February 22, 2013 - submitted by Christine, United States of America

Lately I've realized that my best friend hasn't really been the same. After a breakup with her boyfriend a few months ago, her behavior has changed. She used to always be in a cheerful mood but now she doesn't seem to care about anyone or anything. She almost seems like she's angry most of the time when I'm around her. Another thing is that she's almost completely stopped eating. I rarely see her eat anything anymore and she is skinny enough as it is. Today she told me that she had lost nearly fifteen pounds in just a few months, making her weight drop almost to the double digits. It's been scaring the living hell out of me. I want to do something but I don't know what and I'm worried about how she would react if I told her that I thought she hadn't been herself for these past few months. I'm just very upset and worried about her right now and I don't know what to do. Can you please help me?

The Oracle replies:

I will assume that this is your first experience of a break-up because sadly, your friend is reacting like so many people do after the experience.
I'm sure she knows so doesn't need anyone to tell her that her behaviour has changed. Break-ups are very much like a bereavement and she is going through a grieving process.
The best thing you can do is be there for her, support her, encourage her to go out, to talk, to listen and generally pick up the pieces. You can't force her to eat and the appetite does diminish but you could gently coax her to eat small things; things you know she likes. If she says she doesn't want to, you can't force her but gently tell her she needs to keep her strength up - we all need fuel. It's obviously a natural reaction to worry about her but hopefully she will come through this with time. It can take a long time too so try to be patient.
I also think you should tell her that you're trying to understand but are finding it hard and ask her to explain what she's feeling. If you're brave, ask her why she thinks she's stuck and not moving forward. Sometimes people stay in a place longer than they personally need to for all sorts of reasons. Talking may help you both.
It truly is a hideous experience and it's very hard on those around the person going through it as they can feel pretty helpless. If you can distract her - make her laugh, go to the cinema, listen to music, ANYTHING, you'll be doing the best you can.
Over to you.

Probably the best advise I've heard in situations like this is to tell someone. A person you and her both trust. Her parents, your parents, a counselor, or someone of that nature. Also, just let her know that you are there for her. Do some of the things she used to love to do. Maybe even you could sit down and chat with her. Just little things. Don't get into anything serious like her losing all that weight. Chelsea.

I'm just as worried as you are and I don't even know her. I'd hate to say it, but the only thing you can do is to confront her about it. However, don't be so "head-on" with your approach. I'm sure if you're her best friend she would want your company and wouldn't shove you away. If she does, then talk to her parents about what's going on. I'd be crazy to ignore help from my friends, especially during a time like this. Also, I'm assuming she's extremely depressed so comfort her when, and if you can. I hope it all works out for you Christine.
Billy N.

Don't ever mind about your friend's reaction, If she is truly your best friend, her health and happiness are more important than her reaction. Be sure dear Christine that your friendship is more important than what she was living.
Have no fear, trust God, He will help you. She surely knows that you love her, A girl can never split with her sister because of advice and in my point of view, I think that she would re-think about what she is doing with your mood and her health.
Your friend is waiting for your smile and support. Your friendship is a golden one and is the most important and not something that could guide her to be insane or sick. Hasnaa.

How true your friend may get upset if you say something, but you can prepare yourself, get over the initial shock of her reaction, and then allow her to open up to share with you. After a breakup, it can feel like your whole world is falling down. She would probably enjoy some light-hearted girl time. Maybe take her out and about, show her the positive side of life, and try some new things. She may have a serious eating disorder along with depression, neither of which should be taken lightly. This is often about controlling your own body when it feels like the rest of life is completely out of control. Another terrible side of this is “nervosa” so your friend may be pushing herself, amped up without food, and then crashing and burning, and tumbling down mentally. Food is a wonderful part of the joy of life and you can also share that with her. She must find her very own balance of life without the boyfriend to get back to normal. I would strongly suggest that you ask her to get professional help, at least in the form of a counselor, and even offer to take her, because it can be super difficult to take this step on one’s own. She needs continuous help, or she really might slip back into her old ways. You also need to take care, because depressed people can also suck you down and you can’t make the changes for her. A.M.

