Friendships are an essential part of our lives, especially during our teenage years. We often rely on our friends for support and comfort during difficult times.
However, when one of our friends is struggling with their mental health, it can be challenging to know how to help.
Body dysmorphia and eating disorders are real mental health conditions that can significantly impact a person’s life.
For many people, these conditions can trigger an intense preoccupation with one’s perceived flaws, leading to anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues.
Unfortunately, many individuals often suffer in silence, unable to cope with the difficulties of living with body image disorders every day.
One Reddit user recently shared her predicament about her friend M, who had struggled with body image issues for many years.
The user and M were friends for many years until they had a falling out, which resulted in them losing touch for some time. However, when they reconnected, M was an entirely different person, her body had changed significantly.
The user could tell that M was struggling, and her body image had worsened.
Despite being underweight, M continued to criticise her body, and the user found it challenging to know how to respond.
Even after a professional photo shoot, M refused to let the user post the photos, citing concerns that her proportions looked weird.
Sadly, this predicament is not unfamiliar to anyone who has dealt with body dysmorphia or eating disorders.
These conditions make it difficult for individuals to see themselves accurately and can lead to a vicious cycle of self-criticism, self-harm, and an unhealthy relationship with food.
The user also shared that they had personally struggled with self-harm and eating disorders in the past.
“I've personally struggled with eating disorders and self-harm a lot throughout ages around 12-14 and I had to really push myself to recover and take the correct meds etc, during these past few years I've never had any urges to self-harm or restrict calories, etc. until recently,” wrote the Reddit user.
Hearing M speak about her body image in such negative terms, even after losing a significant amount of weight, caused the user to have negative feelings about her own body. The user expressed concern that M didn't seem to be open to hearing their perspective, and their friendship is suffering as a result.
My main takeaway from this, and perhaps some can relate to this, is that while you can still be there for your friends, you ultimately need to put your needs first.
It’s okay to take a step back if you are around a situation or anyone that makes you feel uncomfortable.
The most considerate thing you can do for anyone is to gently remind them that you will be there for them, but they should also be aware that occasionally, whether on purpose or not, their actions can also make other people upset.
However, it’s up to M to seek professional help and work on her issues.
It's essential to remember that we can't “fix” our friends’ problems.
We can support them and encourage them to seek help, but ultimately, it’s up to them to take the necessary steps to improve their mental health.
Body dysmorphia and eating disorders affect millions of people worldwide, and it's crucial to seek help if you or someone you know is struggling with these conditions.
Seeking help from a mental health professional or support group can provide an individual with the tools to cope with their mental health issues, and help them build a positive relationship with their body.
Read the latest issue of IOL Health digital magazine here.