It’s time again for Shortcuts. For every question, I’ll give my advice in three sentences or less, because sometimes the answer to a person’s question is so obvious and the need to hear it so great, being as clear and frank as possible is simply the best way to go. Today we discuss anorexic co-workers, elusive family, and oy, suicide.
Does this seem like enough to question whether my co-worker has anorexia? If so, what should be done about it? Like I said before, I don’t know her that well, although we do talk some. I don’t feel like I know her well enough to really bring it up seriously, but we also go to school together (this is a summer job we are both working together) and I could bring it up to school officials. I don’t know if that is butting in too much based on the evidence. What do you think? — Concerned Co-Worker
You said it best that you don’t know her well enough to bring up your suspicion that she’s anorexic. There could be a host of reasons — some of them health-related — for why you’ve never seen your co-worker eat anything, and you simply don’t know enough to assume she’s anorexic. Even if you did, without being a closer confidante, it really isn’t your place to try to help, especially when it doesn’t seem you would even know what sort of help to try to provide.
If being with a guy who, for two years, seems embarrassed to introduce you to his friends and family is the “happiest you’ve ever been,” you need to aim higher. At best, this guy wants only a casual relationship with you, so if you’re looking for a partner/ dad for your kid, it’s time to MOA ’cause this guy is not that and doesn’t want to be that.
I ended up telling her I was suicidal after she ended things, but to this day I’m curious what I could have done to handle things better. All the advice I’ve heard is that you should tell someone if you feel suicidal, and I know how close I came to making a big mistake. What should someone who wants to be good to the person they love do if they truly believe life would not be worth living without them? — Former Fiancé>
You should definitely tell someone when you feel suicidal, but not because you want to try to use the information to manipulate that person into giving you something you want. There are hotlines you can call when you need someone to talk to, and therapists you can reach out to to help you process whatever emotions and issues that are driving you to consider ending your life. If you want to be good to the person you love, seek help from a professional and reach out to people in your support network with whom you share a more stable relationship.
*If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, send me your letters at [email protected] and be sure to follow me on Twitter and ‘like’ me on Facebook.
amy July 13, 2012, 9:09 am
Wow, LW #3…. I’m so sorry for the troubles that you’ve faced. Please reach out to someone. Please don’t ever think that your life is not worth it. Your life is worth everything. It might seem like you cannot live without the one that you love the most, but you CAN. A therapist will help you see that.
Please reach out for help, you don’t need to suffer as much as you do.
amy July 13, 2012, 9:12 am
Also, the reason why there is a manipulation tone to suicide when people threaten it if they are faced with a break up is because there is. It’s called borderline personality disorder, these people might harm themselves, but most likely they won’t actually go through with it, they are emotional manipulators.
If you feel this way again, EVER, you can talk to your loved one, but the best thing to do is to seek help immediately, especially if you feel like your life is not worth it or if you feel like you don’t trust yourself. It doesn’t matter if someone is thinking it’s manipulation because of others that have done it, it MATTERS that you are feeling that way.
Thank you for reaching out for help here, you’ve made a big step I think, by reaching out to a bunch of very supportive (sometimes very tough love) board of Wendy admirers.
amy July 13, 2012, 9:15 am
I’m sorry that I can’t stop posting but my heart aches for #3 and I hope the LW finds inner peace
kerrycontrary July 13, 2012, 9:22 am
LW1- Take from someone with experience, it is extremely irritating to be asked if you have an eating disorder, not to mention downright rude. I was very thin as a teen and being asked if I was anorexic or bulemic during high school was disheartening and took a toll on my body image. No one should be talking about anyone’s body shape at work, period. Thin people don’t go around asking overweight people “Do you have a problem with compulsive binging or overeating?” While I realize you are trying to come from a positive and helpful place, it’s none of your business.
bethany July 13, 2012, 9:26 am
I got accused of being anorexic/bulemic all the time when I was a teenager– I laughed it off for the most part, because it was ridiculous. I was just a typical leggy teenager with a high metabolism (I miss those days!)! But, I still remember making sure not to go to the bathroom after eating, because I didn’t want people to accuse me of something I wasn’t doing… It sucks when people accuse you of stuff you aren’t doing.
amy July 13, 2012, 9:30 am
Not to mention if someone actually DOES suffer from an eating disorder. To be called out by someone you barely know in the workplace will probably add to the problem. Eating disorders are very shameful for the people that suffer from them, to realize that their secret is known in a very rude manner by someone that doesn’t know them could cause more harm than good.
ktfran July 13, 2012, 9:35 am
Just recectly a close friend told me I look emaciated or like I’m from Etheopia. Just because I now wear a size zero. Yes, I’m thin. But she has seen me eat. I can clear a table. It is not my fault I have high metabolism and no curves. Anyway, people aren’t allowed to comment on large people. Same goes for thin people.
Violet July 13, 2012, 1:28 pm
That’s a rude thing for a friend to say!
ktfran July 13, 2012, 1:57 pm
Right? She apologized. But still. Plus, I look healthy and dress appropriately. I get a physical every year, and my doc doens’t anything. As someone said below, it could be part jealousy.
gillociraptor July 13, 2012, 9:40 am
I had an eating disorder at the end of high school and during a lot of college, and any time anyone showed concern for me, I lied. Because eating disorders are a private thing. Being confronted by strangers (yeah, it happened) just made me angry and made me keep to myself even more. Any time someone brought it up, I revised my methods. Being badgered about how little I was eating made me move from anorexia to bulimia, which was easier for me to hide, because I’m pretty much a silent puker. Nothing anyone said to me had any effect on helping me get better. That had to come from my own desire to stop.
cporoski July 13, 2012, 10:07 am
Yes, LW1 focus on your work and not the weight of your coworker. I totally agree about the calling out Thin people. My sister is a triathlete and is very thin, people give her so much trouble. Noone ever calls out a fat person and takes food away from them. It is crazy.
And LW1, what are you doing watching what this girl eats every day? you don’t know her so why are you patroling her?
MandaNoA July 13, 2012, 10:39 am
I’m going to have to agree with everyone else. As someone who was naturally thin for a long time and then ended up with an eatting disorder in highschool, there is nothing worse than people calling you out on it. Especially someone who doesn’t know you that well. If your coworker doesn’t have an eatting disorder then she’s just going to be offended and any relationship you have with her now will be harmed. If she does have one, she’ll more than likely just deny it and find new and better ways of hiding it. Like what the other ladies said, if you wouldn’t want someone calling you fat then don’t call someone too thin.
6napkinburger July 13, 2012, 10:56 am
To be fair, LW #1 does not focus on her weight at all — but on the fact that she doesn’t seem to eat.
People who don’t eat are sick — that is a fact. Note, I did not say “people who don’t eat as much as someone thinks they should eat” or “people who don’t eat in front of you”– which is a HUGE distinction. My mom always said “No healthy child will starve themselves” (in the context of why she was never a “clean your plate” mother ever, but especially when we were little.) If the coworker truly does not eat, she probably does have anorexia or some other medical, physical, or psychological condition which is the root cause.
I still don’t think it’s the LW’s place to say anything, but just to be fair, the LW didn’t jump to this conclusion because the girl is thin (faulty evidence) but because she’s never seen her eat (better evidence, though of course, not sufficient.)
6napkinburger July 13, 2012, 10:57 am
And of course, I am referring only to people in situations where healthy food is readily available.
cporoski July 13, 2012, 10:58 am
But why is she patrolling and keeping track of what this girl does and does not eat?
lets_be_honest July 13, 2012, 11:00 am
and does she spy on her in the mornings and at night? The girl said she eats a big breakfast and goes home and eats dinner. So why is LW not believing that?
bittergaymark July 13, 2012, 2:04 pm
Probably because this colleague is wasting away before her eyes would be my guess… Hah! It’s funny how often women don’t mind sticking their nose in other people’s business over hilariously trivial matters, but here somebody is probably slowly killing themselves…. And everybody’s advice is to mind her own business? Wow…. So much for sisterhood.
lets_be_honest July 13, 2012, 2:16 pm
LW made zero mention of her “wasting away.” Literally the only thing she said was that this girl doesn’t eat lunch.
Do you go up to people you barely know that are overweight and ask them if they are eating too much? What about your thin friends? Do you ask them if they are on heroin or anorexic?
bittergaymark July 13, 2012, 2:20 pm
I assumed that that was one of the SIGNS she mentioned right at the top… Which means this isn’t just a thin friend or a heavy friend situation. And actually, yeah, I have told my fat friends they eat too much. Especially since all they ever did was complain about how fat they were. And one of my dangerously skinny friends WAS a drug addict and later sought help.
lets_be_honest July 13, 2012, 2:41 pm
Key word here is FRIENDS.
bagge72 July 13, 2012, 2:10 pm
It’s funny how the only signs of anerexia the LW saw, was that this girl was not eating, and that she turned down a couple of lunches. She didn’t notice a weight change in this girl, or her hair thining or falling out, but yeah she doesn’t like to eat lunch so she must be anorexic, and like the people how have been anorexic have said, that it just made the problem worse, and if she is anorexic she already knows about it.
bittergaymark July 13, 2012, 2:15 pm
Actually, no. It’s the only one she describes in great detail, true. But right at the top she says that she displays SIGNS of anorexia. The obvious signs of anorexia, you know, being a walking skeleton? Yeah, I can see why she would leave that out as its so obvious… Plus, who knows how this letter was edited… Somehow, if this person was the picture of perfect health, I doubt the LW would be bothering to write… Moreover, there is no subtext of bitchery to this letter. None at all.
bagge72 July 13, 2012, 2:39 pm
I never thought she was being a bitch, she just sounds really uneducated on anorexia, and overprotective of somebody she doesn’t even know well enough to call a work friend.
bagge72 July 13, 2012, 1:49 pm
6napkinburger July 13, 2012, 11:14 am
Again to be fair, if this is an open office, you would notice when someone doesn’t eat. I was in a case room with 4 women for about 2 months, all sitting at a giant table facing each other (with computers). The only breaks we really took were to go get lunch (or eat the lunch we brought) and sometimes we ordered dinner together (on the company) and sometimes individually and either ate together or took it home. When someone didn’t order, we usually asked what they were doing for dinner — not in a obsessive way, but because it usually meant that they were either going out or cooking and we liked talking about both. We would have VERY easily noticed if someone didn’t eat in front of us, without “patrolling” -food is a frequent topic (as was dieting and working out, and the news, and each others’ lives, etc.
That said, I’m really not saying the girl is anorexic or that the LW has a good enough basis to determine that, or even if she did, that she should say something.
