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Bulimia/Eating Disorders/How to help neighbor that we suspect is buimic


We live on the first floor of a three-story apartment building.  The man who lives above us is in his early-mid 20s, and we suspect he has bulimia.  We don't know him well at all, but have run into him in passing through the parking lot, taking our dogs out, etc.  He is thin, but does not look unhealthy.  

He moved in about a year ago, and occasionally, we would hear him vomiting (our walls are not very thin.  We hardly ever heard the man who lived upstairs before him).  At first, we couldn't really tell if he was just coughing/hacking loudly or vomiting, but it happened so sporadically that it wasn't an issue.  

Since early December, this behavior has become a daily occurrence, particularly at night or in the very early hours of the morning.  Sometimes we can here it multiple times a day.  There is no question that he is vomiting.  He was so loud at 4:00 in the morning today that it woke me up.  Not only is this disturbing to listen to all throughout the day, we are concerned about our neighbor's health.  As I mentioned, we don't really know him, so confronting him about this would probably be uncomfortable.  We also are not 100% certain that it is a case of bulimia, as I'm sure any number of illnesses or medications could be making him vomit.

Just seeking advice on how to handle the situation.  Any help would be appreciated!

Wow.. Thats a tough situation,
Have you noticed his shopping habits at all? Most bulimics will tend to grocery shop alot for their size. Does he have many friends or family visiting? as as a bulimic I am very reclusive. I seldom go out and don't socialize much. I dont think confrontation is the way either because you have no real social understanding of one another. However, why not start a passing dialog? Small steps ..get to know his name, establish a friendship. If he is bulimic he may be choosing late night binges because he thinks no one will hear him. Also try To figure out (by the sounds of his footsteps) if he is spending time in the kitchen prior to the may have to pull a couple late nighters to figure this may be that he has severe gurd (as I do) Last night I threw up around 2am, simply due to acid coming up my throat... or some other medical condition. But I think the best course of action is to get to know him, that way one day soon when you hear him vomiting you will feel confident enough to go upstairs, rap gently on the door and offer " I couldn't sleep and overheard you being there anything I can do?" He very well may say what the trouble is.
I can tell even though your strangers right now that you care a great deal and are willing to reach out. I think that you suspicions may be right, but in order to help a bulimic they will have to trust you, and that takes time, honesty and friendship.

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Dawn McNamara


I have experience in most major forms of eating disorders. I have dealt with anorexia and bulimia for more than 25 years from a personal level. I am able to assist with signs and symptoms of eating disorders, as well as educating the public as to the dangers, both long and short term. My expertise is personal not professional. But because of the duration of my eating disorder, and my openness, I can be a powerful ally in helping those you love.


Personal experience, (Bulimic, anorexic, and self injury since 1984)

A.A. Chabot College

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