Bulimia/Eating Disorders/Bulimic Family Member
I strongly suspect my cousin's wife is bulimic. She is 29 years old and very thin. I notice she eats an incredible amount of food and will spend some time in the bathroom shortly after. I have heard her vomiting once during one of her post-food bathroom trips.
I know it might not be my place, but I am not sure if my cousin knows/suspects and don't want to bring anything uncomfortable up for either of them. She has 2 children, the second of which was born a week ago prematurely.
I am just worried she has not talked to anyone or gotten the help she may need, but am not sure how to find out or bring it up.
I do not envy you. Broaching the topic of an eating disorder with a family member is not an easy task.
Are you thinking of approaching your cousin or approaching his wife? If you approach her, I recommend the following:
1) Be prepared - She may get angry or deny it
2) Choose a caring environment - She needs to feel comfortable and safe; Do not approach the subject around meal time; You need to be calm and she should be too; Have a lot of time - this could take a while if she's ready to talk
3) Use the right language - use ‘I’ statements; e.g. ‘I care about you’ or ‘I’m worried about you’; Encourage her to express how she feels; Do not blame or threaten her; Don’t focus on the food – focus on her feelings (eating disorders are coping mechanisms - so it's better to get at the reason she's doing this); Avoid manipulative statements (e.g., If you loved us…)
4) Listen respectfully
5) Encourage her to seek help
6) Try not to take on the role of a therapist, but you may want to consult one prior to this conversation if you think it would help (someone you would recommend she talk to who actually treats eating disorders).
If you'd rather talk to your cousin, the same tips should work. He may suspect something and be afraid to confront her or he may be in denial.
I hope this helps! Please let me know if there is anything else I can do to help. Good luck!