I’m just saying that people are making the “just because I’m thin doesn’t mean you can ask me if I’m anorexic!!!” argument, which, while true, is not what seems to be happening.
demoiselle July 13, 2012, 11:23 am
If you are so aware of what everyone else is doing that you notice that someone never pulls out an apple, banana, or granola bar, then you are not paying much attention to your work…
6napkinburger July 13, 2012, 4:06 pm
You do notice when someone NEVER eats — its noticeable if everyone else is and it sticks out. And then it’s memorable. It’s also like noticing that someone NEVER comes to happy hours. You don’t have to be taking attendance to notice that someone is never there. (But you wouldn’t remember who came this week or who last week).
bagge72 July 13, 2012, 4:26 pm
There are some people in my office that I have never seen eat a single thing in my 8 years here.
cporoski July 13, 2012, 12:05 pm
I get what you are saying. I know that in my office, we all know tons about each other. However, I wouldn’t say that we barely know each other the way the LW does. I share an office and we are close by now because of the closer quarters we have. Also, I do not believe that the LW would think this girl was aneorexic if she wasn’t thin. I think the LW is projecting her own insecurities on a 3rd party here.
bagge72 July 13, 2012, 1:48 pm
Actually I think she did jump to the conclusion, because this person was thin, because if she was heavier, and still wasn’t eating she wouldn’t care. The truth is there are a million reason this girl might not be eating at work, like stomach problems, or she does intermittent fasting like tons of other people, and without know this girl the LW has no basis for making this claim or talking to her about it.
MsMisery July 13, 2012, 11:43 am
I was asked once, in the office, if I had cancer. I had lost about 20lb while going through a terrible break-up. I wasn’t handling it well, my sleep was all off, and I was BARELY eating- for months. It felt rude and intrusive coming from a co-worker, not one I was especially close to, and the question wasn’t even presented in a concerned fashion. My point is, there can be a lot of shit going on in a person’s life that they don’t have to explain to you.
SiSisodaPop July 13, 2012, 2:40 pm
Exactly. It’s not cool to make fun of/question someone for being overweight – It’s equally uncool to make fun of/question someone who is underweight. It’s just as hurtful either way. I’m a grown woman, 5’2″ weighing in at 98 lbs. I have 2 kids. I have had to deal with so much crap my entire life from people who thoght I was anorexic or bulemic or something. Some people naturally have higher metabolisms, or have medical conditions that cause a reduced appetite and difficulty maintaining their weight. For example, I found out that I have emphysema (congenital) just 3 years ago. I even more recently learned that this disease of the lungs causes other problems as well – such as reduced appetite, inability to gain weight. Anyway, enough about me, my point is that if you don’t really know someone well enough to know why they don’t eat / are thin / whatever other “symptom” you think they have, you do not know them well enough to ask about it. Period.
bethany July 13, 2012, 9:23 am
LW1- No, you shouldn’t ask someone you barely know if they’re anorexic! First of all, if she’s anorexic, she’s well aware of the fact that she is, and you asking her about it isn’t going to change her. Hopefully she has family and friends who know her well enough to be able to help her through this situation. Secondly, Wendy’s right. She might have some sort of medical condition or something else going on.
LW2- Have you asked this guy why you haven’t met his fmaily?? And when you run into his friends, what’s stopping you from introducing yourself??
LW3 is outta my league…
Tzvifl July 20, 2012, 1:26 am
I was puzzled by this comment from Bethany “First of all, if she’s anorexic, she’s well aware of the fact that she is, and you asking her about it isn’t going to change her.”, and some similar comments from some other posters.
Now I’m no expert but that doesn’t sound right to me. I thought anorexics generally do not know they are anorexic. They generally believe they are fat and unattractive and must lose weight by not eating even as they starve themselves to death, don’t they? And if you think you are too fat, then obviously, you do not think you are anorexic.
So while I agree that the LW probably should not confront her work colleague, it is not because the colleague, if anorexic, knows she is, but will deny it. She’ll deny it and genuinely believe her denial. And any intervention from a relative stranger is very unlikely to puncture that denial.
katie July 13, 2012, 9:27 am
for LW 2, i wonder what “forgetting to introduce me” means… like, literally, the two of them will start talking and you just stand there completely silent? or does he never say, “this is my GIRLFRIEND lw2”? those are two very different things… i mean, honestly, i feel like i “forget” to introduce people all the time. like in my head, i know both of you, so you both know each other already. i know that isnt logical, but in my head im dont think immediately oh i have to introduce you, you know? so i hope that my boyfriend doesnt think i dont actually like him because i forget to introduce him to people…
lets_be_honest July 13, 2012, 10:17 am
That’d be kinda weird if the guy called his gf LW2. Do you think he knows about this letter?
katie, you’re giving this girl hope. If it were the hi, how are you without a name introduction, I’m guessing she wouln’t have written in.
katie July 13, 2012, 10:23 am
im just thinking of the difference between saying oh this is my friend, lets be honest, and then oh this is my girlfriend, lets be honest, and then just not doing any kind of introduction and completely ignoring that lets be honest even exists when he sees someone he knows. because i definitely do the third thing… lol
lets_be_honest July 13, 2012, 10:34 am
Can you imagine someone totally acting like you don’t exist while your standing next to them. That’s pretty ballsy of the dude.
katie July 13, 2012, 10:37 am
lol. i do this… seriously. ill see someone and just start talking to them, and if we all start talking together, great! i mean, i dont actively try to ignore the other person, but i just focus my attention on the new person for a little while as i get my “how are you! whats life been like! hows the baby!” out of the way…
lets_be_honest July 13, 2012, 10:48 am
haha, I do too, but we’re also (I assume) not actively ignoring the other person.
demoiselle July 13, 2012, 11:24 am
I wonder what would happen if LW 2 introduced herself, and just said, “Hi, I’m Joan, John’s girlfriend.” His reaction might really speak volumes.
Clare July 13, 2012, 11:41 am
That’s a great idea! My boyfriend is terrible at introductions, so I normally end up introducing myself.
Red_Lady July 16, 2012, 10:06 pm
MISS MJ July 13, 2012, 11:50 am
LW#2 – You should absolutely take demoiselle’s advice and introduce herself as his girlfriend next time and see what happens. I suspect the reaction will be priceless.
I’m not even sure I understand the logistics of not ever being introduced to anyone your boyfriend knows for two years. Like, do the people he runs into ignore her, too? No one has ever said, “Oh, hi. I’m BF’s friend, John. What’s your name? How do you know each other?” There have been times where I’ve run into someone I know vaguely and I cannot remember their name (I’m terrible with them), so I don’t directly introduce the person I am with, but 9 times out of 10, the person I run into will introduce themselves. And, if they don’t, I’ll pull the person I’m with into the conversation using their name, and that usually takes care of the introductions because the other person will say, I’m so-and-so or whatever.
But two years with no introductions? How does that happen? Do they just hardly ever go anywhere? Is he taking her out two towns over so he won’t run into many people he knows? Whatever it is, this seems super shady to me.
LW#1 – If you have to ask yourself if you know someone well enough to ask them a personal question, usually you don’t. That rule definitely applies here. Mind your own business, quit gossiping about what your co-worker eats for lunch, and find something less busy-bodish to do with your down time. Surely something in your life is more interesting than whether your co-worker eats a sandwich every day.
LW#3 – You should always tell someone, be it a family member, friend or professional, if you are suicidal. No exceptions.
jlyfsh July 13, 2012, 9:34 am
lw1 unless she asks you for help do not say anything to her. you’re not close friends and really it’s just rude to comment on other people’s eating habits. it’s no different than asking someone else if they really think they should get fries as a side. what they eat (or don’t eat) is none of your business.
lw2 yeah i don’t understand how after 2 years he forgets to introduce you to people. have you tried interrupting and been like hey i’m x, his girlfriend of 2 years. really though, he’s not committed to you. time to move on and find someone who actually wants to be in a relationship with you.
lw3. i feel bad for you and i think you should read wendy’s advice and take it. i’m sorry that you were dealing with depression/thoughts of suicide and i hope you have sought professional help.
Budj July 13, 2012, 9:40 am
1 – she probably does…but it isn’t your issue and in the event she doesn’t and you bring it up? ….that is just awkward… The line you quoted about the being hungry and riding it out is a mentality that I’ve heard from several people with eating disorders.
2 – WWS
3 – WWS
theattack July 16, 2012, 3:54 am
But it’s also a fairly prevalent idea among people who are watching their weight in normal, healthy ways. Plenty of people feel hungry when they don’t actually need to eat, and recognizing the difference is very important. Sometimes people feel hungry when they’re actually just dehydrated. And sometimes people’s brains are just weird and give incorrect hunger signals. Like how I can be completely not hungry at all before I start eating, but after my meal is over, I feel like I’m starving. It makes no sense. So ignoring feelings of hunger is pretty common.
Budj July 16, 2012, 8:19 am
Michelle.Lea July 13, 2012, 9:58 am
To LW1 – unless you know her family and can talk to them, see if the behaviour is the same at home, leave it. Until I was about 30, I was severely underweight. When I was 18, worked at McDonalds, ate there every day, still underweight. I’m talking 100lbs and I’m 5’5”. Moved up here, and from 20 – 28, same thing. I did eat. I ate at work, had regular breakfast/dinner. Still underweight. I was asked a few times if I was anorexic, which I found pretty insulting. However, people only saw me either not eating, or going to the bathroom right after we ate. I’m sure a ton thought I was anorexic/bulimic. In reality, I had horrible IBS. It was always a gamble if I ate in public, work included, and if I was really hungry, it might be a worse attack. Then it was ‘oh are you ok? Do you need to go home?’ etc etc. which quickly turned into ‘she’s always sick’ …. Definitely don’t judge what you don’t know for sure, there are so many other conditions that are similar that you can’t spot. The person looks normal, how can they be sick? But they might be.
kerrycontrary July 13, 2012, 10:05 am
I have IBS too! Not something to be proud of haha. I found that not drinking helped mine a lot, thus my stomach improved after college ended.
Michelle.Lea July 13, 2012, 11:33 am
i’ve finally found relief (for now) with a low dose antidepressant + vitamin D. it’s like i get to be ‘normal’ for now. i know it probably wont last forever, but it’s nice to be able to go out, be a little spontaneous, and not worry where the next bathroom will be. people have no idea how bad it can be, and i had a mild/moderate version. i knew people that were pretty much homebound 🙁
cporoski July 13, 2012, 10:11 am
Right, I had a friend who had Crones Disease and it was the same thing. you fear eating around people because of the side effects. How sad would it be to call someone out who can’t help the way thier body is.
6napkinburger July 13, 2012, 11:02 am
My problem is three-fold: I have IBS, a communal bathroom at work that I have to walk past two receptionists who face/watch the door from the elevators, and a tendency to get incredibly cranky/grump/bitchy if I don’t eat (im guessing its a blood sugar thing and it runs in my family). It’s good times.
Michelle.Lea July 13, 2012, 11:35 am
ugh, i hate communal bathrooms at work :/ i only share mine at work with a few, and one of them has IBS too, so she gets it. like i said above, i’m closer to ‘normal’, but sometimes i’ll get overconfident and eat something that probably wasnt a good idea heh.
fast eddie July 13, 2012, 10:28 am
Good comment Michelle, but if her co-worker does suffer from anorexia intervention is necessary. This disease affects 9 million people in the US and it’s often fatal. Google yielded this link. http://www.state.sc.us/dmh/anorexia/statistics.htm It would take a lot of energy to accomplish anything but perhaps it’s worth it. Listen to your gut and consider what you want to do.
