In my sophomore year of college, I found myself close friends with a girl who was battling an eating disorder. She was glamorous and tall, but according to the death-look ideal (attempting to look extremely thin), she may have looked something a little more alive-like (nowhere close to looking fat).
As the year passed my other friends and I started to see changes in this glamorous girl. She began to cut down on food. She would make comments about how she wanted to eat healthier during meals at the school cafeteria. At first this was not all that alarming since the food was not ideal.
The next change was going out for treats. During test times a bunch of my friend and I would share treats such as cinnamon rolls and other foods that do not fit in the healthy food groups. We were all trying to make up for our lack of sleep or something like that with sugar. My close friend would have been the one to arrange such a treat the year before. But now she would not participate.
Our friend began running at least six miles a day. She lost weight so fast that it might have been hard to believe she was the same girl by the end of the year.
During the summer things were really difficult. Because my friend and I seemed to be the few people our age left in town that summer we spent a lot of time together. I began to realize there was an actual problem by the way it affected me.
I ran cross country in high school, so I enjoyed running for fun. I never thought about it as a weight loss program and I was never all that concerned if I could not find the time to run everyday. Her habits began to influence me. Running became a chore to stay thin instead of a fun activity. When we hung out together meals seemed to end up skipped or cut down to something like one piece of fruit. I began to feel guilty eating in front of my friend. She began to look ill and faded.
Decided to Seek Help
When we got back to college our junior year I decided to seek help. A woman at my church was teaching a class on God's perspective of His creation. It was targeted to women struggling with body image. She gave me some information about eating disorders and prayed with me to have the courage to confront my friend. Two of us went over to her apartment that night to tell her how concerned we were. The girl I was with even cried, but our friend denied her problem. Things did not change until we were all studying abroad.
I called home from France to find out that my friend was in the hospital with a broken hip. She had been jogging when she injured herself. She had to have surgery twice, once abroad and once at home. She never told me whether or not it had anything to do with bad eating habits.
Now she is healthy and beautiful again, but she has screws in her hips and her legs are slightly different lengths. I don't know if her eating disorder caused her injury but it is very possible.
Did I have any role in helping my friend become healthy again? I don't know but I sure hope my concern got her to thinking. I know it is important for me to have tried my best to help even if at the time, I came out of it feeling like my role was pointless.
"By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another" (John 13:35).