By Agnes Jimenez
Too rarely do family members, friends and loved ones of a bulimic understand the nature of the disease they are fighting. Bulimia is a frightening and seemingly out of control problem that grips a person’s life and doesn’t seem to let go. It’s such that people have come to believe the adage, “Once a bulimic always a bulimic.” Thankfully, medical evidence has shown otherwise.
More than 80% of bulimics recover from the binge and purge cycle if their disease is caught and cared for during a person’s early stages. The teenage years are the most likely time for a person to adopt bulimic behaviors.
For the parents of a teen who is bulimic, it might be difficult to catch the behaviors as they are occurring. Bulimia Nervosa wears the cloak of secretiveness more than almost every other disease. Those who suffer from it are likely to hide it from everyone around them and only participate in the binge and purge cycle with no one is around to observe.
However, if the parent of a teen suspects that his or her child is struggling with bulimia there are ways to help without even confronting the direct issue. Parents need to know Bulimia is:
• A response to emotional stimulus
• A result of extreme-low self-esteem
• Dangerous to fatal if untreated
• Often provoked by sexual abuse
• An alternative to emotional confusion
• A control mechanism
• A behavior that is increased by the shame cycle.
With this knowledge about bulimia, parents, friends and loved ones of the bulimic may be able to help effectively.
Don’t Expose, Support:
However, with bulimia, medical professionals have discovered that they cannot wait for a bulimic to admit that he or she is powerless.
Because a bulimic suffers from extreme-low self-esteem, exposing him or her only results in further low self-esteem and greater risk for purging behavior. Exposing the bulimic also puts him or her at odds with the confronting individual. That individual is then unable to help the bulimic.
Instead, recognize that bulimia may manifest in depression. Parents and loved ones will be encouraged to know that by working with a teen who suffers from bulimia, as if the teen had only depression, they may succeed in helping the youth. Taking a genuine interest in getting the teen to workout, go to the gym, play sports, run, swim and enjoy the outdoors will help to curb depression, build self-esteem and erect a wall of defense against bulimic behaviors.
Friends and family members must also do the hard work of helping a teen with bulimia to discuss their emotions. In some cases sexual abuse issues will arise and parents will need to call on professionals for counseling. In other cases, help with teen depression is as easy as modeling healthy emotions. Labeling emotions is extremely helpful for a teen that is confused by anger, shame, sadness, and bitterness.
As a bottom line, working with a child who has bulimia is difficult and may see no results for a long time. Patience is the key. No one should try to motivate bulimics with shame or direct confrontation. Support, love and encouragement are necessary. Understanding is the key to helping.
– Agnes Jimenez is a professional blogger and writer. She writes for many online establishments and currently partners with HelpYourTeenNow.com in spreading awareness about troubled and depressed teenagers (and how to deal with them). Help Your Teen Now aims to increase awareness on the current psychological and societal stresses of today’s teens and how these factors affect the future of our society.