Friend of Beagles July 13, 2012, 10:59 am
Those stats are a bit alarmist. To play devil’s advocate, if you did a little further, the literature on anorexia mortality is not consistent. Mortality depends largely on comorbidities (especially alcoholism), and if this woman is doing a good job at work, that would suggest few or no comorbidities and her risk of death may be lower.
That being said, I am a former anorexic, and good God almighty, the observations of other people did NOT help. If anything, they made me more determined to minimize what I ate (“they think I’m not eating much now, just WAIT until they see how little I can eat”). I’m not saying it’s right, I’m just saying it was my thought process at the time. Assuming the coworker has an eating disorder, saying something to her is just as likely to backfire as it is to help, no matter how good your intentions.
lets_be_honest July 13, 2012, 11:01 am
(“they think I’m not eating much now, just WAIT until they see how little I can eat”).
6napkinburger July 13, 2012, 11:08 am
Can I ask you, did you receive treatment?
I find anorexia an interesting issue because im guessing 2 out of every 3 girls I went to high school with ate as little as we could and we lied about it, in an effort be thin. I don’t know if we get to be called anorexic because I don’t think it was about control — it was about thinness. I know I did that, my sister did that, and all of our friends, we found out later, did that. I’d eat a half a 200 calorie bagel for breakfast, half for lunch and as little dinner as I could get away with. And I was heavy (until it started working), so no one would have guessed.
Are you talking about things like that or full on diagnosed anorexia. If its the former, I don’t mean to minimalize your experience with my feelings about my own; I am just curious.
Friend of Beagles July 13, 2012, 11:21 am
Yes, outpatient. At my lowest, I was 72 pounds (I will always remember that, because the scale at the office said 73, but I had weight myself that morning and knew I was 1 pound less). I never totally stopped eating, but I did minimize what I ate and exercised. HATED my psychiatrist (a high school friend of my parents–AWKWARD). I gained weight just to get out of therapy, then dropped 10 lbs to prove to myself that I was still in charge. I wouldn’t say I was fully cured until I went to college and rearranged my priorities. Does that address your question? I don’t mind answering questions about that time of my life, but I’m not proud of it, either.
6napkinburger July 13, 2012, 4:21 pm
Yes, that does. Thank you for sharing your experiences.
GatorGirl July 13, 2012, 11:31 am
Thank you for explaining the triggers better than I did. While in the grips of my eating disorder- I feed off of the attention (negative or positive). It’s almost impossible to approach someone struggling with an eating disorder.
cporoski July 13, 2012, 11:07 am
But Obesity related illnesses kill 25-50% of people and we don’t call out fat people that we don’t know. (the range in numbers is based on Heart disease and if the attributing factors are more likely smoking or weight).
Anna July 13, 2012, 10:00 am
LW1 – I agree with everyone here that it’s rude to question someone’s eating habits if you don’t know them well. If she were a very close friend or family member, your concern might not be out of line. I say butt out of other people’s eating habits. I’m not a skinny person and never have been so I can’t relate to those who are talking about “skinny bullying” but I’ve experienced it in reverse my entire life. When I was in school, I was the fat girl everyone thought it was fun to throw stuff at. Even when I visit my parents, my dad always has some comment about my weight. “Wow, Anna, you look like you’ve been eating well.” The sad part is that I’m only mildly overweight not morbidly obese. In high school I was a size 10 but everyone made me feel like I was about a size 20. Now, I’m a size 14 which isn’t even that bad. So yeah, lay off about weight/eating whether someone appears to be “too big” or “too small.”
LW2 – MOA. This guy isn’t proud to be seen with you and doesn’t even care enough about you to acknowledge that you exist when he’s talking to someone else. You deserve better.
LW3 – You should definitely talk to someone when you feel like ending your life. There’s no worse feeling in the world than wanting to end it all, especially if you feel like no one cares. I can assure you that someone does. Call a friend, a family member, or a suicide hotline. I’ve been there and it’s a dark, ugly place. No one person or lover is worth ending your life over. When I thought my relationship was about to end (and I was right), I didn’t know what I would do without him. Even though I couldn’t imagine life without him, life still went on and I got stronger from the experience. It sounds like you have a lot of issues that you need to work on before you can find your own happiness. You should start seeing a therapist asap. Hang in there!
lets_be_honest July 13, 2012, 10:20 am
Anna, that made me so sad for you. I hate hearing about bullying.
And this…Even though I couldn’t imagine life without him, life still went on and I got stronger from the experience…Its so nice and a great reminder for people who need to hear it.
Anna July 13, 2012, 11:59 am
Thanks! It hasn’t been an easy life from day 1 but I have this strange feeling lately that every experience I’ve endured has been a building block towards becoming the strong, independent and driven woman that I am today. I really feel like I can do anything!
I always hope that my story can help someone who is stuck in codependency mode like I was. Especially the fact that I managed to pick myself up and dust myself off in only 3 months! There is a such thing as happiness, with or without another person. I’ve just learned that you have to choose it and strive for it in order to achieve it.
lets_be_honest July 13, 2012, 12:23 pm
Anna, after following the breakup, hearing about your parents and now the bullying, I just want to say I think your story DOES help. You really DO come out stronger and feeling like you can do anything. High five to you! I’m so glad you got to this point.
I wish more people realized that old saying of what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger is so true. I’ve been there too. 20, pregnant, single, no degrees and poor. Just defeated. Hopeless. Its amazing when you reach even a minor goal how you can feel like if you made it through that, you know you are really capable of anything. I’m so happy for you.
Desiree July 13, 2012, 10:00 am
Regarding LW2…how does someone go two years without meeting any family or friends of their SO? I wouldn’t necessarily judge the family issue, because these days some people live so far from their family and see them infrequently. But that is no excuse for not introducing a SO to friends. And, moreover, why do women put up with this nonsense??? Any good guy I’ve ever dated has made it a PRIORITY to introduce me to the people in his life.
bagge72 July 13, 2012, 10:10 am
at least with out an excuse why not, not I no longer talk to my family, because they did …. It sounds like she hasn’t even talked to him about this yet, so why not just start there, and see what the hell happens!
bagge72 July 13, 2012, 10:15 am
I meant to write Like I no longer talk to my family, because they did….
LK7889 July 13, 2012, 10:07 am
LW1 – The more I think about it, the more I’m coming to the conclusion that it’s pretty much never a good idea to “try to help” people who don’t come to you for help first. Almost always, the people that are hurting themselves DON’T want help and DON’T want to be called out on what they are doing. If you are close to the person, you might mention that you know what is going on and that they can talk to you (although in my experience even this much interest turns the most stubborn people away from you), but if they aren’t, you’re going to get a reputation for being nosy. Besides, how will you help the people that come to you for help when you use all your energy trying to help people who don’t want it?
katie July 13, 2012, 10:34 am
this is such a good point. you cant help those who dont want help in the first place. even if LW1 was like her sister or something and was super close to her, unless this lady WANTS help with her hypothetical problem, nothing would happen… just like any addiction or issue you can only get better once you yourself wants to get better.
Clare July 13, 2012, 11:43 am
Yeah, it’s not like if LW1 says “Oh, I’ve noticed x,y, and z and I’m really concerned about you. Do you have anorexia?” and the girl will just say “Yes! Finally someone said something and now I will go get treatment.”
lets_be_honest July 13, 2012, 10:09 am
LW1 – MYOB. Its weird that your only basis for this is that she doesn’t eat lunch. I never do either and I’m on the average to thinner side, but I’m FAR from anorexic.
LW2 – WWS, and please listen to her.
LW3 – Good question. I’ve lost too many people to this. Always, always reach out. To anyone.
iwannatalktosampson July 13, 2012, 10:38 am
Re: LW1 – yeah I didn’t know this was a huge deal. I am not on the thinner side – probably average. I’m on the fat end of a healthy weight according to BMI – not like I check regularly or anything. But I rarely eat lunch. Sometimes I don’t have time. Sometimes I just don’t want to – eating makes me sleepy. I don’t know if that’s a medical issue that I should look into. But unless I’m eating carrot sticks I will want to take a nap afterwards. And naps are frowned upon at most work places.
I would be weirded out if some random co-worker was peaking around the corner or spying with binoculars to see into my office around lunch time. Keeping a spreadsheet about my calorie intake. Get a hobby. Or better yet GET TO WORK. Stop obsessing over me. Why do I have a feeling this co-worker is not happy with her body? It always seems to be the people that are unhappy with their own bodies that make body related comments. Everyone needs to worry about themselves.
lets_be_honest July 13, 2012, 10:54 am
Yes on the naps! I hate when we have an office lunch and I’m basically forced to eat because it’d be weird not to, then all afternoon I’m dead tired. Agree on the LW actually getting work done too. Don’t spy on your coworkers. Its creepy. Like that guy in yesterday’s letter. 😉
ktfran July 13, 2012, 2:31 pm
Speaking of dead tired. I am right now. I want crawl up under my desk and take a nap.
Rachel July 13, 2012, 6:20 pm
How can you people NOT eat lunch? I can’t make it through a work day without lunch and a mid-afternoon snack. Seriously. I would get too distracted by my stomach rumbling to get any work done.
GatorGirl July 13, 2012, 10:18 am
LW#1 Absolutely DO NOT ask her if she is anorexia. You have no idea what is going on in her life. She could have a medical condition or any number of other reasons to explain her habits. And if she does have an eating disorder giving her attention could possible just fuel her habit. I have dealt with eating disorders for most of my life and the more attention I am giving because of them the deaper into the disordered bahaviour I go.
If you are truely concerned for her wellbeing, say something to your HR department or a supervisor. It is not your place as a peer to address this.
lets_be_honest July 13, 2012, 10:22 am
I’d be way more offended if a coworker told my HR dept. or boss that she thinks I have an eating disorder. How is it even their business?
katie July 13, 2012, 10:30 am
i think its similar to mentioning to HR that someone has a drinking problem or something… and HR has resources to help people like that.. i know my company has a whole “mental wellness” program with help for addictions, anxiety, access to therapists, access to lawyers, access to life coaching, budget help, you name it… if its something that would cause you mental anguish, they can help you with it. so telling HR might help them, you never know… now, the matter of how a co-worker could come to that conclusion in the first place.. i dont know about that. i dont think a co-worker who sees someone for about 9 hours a day could access if someone has any kind of condition.. but, HR could be a help for people who are facing many types of issues.
and also, i know that not all HR departments are good, not all of them keep things confidental, ect.. but the one at my old job was amazing. so they are out there, and they can help!
lets_be_honest July 13, 2012, 10:37 am
Its a tough decision I think. I hear you, it could be very helpful…but she could also lose her job at worst and at best have her own coworkers talking behind her back and judging her. In my opinion, HR is there for YOU, not for you to discuss other people unless they are harming you. If her HR is good, she’s probably aware of it and can reach out to them if she wants to. HR coming to her and saying you might need help isn’t going to help her if she doesn’t want it.
katie July 13, 2012, 10:39 am
if she lost her job that would be ridiculous! i couldnt imagine that happening….
but yes, i agree with you. HR is a resource for you more then anything else.
lets_be_honest July 13, 2012, 10:55 am
I was thinking more of someone who is an alcoholic. If I told HR someone was drinking on the job, or smelled from drinking last night or whatever, they’d likely be fired.
katie July 13, 2012, 10:59 am
every place i have worked has had a policy that if you come to work drunk and are “caught” drunk on the job, you are fired on the spot. but, if you go to HR and say that you have a drinking problem, they will get you help. so… i dunno. thats a hard call i guess. because in that case, when the other co-worker went to tell HR, was the alcoholic employee drunk at that moment…? i dunno. good point.
