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How do you know if a person is bulimic?

My son's best friend is staying with us for the summer. He's 18 years old and very skinny. We have to make him eat but he spends a lot of time in the bathroom. He's goes in for a long tome, flushes the toilet and then stays longer and then flushes the toilet again. My son says when they are both in the room and John goes to the bathroom he turns the water on. I see all of this as signs but I could be wrong. I talked with his mother about it and she says she doesn't believe that's what he's doing because she use to be bulimic and that John doesn't clean behind himself good enough and would leave behind evidence. But we've never gone into the bathroom behind him to check. This is scary and I don't know what to do.

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Asked by sandscott at 9:31 AM on Jul. 12, 2009 in Adult Children (18+)

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Answers (10)
  • Check the bathroom for evidence first, look at his hands/fingers to see if there's a scar from his teeth where they scrape his fingers. The signs are probably pointing to yes.
    However, are you sure he just doesn't have a gastrointestinal problem, like irritable bowel syndrome or something, that he's in the bathroom all the time?

    Answer by jmpeskie at 10:29 AM on Jul. 12, 2009

  • when i was bullimic, i used a toothbrush to make myself throw up.
    if your making him eat, it sounds like hes anorexic, but you make him eat so then he throws up. thats how i was too in a way. most of the time i wouldnt eat, but occasionally i would be at a family holiday party and have to eat, or i would just go crazy and binge eat a bunch of food, and then throw up. and yes, i would flush the toilet once when it filled up with throw up and then start again because if u dont, your new throw up hits your old throw up and it splashes up in your face. and i would also run the water while i threw up.
    thats kind of fucked up that his mom doesnt seem to care. what else can you do? i dont know.

    Answer by PURPULbutterfly at 11:43 AM on Jul. 12, 2009

  • @ purpulbutterfly- I cannot and will not put judgment on his mother. The great thing is that she trusts me enough to send him down here to me. So I commend her for that. I just happen to be around more and I'm very observant. You have to know the situation before making judgment. I want to thank you though for sharing your story with me. I believe you just helped save a life. So what was your turning point, if you don't mind me asking?

    @ impeskie- I will look into those other possibilities. He told my son that he knows his mother is behind all this making him eat stuff. In front of us he doesn't eat much but when we're sleep I think he's eating a lot. I bought a jar of jelly last week and it's all gone! I got up this morning and it seems he cooked a steak sandwich at some point and time while I was sleep. I praying my son was up as well. I'm waiting for his mother to send the insurance card. Thanks!

    Answer by sandscott at 5:49 AM on Jul. 13, 2009

  • Purple
    Don't judge the mom. While you suffered with the disease you have never seen your child suffer. She may be in total denial or blind to the fact, if he truly is sick. Its hard to accept the fact that your baby is slowly killing himself. Yes logically she should do soemthing but if she refuses to believe it then there is nothing to be done. My parents let my depression and cutting go for two years. They "believed" my line about the cat scratching me all the time. They even figured it was just my new active life style that led to my weight loss and not the fact that I wasn't eating. WHen I fell out at band camp, they finally realized what I was doing. They could no longer deny it.
    Are they "f*ed up" too? No they just didn't want to see that I was in pain, and frankly I preferred it that way. SO do not judge that mother, you have no idea what its like.

    Answer by katzmeow726 at 9:40 AM on Jul. 13, 2009

  • I know it's an awkward topic to discuss, but maybe you should just talk to him about it? Or better yet, have your son talk to him about it since they are best friends -- might be better coming from him.

    Answer by DCchick06 at 10:07 AM on Jul. 13, 2009

  • When my husband and I discovered my MIL was bulimic it was because there were several signs...the first sign was that she is extremely thing. It's a very unattractive, unhealthy thin. She also ONLY eats pizza and she eats it AT NIGHT. She never eats in front of people. She MIGHT pick at your plate (so annoying) but she never has a plate of food herself. So every night, my FIL makes a plate of some kind of pizza (hot pockets, pizza rolls, frozen pizza) and takes it up to their room WITH a bottle of maalox. Now, I know that that much pizza will give anyone heartburn...but we think it's very fishy that she goes through BOTTLES of Maalox a week. Also, she has very bad teeth and VERY, VERY bad broken blood vessels all over her body (may be from she smokes an extreme amount...) but we're pretty sure she's bulimic...she ALSO told me that night before my wedding that i was severely over weight. 170 and 5'6..that is NOT fat

    Answer by discokittten at 11:52 AM on Jul. 13, 2009

  • Thank you all for your support! Okay I I had a talk with his Mom today while I was at work. The conversation was more understandable than the last time. She still feels he's not bulimic. She says he's addicted to sugar. So He eats what he wants when he wants. She told me that he's been to counseling but he will only discuss things up to a certain point. When I got home from work I called his Mom and put her on the loud speaker so he could hear. She told him that if someone else is concerned about his eating habits, without her ever mentioning it to me, that should motivate him to reevaluate his eating pattern. He agreed to getting a physical and have his organic levels checked for possible vitamin deficiency. . I asked him if he was throwing up his food. His answer was "I just have a funny way of eating." I did not look at his figures...I don't want to scare him away.

    Answer by sandscott at 5:00 PM on Jul. 13, 2009

  • well if you dont eat alot when you eat it goes through you, so have him eat in front of you or in the car where he cant run to the bathroom. My son is a see threw super skinny stick at 20 yrs old but so am i at 40.

    Answer by lawla at 9:03 PM on Jul. 20, 2009

  • maybe he has something else. Could have IBS and just have to use the bathroom because of his IBS often,

    Answer by aameliaz at 1:44 AM on Jul. 28, 2009

  • He is doing much better now thanks! He is receiving the help that he needs. I'm grateful that we got to him when we did. Thanks again for all of your help. Take care.

    Answer by sandscott at 6:52 AM on Jul. 29, 2009

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