Dear Kallos: My Friend Was Recently Diagnosed With Anorexia; What Should I Do?

My family friend was recently diagnosed with anorexia. She also has depression, struggles with anxiety, and self-harms. Her mum has cried many times because she is not trying to recover. She is a Christian, but I don’t know how to help her when she doesn’t seem to want to improve — we all are praying for her to at least try harder to recover. I hope that you can tell me what advice to give her so that I can encourage her.  — Overwhelmed & Helpless

dear Overwhelmed & Helpless,

We are so sorry to hear of the pain your friend is going through. We want to affirm you in your love for your friend and wanting to be there for her. Don’t give up on her but keep at what you are doing! Your friend needs you at this time even if her actions and words do not always show it.

The conditions your friend faces do not usually go away in the short term, but with a doctor’s help, they can be managed through counselling and medication. Sometimes, when emotional pain becomes too much for us to handle, we take it out on ourselves through self-harm. I have not cut myself before, but I have had the temptation to do so. The emotional pain was so great that I felt that inflicting physical pain on myself would bring some sort of relief in a very twisted sort of way. As a friend, keep encouraging her to give the doctor a chance, reminding her that the doctor is there to make things better for her. Affirm her worth and gently encourage her to see how serious these conditions are when not dealt with. Doctors are also part of God’s way of healing us. Your constant encouragement in her life may just be the key to the turning point in this rut.

Perhaps she may also feel that no one understands what she is going through and like it is a dead end for her. Thus, she doesn’t cherish her life. Since she is also a Christian, maybe you could send her notes and texts with Bible verses to encourage her to see her worth in God. If she is unwilling to hear directly from the word of God at this time, share with her your own reflections from Scripture. You could tell her that she is beautiful, fearfully and wonderfully made; let her know that God loves her, understands what she is going through, and is walking this journey with her (Psa 139, 121; Rom 8:31–39).

Most importantly, be that friend that she can lean on when she doesn’t have the strength to carry on. Let her lean on your faith to hope for what she can’t imagine; let her lean on your belief that Jesus can and will resurrect what seems long dead.

Even though things may look bleak, know that God has not forsaken your friend in any way. He feels the pain that she feels. He is a God of comfort and unending love. He is a God who saves. Keep your trust rooted in Him as you seek to help your friend. Your friend is blessed to have such a good friend in you!

Alina Teo
I am a mother of two littles. Some things that I love — vintage florals, mountains, cooking, sewing and writing. I have a heart for the broken and I take comfort in knowing that Christ can be our hope.