Lili July 13, 2012, 12:24 pm
Not Mine!!! We drink at work with clients, we drink on the roof. And have cocktails at weekly office parties. I’ve always stopped myself at two…but I know (skinny model like girls who eat nothing but salads) a few co workers who’ve been tipsy at work and hadn’t faced anything other than killer hangovers the next day. Why am I looking for another job again?!
lets_be_honest July 13, 2012, 12:30 pm
Yea, I’d be jobless if that rule applied to me. If I don’t have afternoon meetings and “easy” work, that means I have time for a lunch break and all lunch breaks should include a cocktail 🙂
Ashamed to admit I made the number 1 mistake once and got hammered with my boss at the office after party around the holidays. Like carried home hammered. But my boss was doing it with me and I didn’t do anything too embarassing. I have a really hard time not accepting shot for shot challenges. Now I’m going to go feel bad about how immature I was.
katie July 13, 2012, 12:31 pm
you work inside Mad Men, dont you? lol
Lili July 13, 2012, 12:39 pm
It feels like it sometimes, but with all women! Fashion has its fun side, but then its such a looks driven industry too. At a size 6, I’ was one of the largest girls in the company, its why i’m busting my butt to go back to a size 2-3… Our office holiday party was AMAZING, but no food after 9 but open bar with signature cocktails all night. My friend and I have this inside joke–don’t feed the models–now because of that Haha.
katie July 13, 2012, 12:55 pm
thats cool you work in fashion. thats what my sister wants to do…
i cant believe you think you have to go back to a size 2 from a size 6. thats sick, lili. i dont like that.
Lili July 13, 2012, 1:24 pm
Aww thanks Katie, its actually not that drastic. The way my body shape-apple–works is that I gain even a lb and thats an inch on my waist. I have skinny legs, small butt, enviable thighs but ALL my extra weight is carried in the front. I’m eating better and working out, so the chest is getting smaller, but the main part of me wanting to back to a 2 is losing the 3-4 inches off my waist that drives me INSANE. I’ve never had a non soft and squishy belly. Even at my skinniest so hoping enough planks and core workouts get me there!
GatorGirl July 13, 2012, 10:49 am
HR is supposed to keep things confidential. I would think addressing the co-worker directly would lead to more office gossip than saying your peace to HR and dropping it.
lets_be_honest July 13, 2012, 10:56 am
“supposed to” being the operative phrase. If I told you I thought you were anorexic, that’s not really gossiping at all. I still have to believe its really no one’s business unless its affecting her job skills and even then, its not a coworkers place to say anything. It’d be her bosses.
GatorGirl July 13, 2012, 11:28 am
I just went back and re-read the letter and it sounds like the office is already gossiping. I’m pretty sensitive to eating disorders as I’ve struggled with them my whole life. I would rather have a sensitivity trained member of HR approach me and express concern than a co-worker who has already been chit-chatting with others about me pretend to be sincere.
iwannatalktosampson July 13, 2012, 10:45 am
P.S. Katie – I have diagnosed you as bulimic. Because I mean I’ve met you once and I see your eating habits all the time on DW. Plus I refuse to believe that anyone sits around work sampling cookies all day and is still skinny. It’s unfair and I won’t stand for it. And by that logic you’re bulimic. This isn’t about my insecurities, it’s about you, and I care about you. Go talk to your HR.
katie July 13, 2012, 10:47 am
i love that you care, sampson… haha.
LK7889 July 13, 2012, 10:31 am
Agreed. I would take it much better if the person asked me directly than if I was pulled into the HR department to be asked invasive questions about my eating habits. Of course, when people ask me about my eating habits, I give them WAY more information than they want to make them embarrassed for asking, haha.
Lindsay July 13, 2012, 10:32 am
That could really be detrimental to her job. Though it’s wrong, I could see some supervisors doubting the employee’s abilities because of perceived mental illness. Health conditions are not the business of a supervisor or HR unless they interfere with work, OR if the employee chooses to make it their business.
GatorGirl July 13, 2012, 10:32 am
Well, HR people are supposed to be trained on how to handle situations like this. Like if someone had bad body oder, you would go to HR and ask them to address the other person. Rather than you as a peer saying something and risking a bad reation from the person and possible discipline if they take it wrong. It can sheild you as an employee from any negative affects.
But if it’s not affecting the employees work then, no it’s not HRs business. If it is affecting work abilities then I think it is HRs business.
lets_be_honest July 13, 2012, 10:39 am
Your BO example is fine. Like I said above, I think HR should be there for YOU and things that directly affect YOU. Not for tattling on coworkers potential health issues. I totally agree with your comment.
GatorGirl July 13, 2012, 10:47 am
I guess every company and person has a different interpritation of what HR is for. In my experiance it has been for everything from my BO example to a conflict with another employee to a co-worker providing a poor service to a client. I don’t think if it as “tattling” rather alerting the company of a potentially detrimental health condition. But if it’s not affecting the co-workers job performance the LW should stay out of it.
lets_be_honest July 13, 2012, 10:59 am
I agree with what you describe as the point of HR. You yourself say give examples of things that are affecting YOU. This girl potentially having anorexia is affecting no one and LW makes no mention of it affecting her job. Its not her business or HRs if she’s anorexic. I would absolutely consider it tattling to tell your boss or HR about someone else’s health.
Addie Pray July 13, 2012, 1:57 pm
I agree with both of you. The goal of HR is to help people do their jobs. All of the examples Gator gave are just that – examples where, for whatever reason (another person’s BO, conflict with an employee, etc.), the employee’s ability to do her job in a safe, unstinky workplace are compromised. But here? I don’t see how the employee’s refusal to eat is affecting LW1’s ability to do her job.
Addie Pray July 13, 2012, 2:10 pm
This should be in every employee handbook: “The Company is committed to providing a safe, unstinky workplace.” I am drafting a client a handbook now and will definitely add this in.
lets_be_honest July 13, 2012, 2:26 pm
But do you agree with me a little more than everyone else? You should. I have great hair. People like that are…not really sure where I was going with this.
Saw something funny on facebook though-
Always trust people that like big butts. They cannot lie.
Addie Pray July 13, 2012, 4:22 pm
No, I agree with you a LOT more than everyone else. 🙂 I don’t want to hear what you saw on FB until you FB me.
Having fun getting engaged in a bikini or one of two outfits this weekend! Or naked I guess.
Addie Pray July 13, 2012, 1:52 pm
It’s not HR’s business at all. So long as it’s not preventing her from doing her essential job duties with or without a reasonable accommodation, HR needs to know nothing.
katie July 13, 2012, 1:55 pm
says the resident DW employment lawyer.
take heed everyone!!!
GatorGirl July 13, 2012, 4:22 pm
Totally missed the sentence where she said they go to school together. A better suggestion may be to contact the mental health services at her school and express the concerns rather than my original suggestion.
CG July 13, 2012, 9:25 am
LW2, take a cue from Chris Rock: “If you’ve been dating a man for four months and you haven’t met any of his friends, YOU ARE NOT HIS GIRLFRIEND.” Seriously, every time someone writes in with a question and this applies, someone quotes it in the comments! 🙂
amy July 13, 2012, 9:27 am
I think LW2’s man of her dreams has a little somethin somethin on the side… like a wife or another girlfriend
lets_be_honest July 13, 2012, 10:15 am
The fact that he has more than one kid at 24 should raise some flags too. Maybe it has for all I know. Maybe there’s a perfectly normal reason, but worth considering if you haven’t already.
Also, I guess single moms often feel very lonely, but if you’re very busy, you will not have much time to feel lonely. So maybe get yourself busy with things rather than waste time with guys that won’t introduce you to anyone.
cporoski July 13, 2012, 11:01 am
That is what I was thinking. I have known guys who prey on single moms. They treat them horribly and get away with it. Alot of times it is hard because if you are a single mom in your early 20s, you are so different than your peers. I feel like certain guys can smell the vulnerability.
kerrycontrary July 13, 2012, 9:32 am
Totally agree. I don’t know how stuff like this goes on for 2 years, but that’s the power of denial.
Lindsay July 13, 2012, 10:30 am
LW1: I find it a little creepy that you pay enough attention to this girl that you know for a fact that she never eats lunch or at all in the office. When do you have time to get your work done? Some people are uncomfortable eating around others or have other health problems that make eating in public problematic. Asking her about an eating disorder is rude, and I’m not really sure what it would solve. If she did have one, being questioned by a nosy co-worker would probably not inspire her to get help.
LW2: This makes no sense. He can’t possibly be forgetting over the course of two whole years. MOA.
LW3: I’m sorry for what you went through. Telling someone about suicidal thoughts is important. However, it should be someone else — another friend, family member or professional. Telling the person who you’re upset over is manipulation and is probably in your best interest anyway.
demoiselle July 13, 2012, 10:46 am
LW1: Do not ask someone you barely know if they are anorexic. In my teens and early 20s, I was very very thin. 5’3 and 3/4″ (that 3/4″ is important, it means I just beat my Mom in height!). I weighed 92 or 95 lbs in high school, and during swim team season, I’d go down to 88 lbs or so. I stayed about 95 lbs through college, post-college, and grad-school.
During my MFA, I went to the health center, and one particularly sensitive and careful *nurse* commented to me about my BMI actually being just below the level where they would typically send a student home. I explained that I’d always been that way, and what my eating habits were, and she let me go. I didn’t have a problem.
I look at pictures at the end of that year, 2006, and recognize I looked scary-thin. I had also spent months taking care of my dad in hospice. Thank GOD no one was chasing me around telling me I had anorexia. I had other, more important problems to deal with than other people’s criticism of my body.
For me, I would often not eat while I was at work because I’d become so very focused on what I was doing (a little ADD) that I never became hungry. Plus, I had a high metabolism.
People accused me of being anorexic from the time I was 11. Usually it had an edge of thinly-veiled jealousy that I could feel pulsing. To have to explain for years over and over again that this is how I was, that I was even a skinny baby, and that I’d always been in the bottom 2% for weight became a burdon. Especially when the comments were fueled by jealousy. Or when they were coated over with an “I know better” attitude that if I just put myself into their charge, they’d give me a hamburger and help me. This at the very moment I was ordering milkshakes, grilled cheese sandwiches, and fries.
