During relationships, arguments and misunderstandings arise, among other circumstances that the couple must overcome. But sometimes the problems are more complex, and it is not so easy to find the solution.
In this article we’ll see a series of tips for those people who are wondering: “my girlfriend has bulimia: what should I do to help her? .
What is bulimia?
The first thing to do in these cases is to understand the situation you are dealing with and its effects on your partner’s mental (and by extension, physical) health. So let’s see what bulimia means to a person.
Bulimia nervosa is an eating disorder . The person affected by this mental disorder feels an irrational need to eat, and does so compulsively in short periods of time (binge eating), and then performs purging rituals.
What follows after the binge is the feeling of intense guilt, which leads the subject to want to undo the “damage” caused by having eaten in that way, and looks for a way to expel the food from his body . Induced vomiting is the alternative par excellence.
You have several ways to try to pass these foods, which may include the following:
- Voluntary induction of vomiting .
- Excessive intake of laxatives.
- Excessive intake of diuretics.
- Intense and excessive exercise (not necessarily resulting in vomiting).
This disorder is much more frequent in adolescents, and has a higher incidence in the female gender than in its male counterpart.
Now let’s see what the symptoms of bulimia are.
Symptoms of this eating disorder
The most noticeable symptoms of bulimia are easily evidenced by the close environment of the affected person , and are mainly related to mood and body weight. Let’s see what they are.
- Noticeable changes in body weight.
- Intense feelings of insecurity.
- Problems with self-esteem.
- Fear of the idea of gaining weight.
- Wearing away of the enamel on the teeth, caused by excessive vomiting
- Intense depressive states.
- Poor impulse control .
- Stomach problems.
- Irregular menstruation.
- Prolonged fatigue .
- Affective lability (rapid changes in mood).
- Body dysphoria (rejection by the body itself).
What do I do if my girlfriend has bulimia?
Now that we are clear about the concept of this disorder and its main symptoms, let’s look at how we can help our partner if he is experiencing bulimia nervosa .
Some tips to provide the best accompaniment and attention to your partner during this complicated situation are the following.
1. Knows the information about the disorder
It is essential that you educate yourself about this disorder with the intention of giving your partner the information he needs to understand that this is not appropriate behaviour .
The fact that you represent a support figure for her will make it more likely that she will listen and pay attention to you.
In addition, knowing more about the disorder will prevent you from becoming anxious about your girlfriend’s situation too , so you can help in the best way.
2. Tell family members
It’s really important that you let her family know what the situation is with her bulimia case, especially the parents, because they may not be aware, or may not have the necessary information about what’s going on with their daughter.
Most adolescents do not tend to tell their parents about uncomfortable situations, and considering the possible depressive picture that the subject may be presenting, this makes it even more complicated for them to want to talk to their relatives about it .
You, as her partner, should take the initiative to explain to her immediate family what the situation is, in addition to providing them with the information that you have drawn from to help your partner.
3. Demonstrates empathy for her
When you think about the idea of “my girlfriend has bulimia,” at first you may feel a certain isolation because you don’t understand the reasons that lead her to do that.
But empathy goes beyond the mere rational analysis of what makes a person behave the way they do, so strengthening the empathic bond and embodying this in your way of communicating with them will help you.
The situation your girlfriend is going through is not her fault ; it is a disorder she is currently suffering from. You should therefore avoid reproaching her, or saying things that discourage her even more, such as playing down what happens to her, for example.
Ideally, you should always try to put yourself in their shoes, to imagine how they must feel about being in that situation. From there, from the compression, is where you will get what you need to help her, always staying positive and empathic with her.
4. Seek professional help
It is absolutely essential to attend psychotherapy . If she needs it, you can go with her to show that you are really interested in her early improvement, which would be a source of support and motivation for your partner to get ahead.
Convincing her to have the assistance of a psychologist is one of the most important steps in helping her recover.
- Hay, P.J., Mond, J., Buttner, P., Darby, A. (2008). Eating Disorder Behaviors Are Increasing: Findings from Two Sequential Community Surveys in South Australia. PLOS ONE. 3 (2): e1541.
- Palmer, R. (2004). Bulimia nervosa: 25 years on. The British Journal of Psychiatry : the Journal of Mental Science 185 (6): 447-448.