my parents. They told me that they wouldn't say anything until they saw me again before Christmas break. One day when my dad and the principal were talking he asked my dad how I was doing. And my dad didn't know what he was talking about. So he starts to tell him about what my school guidance counselor told him. So my dad comes home and tells my mom about it. So they get like really upset with me and start taking away my privileges. Well now all the teachers at my school know too and they look at me like I'm a bad person. I hate being treated this way. I don't know who I can trust. I have asked all of my friends if they were the ones who went and told. And they all say they didn't. I want to believe them but then I just get mad and start to cry. I don't know what to do. I still feel that I should continue to throw up my food. I weigh 96 lbs. and I feel so fat. I don't know who I can trust or who to turn to. I feel like I am alone. Please give me some advice.

Help

Dear Help,

I'm really glad you wrote to me. It shows that you want to change this situation. I understand that you don't like the way you are being treated. I agree with you. It is very insensitive. But let me tell you something, this isn't about which one of your friend "told." This is about your health and maybe your life. Your friends love you and they are worried about you. Your parents love you and they are very scared by what they heard. The guidance counselor and the school nurse should never have promised NOT to tell your parents. Your parents needed to know about your eating disorder immediately. Perhaps they are taking away your privileges in an attempt to keep an eye on you so that you won't purge any more. Maybe they think that you can decide to stop doing this any time you want. Maybe they just don't understand that girls with eating disorders die every day. You don't need punishments from your parents. You need help from a therapist you can trust who specializes in eating disorders. You and your parents need help.

Please, go back to the guidance counselor and tell him that you want to get help. That your parents don't seem to understand how very serious this condition is. Ask the guidance counselor to help. You are not a bad person. You have an eating disorder. You could die from this, but you can also get well.

Both you and your parents need to be educated about eating disorders. Here are three places to start:

EDreferral (Eating Disorder Referral and Information Center)

ANAD (National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders)

NEDA (National Eating Disorders Association)

Also, check out this section on The InSite on Eating Disorders.

You should also check out these very personal "Been There" stories about three young women just like you (Barbara, Vanessa, and Stephanie).

Please, do yourself (and your parents) a favor. Show them this letter and get the help you need.

I wish you well and please, let me know how you're doing.

In friendship,

Annie

Read teen letters about school problems here.

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