Now I am 32. My metabolism slowed. I married a man who loves to cook and bake. I got on an exercise routine that stimulated my appetite. I now hover between 115 and 128 lbs. I don’t get comments any more and I am grateful.
Other people’s comments about unknown medical conditions (or in my case, my father’s terminal cancer) causing this woman’s behavior are right on.
My body is mine, and there is a right way and a wrong way to express concern. The right way is for a friend to say something without hostility, or for a medical person to discuss your situation. The wrong way is a stranger making diagnoses or for goodness sake, reporting a person to HR (if they are not harassing others, fainting, or screwing up their work).
kerrycontrary July 13, 2012, 11:16 am
“Usually it had an edge of thinly-veiled jealousy that I could feel pulsing.” SO TRUE.
cporoski July 13, 2012, 12:13 pm
Your middle paragraph is exactly what I was thinking!!!
Leroy July 13, 2012, 11:22 am
Dear Skinny Co-Worker
Why do you not allow me to observer your eating habits? That is a sign of Anorexia!
Also you do not partake in delicious networking events at Applebees – another sign of Anorexia!!
A+B = ANOREXIA!!
We are watching you;
p.s. you have a spider on your back.
cporoski July 13, 2012, 12:14 pm
This is so funny!!! perfect.
kf July 13, 2012, 12:18 pm
I’m surprised this didn’t set off anyone else’s manipulometer:
“this woman was my whole world, and had essentially lied about loving me, wanting to be married, and pretty much everything else that I kept close to my heart. ”
LW, it’s entirely possible that she loved/loves you, and at some point wanted to be married to you. But being someone else’s “whole world” is overwhelming. She’s presumably not a professional therapist, and even if she is I would think she’d want a perceived equal for a spouse rather than a patient. It sounds like she recognized that you were not well enough to be healthily married to anyone. People’s feelings changed; that you morph that into “she lied” is a big red flag. Please listen to everyone else and seek professional counseling.
Addie Pray July 13, 2012, 12:20 pm
I think I’m gonna go ask my new coworker if he has diarrhea. He’s been back and forth to the bathroom like 10 times this morning.
Lili July 13, 2012, 12:27 pm
Don’t you know Addie, the Men’s room is where big important men lawyers hold meetings now. The Men’s Room has become the golf course of the 50s.
bittergaymark July 13, 2012, 1:58 pm
LW1: Say nothing? Really, Wendy? Really, Everybody? Um, okay. THAT’S precisely why people DIE from anorexia. People just watch somebody waste away from the sidelines and say nothing. What’s she supposed to do? Enjoy the show? Be happy her colleague is no threat career-wise? What with her horrible networking skills, oh, and the fact that she’ll soon be dead? Okay, fine. Whatever. Hey. it’s not like there is a shortage of people on the planet. Me? I wouldn’t use the A word, no — since that already was denied. But I would tell her I was concerned about her. And I would tell her that others are concerned about her, too.
LW2: “Second best is never enough / You’ll do much better, baby, on your own / Baby, on your own…”
LW3: Killing yourself over a lover is just fucking stupid. No, really, it just is. Money problems? Total financial ruin? A profound deep sense of knowing you will NEVER accomplish anything you ever set out to accomplish? Now, THAT’S reason to kill yourself. But lost love? Please! NEWSFLASH! You’re so NOT Romeo, especially since she was such a lousy Juliet. And come on, you deep down you know you’re lying… You didn’t want to sleep forever — you just wanted her back. It’s emotional blackmail, it’s pathetic. It’s cowardly. It’s beneath you.
Addie Pray July 13, 2012, 2:16 pm
But LW1 is just a coworker. It doesn’tsound like they’re work spouses, or “sporks” as my spork and I refer to each other, or even friends. LW1 would never get anything done if she approached every coworker she thought was harming himself — they guy who gets drunk at work events, the guy who overeats at lunch, the guy who takes smoke breaks, etc.
bittergaymark July 13, 2012, 2:17 pm
Wow, you sure do work with a lot of fuck-ups… Maybe it IS true about lawyers…
Addie Pray July 13, 2012, 5:22 pm
Don’t even get me started. The attorney in the office next to me wore black shoes with navy slacks today. ROYAL FUCK UPS EVERYWHERE.
iwannatalktosampson July 13, 2012, 2:23 pm
1. You are assuming she is in fact anorexic. LBH and I have both proven that plenty of people without eating disorders skip lunch. In fact today is the first day this week I’ve eaten lunch. My metabolism hates me.
2. Would you go up to a co-worker and say “hey I noticed that you’re inching your way close to 200 lbs – I’m really concerned about you. I saw you eat a cheeseburger at lunch – was that really the best decision given your situation” – these are things YOU BGM might say to a friend – but I have to believe even you wouldn’t say that to a co-worker that you’re not friends with. You shouldn’t comment on skinny people the same way you shouldn’t comment on fat people.
3. What exactly would telling her accomplish? If she is actually anorexic I’m sure she knows it. You’re not really cluing her in to anything or telling her something she doesn’t already know. You’ll just make it worse. She will become more ashamed and more depressed or even worse – thrilled that someone noticed and proud of herself.
bittergaymark July 13, 2012, 2:28 pm
Well, when the update comes in about how the colleague in question IS wasting away, you will all hopefully change their tune. If somebody at a normal weight skips lunch, I don’t see how anybody would even notice… Honestly, I don’t.
Saying nothing will just let her continue to slowly die. But whatever. Not her problem, I guess. Slow curtain. The End.
PS — I was SUPER SKINNY for years growing up. Nobody ever thought I had an eating disorder because I was constantly, constantly eating… Naturally skinny and healthy people don’t skip lunch EVERY day… They just don’t.
iwannatalktosampson July 13, 2012, 2:32 pm
Yeah but there’s a huge spectrum between eating disorder and healthy. Like me. I skipped lunch Monday-Thursday this week. As I mentioned above and I am on the heavier side of the normal weight range for my BMI. I think last I checked I was a 23 or something when healthy is like 18-25. So yeah I’m probably not “healthy” because I don’t eat 3 meals a day and I don’t work out besides the occasional yoga. But that doesn’t mean I have an eating disorder.
GatorGirl July 13, 2012, 3:01 pm
There is an official diagnosis in the DSM of “Disordered Eating” which covers irregular eating habits/behaviors which do not warrent an anorexia or bulimia diagnosis. So perhaps anorexia is an incorrect description of the LW’s co-workers problem.
lets_be_honest July 13, 2012, 2:33 pm
If somebody at a normal weight skips lunch, I don’t see how anybody would even notice… Honestly, I don’t.
You underestimate how nosey people are.
Also, I’m pretty healthy. Average. I skip lunch almost every day.
Lili July 13, 2012, 2:53 pm
So..what should I have for lunch today?!
lets_be_honest July 13, 2012, 2:57 pm
cheese. And booze since you’re allowed.
Lili July 13, 2012, 3:05 pm
Haha! Would a Cheeseburger work? And I’m saving the drinking for 4–happy hour plans 🙂 I could pregame though…
Michelle.Lea July 13, 2012, 5:36 pm
people watched me eat big macs every day and still thought i was anorexic. and i wasn’t. i think it may be a bit different for guys vs. girls. if you’re skinny and a guy, you just havent filled in yet. if you’re a girl, you’re anorexic.
this doesnt contribute to anything, just random commenting.
cporoski July 13, 2012, 3:47 pm
Your Number 3 is funny. It is like saying “Oh I noticed your hair falling out.” to a cancer patient. Doesn’t fix anything but brings attention to the wrong thing.
lets_be_honest July 13, 2012, 2:30 pm
I thought your comment on LW1 was bad…then I read your LW3 comment.
So reasons you yourself find acceptable to kill yourself are A OK, but not his?! Are we really competing about this?
As to 1, at no point did the LW say this girl even looked unhealthy. If she wrote in saying I have a co-worker who I’m friendly with, that cries to me about having no friends or family and has lost 50 lbs in the past 6 months and looks like a skeleton and I hear her puking after she eats a tic tac, then I am 100% sure everyone would’ve given different advice.
bittergaymark July 13, 2012, 2:39 pm
Threatening suicide in the manner the LW suggests is emotional blackmail if he doesn’t do it. A hideous form of REVENGE if he does. And that’s totally wrong, yes. Yes, it is in my book. Why? Because it’s completely self-serving and selfish.
But if somebody has truly lost everything and has been profoundly unhappy for a very, very long time and is simply at a breaking point where they truly have tried everything and still failed? That’s totally different. Totally, totally different. There is nothing worse than being profoundly unhappy years and years. Hopefully, this is something you probably wouldn’t know. But trust me, the two are very, very different.
lets_be_honest July 13, 2012, 2:51 pm
No, no, no. What the LW said was that he really wanted to, because he was that upset. Not that he wanted to in order to teach her a lesson or anything like that. And that the only reason he would tell her is because she was the only person he was comfortable talking to.
Suicide itself is self-serving and selfish, so I’m not sure how you could say some reasons are better than others to kill yourself and therefore, in certain situations its not self-serving.
I saw what you wrote yesterday about it being good you didn’t have a gun in your house. While I hoped you were joking, maybe you weren’t. Maybe you feel the way you describe in your second paragraph. But from the little I know of you, you have a sister and a nephew that you adore. Because of them, I know you haven’t “truly lost everything.” I also know you have a lovely garden that you enjoy. Another way I know you have “truly lost everything.” You still talk about joining an improv club. You still try to find jobs. Don’t you think you would only be serving yourself and hurting your family and friends beyond belief? I think you are down and negative, but you still have a lot to live for and I think you know it. You have it a hell of a lot better than a lot of people. People that are still trying to live.
bittergaymark July 13, 2012, 3:01 pm
Oh, I do. But trust me… Staying alive to show up for the holidays and occasional family vacations is no picnic. Oh, everybody’s weekend parties would be a lot more boring without me around, sure. And so I won’t kill myself. I won’t.
But I understand those who would.
Oh, and that fabulous garden? I’m probably going to lose it. The improv club? Can’t afford that much longer either…
It’s funny though, you really did just kind of prove my point. I mean you just did for me what I’m suggesting somebody do else do for a colleague that is probably much more clearly in trouble than I am… Much more obviously so, too…
lets_be_honest July 13, 2012, 3:10 pm
You actually wrote out that if you had a gun you might use it. You then wrote a day later about how you can relate to people who kill themselves. BIG DIFFERENCE between that and a stranger skipping fuckin lunch.
If any of us disagreeing with you thought for a second that this girl actually had a problem, we would all be giving different advice. None of us think she does.
bittergaymark July 13, 2012, 3:14 pm
And I think you all have your head in the sand. But whatever. Agree to disagree. With the numbers on anorexia at an all time high, I’d say the odds are much more in favor of the LW being right than simply being a meddlesome bitch, but, hey, what do I know.
cporoski July 13, 2012, 3:53 pm
we would miss your funny comments here too.
bittergaymark July 13, 2012, 4:10 pm
Well, you’d all best brace yourselves for a real drought.
No, just kidding. I do have a long trip home coming up where I have to do something I’ve never done. Ask to borrow money. Ugh…
cporoski July 13, 2012, 4:12 pm
The fear of asking is worse then when it actually happens. i promise the reaction won’t be as bad as you fear. Good luck.
bittergaymark July 13, 2012, 2:32 pm
By this logic, I take it one should never reach out to a colleague you don’t know very well at work who shows up ever other day with obvious bruises? I mean, you certainly don’t want to embarrass the person. They know they’re being abused, right? They know they’re being BEATEN if that’s what’s truly happening. Moreover, how do you really know she isn’t just a total klutz who really does run into a walls daily? Maybe… she’s just accident prone. Yeah, right. I mean, really? What ever would you hope to accomplish by reaching out?
lets_be_honest July 13, 2012, 2:37 pm
Seriously you’re being extra irrational.
Skipping lunch DOES NOT EQUAL a woman covered in bruises every day.
bittergaymark July 13, 2012, 2:41 pm
You’ve all glossed over the obvious. The colleague is CLEARLY dangerously thin! Why else would the LW even bother writing in?! Seriously… think about it.
iwannatalktosampson July 13, 2012, 2:44 pm
Because she has nothing better to do! Seriously. Her so called “signs” just prove that she needs to spend more time and work actually working. Have you never met people at work who love to make a mountain out of a molehill? This LW sounds like one.
bittergaymark July 13, 2012, 2:51 pm
Oh, yes, sure I have. But this LW doesn’t come off that way at all. Honestly, you all astound me. Some girl writes in about how she is worried a colleague is slowly killing herself and the go to response around here is bran her her a meddling bitch who is creating drama out of nothing because she’s bored? Oh, and she’s also not good at her job because she notices the obvious… WTF? Okay, I am left baffled. The responses to this letter simply shock me… More than that, they depress me…
GatorGirl July 13, 2012, 2:56 pm
I agree. If some one wrote in and said their co-worker has 6 drinks everynight after work at happy hour and they are concerned that they might be an alcholic or are struggling with alcohol addiction I think the response would be very different.
lets_be_honest July 13, 2012, 3:00 pm
I wrote this above, so I’m just copying and pasting.
If she wrote in saying I have a co-worker who I’m friendly with, that cries to me about having no friends or family and has lost 50 lbs in the past 6 months and looks like a skeleton and I hear her puking after she eats a tic tac, then I am 100% sure everyone would’ve given different advice.
What she wrote was “I see signs of anorexia because she doesn’t eat lunch. Another coworker already accused her of being anorexic and the girl was insulted. Should I continue to harass this person I don’t even call my work friend?”
Lili July 13, 2012, 3:03 pm
Because we’re all glad she’s finally losing some weight. The world was starting to revolve around her gravitational pull…amirite?!
IDK BGM, I’m not one to talk because I DO work with a lot of skinny size zero could be model thin and anorexic looking women. And I’m frequently fad dieting/wishing that I was as skinny. So I personally wouldn’t say anythin, because aside from ranting to DW and my friends I don’t like to talk or think about my weight and whether my eating habits are healthy or not and I sure as hell DON’T talk to my co workers about it other than, OMG I ate so much last night/have you heard of this new fad diet stuff. actually at my office its almost ‘better’ to admit to drinking too much than eating too much. Because at least with the drinking you get camaraderie. With the eating, its like..eh. But other than the skinniest girl here who only eats salads, my co workers seem to have normal habits, maybe a bit more austere than my own but still, we’ll have pizza parties once a quarter. I’ve seen everyone eat here. I also have a few friends who struggled with anorexia. One had it coupled with social anxiety and I know they often feed (pardon my pun) each other. I’m not a professional by any means, but if this girl needs serious psychological help, I’d have no idea how to mention it. Mental health is one of the things thats not ok to discuss in polite office environments.
bagge72 July 13, 2012, 2:59 pm
especially a college kid!
ktfran July 13, 2012, 2:44 pm
But why didn’t she say that along with the other stuff? Because if I wanted to pull the anorexic card on someone, I sure as hell would say he or she is dangerously thin.
bittergaymark July 13, 2012, 3:04 pm
I honestly think she thought she did with her very first line…
ktfran July 13, 2012, 2:42 pm
“The signs include: she never eats lunch (absolutely never).” Also “I’m hungry now, but I know in an hour I won’t be.”
Those are the only two signs the LW states as to why she thinks her coworker is anorexic. If I really thought someone was anoroxic, I would also add “oh yeah, she’s like 5’5″ and weighs 100 llbs.” Or “She looks really unhealthy”. Or something about her apprearance. She didn’t. She’s only going by what she thinks this girl eats, which, IMO, does not warrant an anorexic talk. Unhealthy habits, ok. But not the extreme.
bittergaymark July 13, 2012, 2:47 pm
No, again, those are only the the two she bothers to explain in detail. Honestly, right at the top she says signs of anorexia. The main sign of anorexia is being dangerously skinny. Whatever. Agree to disagree… I imagine the update WILL prove me right.
iwannatalktosampson July 13, 2012, 3:04 pm
I find this to be a very random strange LW for you to start giving the benefit of the doubt when there is such a lack of any evidence to back up her claim.
bittergaymark July 13, 2012, 3:12 pm
Again, I’ve known a lot of SKINNY people with high metabolisms… and they’ve all eaten lunch in front of me at some point. Especially my coworkers… She turns down lunch invites from the higher ups? That alone is career suicide…
cporoski July 13, 2012, 3:58 pm
This is a summer job. not a career.
bagge72 July 13, 2012, 3:02 pm
obviously she is a skinny girl, nobody ever thinks a heavier person is anorexic, but that doesn’t mean because she is skinny that she is anorexic! If you are going to include signs of anorexia don’t you think you would include somethings a little more damaging then “doesn’t eat lunch”? I mean seriously if you were to write a letter explaining something you thought was harmful to somebody would you leave out the real signs of anorexia?
GatorGirl July 13, 2012, 3:05 pm
You know it is possible to have an eating disorder and still be over weight. What is she is actually bulimic and choses to only binge and purge while at home in the evenings? What if she is just developing the anorexia and hasn’t lost enough weight to warrent the LW saying she is skinny?
iwannatalktosampson July 13, 2012, 3:11 pm
I agree! I mean even being skinny isn’t a sign of anorexia. It can be. But fat people can be anorexic as well. So even if she’s skinny + doesn’t eat lunch it doesn’t = anorexic.
GatorGirl July 13, 2012, 3:16 pm
I do think that this LW is exhibiting other signs that could point towards an eating disorder though. Skipping lunches with superiors that could possibly advance her career, being disproportionately offended by the other co-workers comment, never eating anything while at work….
But I wanted to point out that being thin is irrelevant in the discussion of disordered eating or anorexia or bulimia. It CAN be a symptom but it is not the #1 thing to look for.
iwannatalktosampson July 13, 2012, 3:38 pm
What is the appropriate level of offense to take when someone is insinuating that you’re anorexic? Seriously I’m curious. What if someone was insinuating that you’re obese? What is the proper response to these inquiries? I would be pretty offended.
Also I mean everyone goes on diets occasionally. I lost about 20lbs before my wedding. It took me two months so it was done relatively healthily. But I love cooking and baking. It is a hobby of mine. I normally spend at least one weekend day cooking big meals and baking. Well when you’re on a diet and not eating sweets you have to give the food away right? I had a friend ask me if I was anorexic because a sure sign of anorexia is baking food that you have no intention of eating. Weird, I just thought it was a hobby.
I guess my point is that this random stranger has no way of knowing if the girl is anorexic or not, and frankly I’m not seeing the signs. What if she’s just on a diet? What if she has social anxiety and just doesn’t want to eat with her boss? What if her boss has previously hit on her and she’s uncomfortable with 1 on 1 time with him? I mean who knows. All of this is speculation and we only have two reasons she might be anorexic. And they’re not even work friends! If they were I would definitely recommend she say something – but this is essentially a stranger.
GatorGirl July 13, 2012, 3:45 pm
I bake food all the time I have no intention of eating. I think it is related to my eating disorder. (which is fully in check at the moment but it’s never something you truely get over).
And I don’t know what the right reaction is. I know I justified the hell out my behavior when I was starving myself. And if I was confronted I denied the crap out of it talked my way out of it etc etc. I’ll never know what a “normal” reaction is because my brain is wired wrong in regards to controlling food consumption.
iwannatalktosampson July 13, 2012, 4:23 pm
Well then how can you say that she overly defended herself? It’s pretty insulting to be told you have an eating disorder from someone who is only around you for 1 meal of the day. So yeah I would get pretty defensive about it. Well I wouldn’t, but I understand how others would. I am trying to explain that people do things for no particular reason some times (the baking) but you just keep pointing to ways that could be a sign of an eating disorder. What isn’t a sign of an eating disorder then? Stuffing your face three meals a day? Because as we’ve both acknowledged even overweight people can have eating disorders.
I just don’t understand the obsession with another person’s eating habits. You said yourself it never helped you get better- you had to want to get better on your own. At best the LW is right and nothing will change – the girl will get better when she’s ready too and at worst the LW is just a meddlesome individual who needs to mind her own business. Office gossip is the worst. And it’s gossip because the LW has no proof at all that it’s true and she’s chatting with other coworkers about it.
GatorGirl July 13, 2012, 4:41 pm
I agree it is totaly possible the chick is perfectly fine. But it’s possible she isn’t. I guess the other little things we more troubling to me. The weird statement about not being hungry later, not going on company lunches, etc. I mean maybe the girl is just a little socially awkward. It’s possible.
And yes, office gossip sucks. I’m so thankful I work from home.
lets_be_honest July 13, 2012, 3:16 pm
You realize there is a difference btween harassing co-workers about their eating habits and having an eating disorder, right?
This girl has gone out of her way to tell the LW she eats a big breakfast and has dinner, just prefers no lunch. You say the LW should speak up. Well, she did. Already. So did another rude coworker. How long do you suggest she continue to harass this poor girl?
bittergaymark July 13, 2012, 3:20 pm
Yeah. And anorexics NEVER lie about such things…
bagge72 July 13, 2012, 3:30 pm
So you are suggestion that she check this girl into a hospital then? I mean since this girl is lying about what she is doing to get these people of her back, isn’t that the next step? To have somebody you don’t know take things to far?
lets_be_honest July 13, 2012, 3:49 pm
What’d they do to Britney? 5150 hold? Yes. Let’s do that.
bittergaymark July 13, 2012, 3:49 pm
No, I am suggesting that she voice her concern. Gently. And compassionately. I certainly wouldn’t just bury my head in the fucking sand. People go around all the time crying out for help and nobody notices… until it’s too late. Then they all stand around and start with the selfserving handwringing… “If only I knew, if only…blah, blah, blah.” One thing is VERY clear from these responses here today… People. DON’T. Want. To. Know. Many of you have made that abundantly clear…
lets_be_honest July 13, 2012, 3:54 pm
She already did. Her and another coworker actually.
bittergaymark July 13, 2012, 4:04 pm
Then I’d keep doing it. If that failed, I would talk to her family… I would do something… But then. That’s just me. Ironic, isn’t. The one who openly labels himself bitter is seemingly the only person who cares… And that IS why I am bitter. 😉
qm July 13, 2012, 5:16 pm
And if she doesn’t have an eating disorder? If she has IBS like some other commenters have said? The LW would be harassing her and could very well lose HER job for it. And if she does have an eating disorder? Harassing someone with an ED is the LAST thing to do. I know many people, including myself, who range from mildly disordered eating to full-on ED. Harassing them would do nothing except make it WORSE. Which no one wants to do here, whether they think she has one or not.
bittergaymark July 13, 2012, 5:19 pm
To mention that you are concerned about somebody isn’t harassment. Honestly, it just isn’t… If other colleagues have mentioned it, something is rather obviously wrong. But whatever. I guess its better to just sit back and do nothing. After all, they totally just get better all on their own. I mean, nobody ever dies of an eating disorder…
qm July 13, 2012, 6:25 pm
“Then I’d keep doing it. If that failed, I would talk to her family… ”
Actually, that IS harassment. Someone has asked her if she is anorexic; they’ve made several comments. At this point, I would go to HR if I were the co-worker because the LW not dropping this is harassment. And it’s also not helpful.
bagge72 July 13, 2012, 4:11 pm
You get so dramatic on here about calling people out, and saying they don’t want to do this or do that or do that, or their head is up their ass, or all the women on here are bitches who don’t know anything about guys and it’s almost like crying wolf, people are going to just stop listening to what you have to say. Not saying that is what I’m going to do, because I like you no matter what you say.
bittergaymark July 13, 2012, 4:17 pm
Honestly, I could care less if people listen to me on here. To the contrary it’s rather obvious that most don’t.
GatorGirl July 13, 2012, 3:21 pm
Yes. I do realize. I have spent most of my adult life struggling with various forms of eating disorders. I know that while sick, I would go out of my way to hide my disorder, convince others that I had just eaten, etc etc etc. I’ve weighed 90 pounds and barely been able to walk down my high school hallway and been confronted be teachers, peers, family members etc etc etc. I’ve limited my self to 250 calories a day. So yeah, I understand eating disorders.
I didn’t say anything about nagging this chick in that comment…I was refering to the NUMEROUS people who are commenting that the LW didn’t include that she is skinny so CLEARLY she couldn’t have an eating disorder. That is utterly and completely false.
lets_be_honest July 13, 2012, 3:53 pm
First, I didn’t ask if you understand eating disorders. Everyone understands what they are, at least to a degree.
Moving on, when you were confronted, how did that help you? Was it effective?
I’m just wondering how long you would suggest insisting to this girl that she must tell you she has an eating disorder. She already said she ate breakfast and dinner (clearly a lie?) and another coworker already rudely told her she probably has an eating disorder. So how much longer do you think they should bother this girl?
GatorGirl July 13, 2012, 4:06 pm
I don’t beleive everyone understands eating disorders but that aside…
It was not helpful to be confronted. Because it was done with little tact (like the other co-worker in this example) and only fueled my messed up mind. Negative attention was just as good, if not better than the positive attention my skeletal frame was drawing. I only finally was able to get better when I wanted to get better. Which was only about 3 years ago.
There is no right answer for this LW. We can all argue until we’re blue in the face and only this co-worker in the letter will ever know if she is sick and needs help. The signs are there to me but I’m sensitive to eating disorders.
lets_be_honest July 13, 2012, 4:19 pm
I’m co fused then. Are you agreeing with everyone who says there is no point in saying something to her? It sounds like it.
GatorGirl July 13, 2012, 4:28 pm
Seriously I think it is one of those situation where you’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t. Random people reaching out to me didn’t help. But that was my specific case. It could be very different for someone else. Eating disorders arise from a huge variety of reasons and there isn’t one right way to deal with them. For me and one of my friends it was all about controll. I micromanaged the shit out of my diet and exercise, as did that friend with her bulimia. Another friend her ED was solely because of body imaige issues. If I saw someone struggling I know I damn well would figure out a caring and compasionate way to communicate my concern to them because if I ignored it and they spirled deaper into their sickness I would hate myself for it. But saying something could trigger them to get sicker too so.
bittergaymark July 13, 2012, 4:07 pm
Wow. That openly line? LBH, that was shockingly fucking bitchy. Shockingly so. Let’s be really honest here, I don’t think you realize how you sound half the time… Somebody opens up to you with a hugely relevant truth about their own struggle with the very topic at hand and you get all bitchy. Nice. Honestly, to suggest you understand eating disorders even remotely as well as GatorGirl is hubris at it’s best… I won’t even bother to say what it is at its worst…
lets_be_honest July 13, 2012, 4:26 pm
I didn’t want to say it because I don’t think it makes me any more or less of an expert, but I suffered from both anorexia and bulemia for many years when I was younger. I choose to not throw the ‘I know better bc I was sick too’ card and it bugged me that she was detailing the horrible things she went through for what I felt was dramatic effect to make her argumen sound better. So if i came across as annoyed by her comment, that’s because I was. Every person on here who had an eating disorder had clearly stated that people harassing them about it only made it worse. And I see no reason whatsoever to think this girl has one. Anyway, I think gg’s reply to me was classier than I deserved, so I’ll give you that.
bittergaymark July 13, 2012, 4:30 pm
I’m saying that people should harass her. I don’t think expressing sincere concern is harassment. And if she won’t seek help herself, I’d go and talk to her family. I’ve actually done this. Not about eating, but drugs. And you know what? That worked… That person is still alive today because somebody got them help…
bittergaymark July 13, 2012, 4:31 pm
NOT!!! I’m NOT saying people should harass her…
lets_be_honest July 13, 2012, 4:36 pm
Drugs are very different IMO. I’ve done that too for friends. Note I said friends, not strangers that I know nothing about other than the fact they don’t like eating at lunch time. I assume you mean friends too.
I know you’re loving the chance to label us heartless but you’re wrong. Everyone on here is compassionate. We’re just not being as dramatic about skipping lunch.
GatorGirl July 13, 2012, 4:36 pm
Not trying to agrue here…just wanting to clarrify. I wasn’t going for dramatic affect. I openly share my sturggles with anorexia in the hopes that my story could help someone. Same reason I share my experiances with my mentally and physically abusive ex. I beleive people can learn from my story and see that even when you have shitty things happen you can get through them and be a happy, healthy adult in a wonderfully rewarding relationship. I’m not better than anyone else, but I’d like to think that sharing my pain could maybe help one person.
lets_be_honest July 13, 2012, 4:39 pm
I’m sorry for saying that. When I read it, that’s how I read it and it irked me. I didn’t see how it had any bearing on this girl skipping lunches.
You’re right though. That’s why we all share our stories on here. Sorry for being a bitch.
Ps. Off to bikini/engagement vaca now lol. Have a great weekend all.
GatorGirl July 13, 2012, 4:43 pm
No hard feelings! We’re all just trying to help these people.
bagge72 July 13, 2012, 6:31 pm
pictures I hope!
bagge72 July 13, 2012, 3:15 pm
It is possible, but I bet no one would ever assume that if the person is a so called normal weight.
lets_be_honest July 13, 2012, 3:16 pm
And even so, whats the solution. Ask people daily if they are on day 1 of anorexia? This convo is turning bizarre quick.
bittergaymark July 13, 2012, 3:28 pm
Again, how is this different than somebody constantly showing up battered and bruised? Seriously. How?
bagge72 July 13, 2012, 3:35 pm
Because there is actual proof, and it is easier to ask somebody what happened to them if the have an actual bruise. Would you assume that somebody was getting battered at home because they were afraid to talk to guys, and be alone in the same room as them… if there weren’t any bruises? That is pretty much what is going on here, her proof is very questionable.
bagge72 July 13, 2012, 3:28 pm
Right, apparently, you have to look after everyone you ever come in contact with now, and pry in to their lives to see if there is something you can help them with, because they do something different from you.
GatorGirl July 13, 2012, 2:51 pm
I’m totally with you. If you are concerned about someone you speak up. End of story.
bethany July 13, 2012, 4:30 pm
Just this week I stuck my hand in a moving ceiling fan and ran face first into a closed screen door (that somehow didn’t break). I have a bruised hand, and a swollen/bruised nose because of it. I’ve also been moving for the past few weeks, and am covered with bruises from moving boxes, furniture…
If a coworker who doesn’t really know me asked if I was getting abused, I’d laugh in their face.
bittergaymark July 13, 2012, 4:42 pm
Yeah, but if you did that every week?
bethany July 13, 2012, 4:51 pm
I’m ashamed to say, things like that happen to me more often than not.
Actually, I’ve had several Drs ask me about it before.
bittergaymark July 13, 2012, 5:00 pm
Yikes! Be more careful! 😉
Laura Hope July 13, 2012, 3:30 pm
Having been anorexic, there’s little doubt in my mind that this person is anorexic–not because of her appearance necessarily, but because of her behavior. Yes, this is classic anorexic behavior. And no, there is absolutely nothing you can do about it.
bittergaymark July 13, 2012, 3:36 pm
Maybe not. But I’d at least try…
GatorGirl July 13, 2012, 3:39 pm
Avoidance, denial, disordered eating, pushing your job/life to the side in order to hide your diseas. Yes. Yes and yes.
bagge72 July 13, 2012, 3:51 pm
Now I’m sure you both know a lot more about this than I do, because you have both experianced it, but where was the avoidance? There is no proof of denial unless you know for sure she is not eating breakfast or lunch, and many people will only eat breakfast and dinner, and if that is how she has always done it, then it’s not disordered eating, and she isn’t really pusing her life a side, or her job since this is a summer job while she is in college, and we have know idea if this is what she actually wants to do for a living, and this girl doesn’t hangout with her outside of work to know how this is affecting her personal life..
GatorGirl July 13, 2012, 4:11 pm
Well in my opinion avoiding career advancing lunches and saying things like “I’m hungry now, but I know in an hour I won’t be” and other excuses (not that there is proof that she has used other excuses) are ways to hide an ED.
I don’t know. I’m admittedly overly sensitive to issues surrounding potential eating disorders. I’d rather be safe than sorry and reach out to someone. (I must say you need to reach out with a lot of compasion and understanding and in my opinion not jokingly as the other co-worker did)
bagge72 July 13, 2012, 4:17 pm
Oh I don’t think you are over sensitive, because you have lived through it, and probably no more about it, I’m just trying to get a better understanding of why it is really clear to some people that she has an ED. And I’m not saying that she doesn’t have and ED, I just think there are so many other things that could be going on that somebody who isn’t even work friends with this person should just kind of back off.
bittergaymark July 13, 2012, 4:19 pm
It’s obvious to me, too. Who proudly announces to the entire office things like “I’m hungry now, but won’t be in an hour…” And then NEVER eats?
Lili July 13, 2012, 4:34 pm
THAT line was odd to me as well. I mean, if it was followed by…’but won’t be in an hour because Pizza Pete’s doesn’t open til 12:30 an thats effin dumb because everyday I’m hungry at 11:30!’ that makes sense to me, but otherwise, it really does sound like she has some issues with eating in public. It could be just severe social anxiety related to eating in public, I know some people have normal eating habits but their social anxiety cripples them in regards to food.
bagge72 July 13, 2012, 4:22 pm
She didn’t proudly annouce it, she is trying to get people to leave her alone, because she doesn’t feel the need to explain to people over and over again that she doesn’t eat lunch, just breakfast, and dinner.
bittergaymark July 13, 2012, 4:24 pm
No, go read it again, bagge72. That particular line is just described as a random comment she has made repeatedly around lunch time…
bagge72 July 13, 2012, 4:28 pm
Ah yes I see that now, I wonder if that is from people asking her so much though.
bittergaymark July 13, 2012, 4:38 pm
I dunno. Lunch was always a big topic of conversation at ALL my various jobs through out the years. No matter where I worked, people were always wanting to go out to lunch together…
sobriquet July 13, 2012, 3:38 pm
LW1: I’m not gonna be hella outraged, but come on. There are so many reasons that someone might skip lunch. I used to skip lunch all the time because I was so broke (and clearly too lazy to make something)! People have all kinds of food allergies these days. It really doesn’t matter how many meals you eat every day as long as you eat enough calories to, like, survive. Eating one single 1,500 calorie meal is certainly not the healthiest way of going about it, but still. Sure, she could have an eating disorder, but you know it’s not your place to say something. I can’t believe you thought about bringing this to the attention of your school! Histrionic, much?
This just reminds me that office jobs are the WORST. Coworkers used to comment on my weight all the time at my last job. Sure, it was meant to be complimentary, but still. It was annoying when the female coworkers did it and verging on sexual harassment when the male coworkers did. And I hate that I feel all humblebraggy when talking about this, but it seriously drove me crazy. Unless someone opens the line of communication about their body (say, they talk about dieting, trying to lose weight, etc), just don’t comment on it. Sounds like a good rule, no?
Also, just because when else can I post this? I learned in a recent nutrition class about a morbidly obese man who went on a twinkie diet. That’s all he ate. Twinkies. No nutritional value whatsoever. And that was actually healthy for him because at that point, all that mattered was that he lose weight. He needed to cut his calories down, even if that meant eating twinkies all day. Science, y’all.
bittergaymark July 13, 2012, 3:42 pm
And yet, the two people on this very board who have actually LIVED with eating disorders totally do think that the girl in question has one… But yeah, you’re probably right. The lW is just totally a meddlesome bitch…
sobriquet July 13, 2012, 3:53 pm
Oh, TOTALLY, such a bitch! Because everyone that makes an assumption and tries to get in the middle of someone’s personal life is just such a fucking bitch. Jeez, dude.
I said that she certainly could have an eating disorder. There are a lot of people in this country with serious food issues. But what the hell is she gonna do about it? Nothing. She never said the “signs of anorexia” included an extreme thinness. That’s kind of an important sign, yet it wasn’t mentioned. Going by everything in the letter, the LW is jumping to conclusions. Obese people are at a serious risk for health problems, just like anorexic people. Yet, would you walk up to an obese coworker and tell her that, you know, she’s just been eating too much and you’re worried about her and she could get diabetes or have a heart attack any day! Yeah, didn’t think so.
GatorGirl July 13, 2012, 4:17 pm
I would disagree that “extreme thinness” is highly important sign in regards to having an eating disorder. While being extremely thin was a sign in my eating disorder case, I have a friend who was bulimic and a completely “normal” body size wearing Medium tops and size 8 jeans. And obese individuals can be diagnosed with Disordered Eating a DSM recognized disease. People who compulsivly over eat, leading to their obesity, would fall under that category.
“Disordered eating affects 3 in 4 American women ages 25 to 45, according to a 2008 survey sponsored by SELF magazine in partnership with the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Disordered eaters may engage in excessive dieting, eating when not hungry, eating in secret, skipping meals and primarily eating fattening, over-processed, “comfort” or convenience foods.” http://www.huffingtonpost.com/susan-liddy-ma-pcc-cpcc/disordered-eating-obesity-anorexia_b_916703.html (admittedly not the best sorce)
bagge72 July 13, 2012, 3:55 pm
Actually there are a lot more people on this board who have an eating disorder and they all agree that the best thing to do is to not confront her.
Kristina July 13, 2012, 3:38 pm
I haven’t read any of the comments yet so maybe I am just repeating much of this.
LW1: It’s none of your business to ask your co-worker. You don’t know her well enough, plain and simple. It’s tricky for even close friends and relatives to ask someone who may or may not be anorexic. I have always been very thin my whole life, though I eat a ridiculous amount of food, and can’t keep the weight on because of health issues. I have to eat something every 2 hours at a bare minimum, so it’s rare I skip meals, though when I was younger I didn’t always eat as much due to pure stress. There was nothing wrong, and it sucks even now when I see some people that will say that I look so much better now, that I was too skinny back then, etc.
I’m not saying this co-worker doesn’t have a problem, but I am saying that for now, it’s none of your business to even ask–just imagine being on the other side of it.
If you are really concerned about this girl, I think the best way to go around this is befriend her. Let her open up to you. If she has a real problem, it will become obvious at a certain point. You can help guide her to a healthier way of eating (if it is a problem), but without ever mentioning words like,”You are too skinny”, “Are you anorexic?”, etc.
And LW3: The problem with telling someone who just left you that you are suicidal is that it is almost always seen as manipulative. Both people are too close to the situation and what’s going on to adequately help one another. My ex fiancé used to threaten to kill himself months after I left him, and I would ignore him, because I didn’t want to be roped in by that. In those situations, I think it’s best to turn to a professional or some sort of hotline, instead of the person who just left you. Once someone is your ex, they can’t be your crutch of emotional support. It’s unhealthy for both parties.
lets_be_honest July 13, 2012, 4:46 pm
All I know is Iwanna and I better start eating lunch at work!
Addie Pray July 13, 2012, 4:59 pm
God, I eat enough for all 3 of us.
iwannatalktosampson July 13, 2012, 5:04 pm
Ha I was kind of thinking the same thing. Apparently we have some questionable habits. I wonder if the women in my small office think I’m anorexic. But then I realize I’m not nearly skinny enough for anyone to worry about me.
Lili July 13, 2012, 5:39 pm
I have the opposite problem. I think I need to go to overeaters anonymous because I like to ask whats for lunch to EVERYONE headed out. And I complain about how deciding what to eat for a particular lunch is so daunting. Too many choices.
Anna July 14, 2012, 2:14 am
I just had another theory for LW1 – maybe your coworker is a vampire. Do her eyes go from gold to black by mid-week? Does she seem stronger or faster than everyone else in the office? Does she speak as if she’s from a different era? 🙂
Yes, I’m a Twilight addict.
bagge72 July 16, 2012, 10:27 am
*Those aren’t real vampires! Real vampires would not be out during the day, please refain from putting them in the same categorie! Blade, Bill, Eric, and any vampire from the Underworld series would have their way with them.
* I know there is no such thing as real vampires.
Budj July 16, 2012, 10:41 am
bagge72 July 16, 2012, 11:30 am
Yes really! and after watching the last Twilight film with my fiancee, I have to say it was probably one of the worst movies I have ever seen, just in general.
GTR July 16, 2012, 12:34 am
“I’ve dated a guy for almost two years. I am the happiest I’ve ever been, but there’s one issue that’s plaguing me: he has yet to introduce me to his family, and when we go out and he runs into people, he ‘doesn’t remember’ to introduce me.”
Introducing you is more important than anything they may have to talk about. The next time this happens, interupt their conversation, extend your hand to the other person and say, with a bright smile, “Hi, I don’t think we’ve met – I’m LW2, Guy’s partner.”
If Guy freaks out that you’re calling yourself his partner, tell him, “If you introduce me, you get to decide what to call me. If you don’t, I’ll take care of it.”
Also two years without meeting his family? That’s worse than ridiculous. Tell him you want to meet his mother at least. If he balks, get his phone while he’s in the shower, find her number, then call her later from your own phone and arrange a lunch date or something. He’s behaving abominably and he needs to be called on it.
The common thread here is that you need to take charge of your life and relationship.
melancholia October 4, 2012, 12:19 pm
LW #1… I wholeheartedly disagree with Wendy’s advice (sorry). Speaking as someone who is recovering from an eating disorder, I say this will full honesty and legitimacy: You should never ignore signs of an eating disorder. Have you noticed a decrease in her weight? Does she look abnormally thin? It’s typical of eating disorder sufferers to have damaged hair and nails and their face tends to look emaciated and “hollow”, because the body starts burning muscle so it can hold onto its fat source.
TRUST ME, there is nothing you have to lose for extending your concerns to someone you have legitimate concern for. Anorexia has the highest mortality rate of ANY MENTAL ILLNESS, not only that but “the mortality rate associated with anorexia nervosa is 12 times higher than the death rate of ALL other causes of death in females aged 15-24 years old” (According to the National Mental Health Department). Anorexia, bulimia or any kind of eating disorder is something a sufferer will always have to live with. It’s a mental illness. Could you imagine how awful you would feel if you found out your co-worker was admitted to the hospital for pre-mature heart failure and you never said anything? Take your pride and nervousness OUT of this equation and say something. What do you have to lose? She is an adult and can choose whether or not to take your advice and the help you may want to offer, OR she may not actually have an eating disorder. Either way, you are not at risk for anything, other than maybe some embarrassment for finding out she could be naturally thin and doesn’t eat during the day.
Speaking from someone who has lived with an eating disorder for years, the things she is saying, the situations you are noticing, are highly suspicious. All of those things are excuses and things I would say to my family, friends, co-workers when I was active in my eating disorder. Until my parents literally caught me red handed throwing up in the bathroom, I lied, cheated and did anything I could to hide my disorder. Because what comes with a severe distortion of reality and body image (not to mention a serious need for control), is a lot of shame, a lot of deception and a lot of sadness.
I would say something to this woman. Pull her aside and show your concern, but be prepared to face some opposition and show her you have noticed things that deeply concern you. Try to get to know her and be her friend. There is nothing worse than feeling alone while struggling with a deep, dark secret like an eating disorder. Besides, there is TONS of information on the internet for how you can help someone that is suffering from an eating disorder.
Lastly, to the people above who have chosen the advice for this woman to ignore these signs of an eating disorder… it’s people like you that turn their nose up and choose to ignore a serious problem that enable serious problems like eating disorders. That is why so many cases of eating disorders go unnoticed. What happened to genuinely caring about people in your life – whether you know them well or not? I think that if LW1 has some legitimate concerns that there is absolutely nothing wrong with saying something, anything. It is SO much worse to ignore these things and to allow a (possibly) serious condition just for the sake of feeling like you are “overstepping your boundaries”. People with eating disorders, or ANY mental disorder for that matter, need help and we need to be strong enough, and compassionate enough, to help them when we can.