You must help her, the best way is to let it vent, reassure her. She must see that she is not alone, and that her life is no less important than a boyfriend and her happiness should not depend on someone else. Many people cross in the life and the road is long. She'll feel better knowing she has a great friend who will never leave her alone and cares for her. Also keep in mind that you will help her but she can not have that so quick smile before, she is very sad and you must give her heart time to heal. Noodle.

Her break up might be a reason for her behavior, but you really won't know unless you talk to her about it. Even then, she might not open up so it will take patience but the important thing is to bring it up and spark conversation about it. Encourage her to see a doctor about how she is feeling and how it's affected her physical health. The fact that she told you about her abnormal weight loss seems to me like a cry for help. Whether she wanted to lose the weight or not, she either doesn't know what to make of it, or is trying to reach out. Either way, she would need your help and support. You can suggest for her to see a doctor about the weight loss and bring up emotional/ mental health which could be a component. You seem like a very good friend, I admire you for caring so deeply. Wish you and your friend the best. Love, Darem.

Christine your friend is so lucky to have you in her life, you so obviously care about her! My advice is to tell her how worried you are, and that as her friend you want to support her. And i hope she is able to listen and really hear what you are trying to say… sometimes a relationship break-up can damage self-esteem so much that self-worth and self-love plummet/go-out-the-window. And even though she is acting aloof I believe she appreciates and really needs her friends around her and supporting her. Perhaps now she worries that she is unattractive or unlovable, and is afraid that even her friends won’t/don’t find her fun to be around anymore.… maybe that’s why she doesn’t interact with you, and why she is not eating - trying to somehow gain control back/strive to be a person that others want to be around. Whatever the case may be, she definitely needs love and support from family, friends, and professionals (ie a mental health team/doctor). And she definitely needs your friendship. You are a wonderful friend Christine and I believe that friendship, love, care, and support can help her through this tough time. I will be thinking of you both! Cali.

You do need to tell her that you're worried . She may get mad at you but being a friend means sometimes we have to put up with being yelled at. Maybe she doesn't even realize how different she has become, maybe she thinks all that darkness is inside her and nobody can notice. Maybe she desperately wants help but doesn't want to ask for it. Maybe she tries to appear strong so she believes it herself; maybe she thinks a broken heart deserves some mourning period. I know it is a huge cliché, but you just need to be there for her. There is not much you can actually do, but to be present when she needs you; and listen to whatever she has to say. I've been in a similar situation and I must have gotten on all my friends' nerves because I was going on and on about the love I've lost, and they kept listening to me; waiting with me until I can be myself again. They were also worried because I was losing a lot of weight. One of them bluntly asked me daily if I've eaten , the other one kept inviting me for lunch, and both methods worked. So being there for your friend can work in that regard as well - try to have meals together with her. It won't be easy for either of you, but at the end you will have your friend back, and she will be grateful. Kata.

That is something that deserves to be called a friendship: seeing your friend is in trouble and you really want to do something for her.
You’re right that it won’t be easy to awake her out of her state. Saying she is your best friend - when you talk to her let her know it and avoid phrases like “don’t do this or you mustn’t do that”, but explain to her that you are worried about her and - carefully - tell her what you are noticing. Especially concerning to visible changes we often can’t realize ourselves like others can do that.
Probably words will have less effect than doings. She seems to be in a state of shock because of the break up. How is it about family, friends? Are there others to include? Not to preach to her, but to invite her, to involve her to activities, maybe to entrust to her any task she is talented for and wants to do. In the beginning you all would have to stand her bad mood for sure. Though I think she has to feel being important and accepted again, then she will find back being herself - as far as it is necessary for her psychological and physical health. All the best. L.Q.

Her change in mood and cheerfulness is most likely due to her breakup. Likewise, her change in eating habits are also a product of her feelings. Her behavior sounds like she is experiencing an eating disorder. When extremely stressed, people can feel like they are not in control of their lives, so they unconsciously begin to reduce the amount of food they consume in order to regain a sense of control. These can develop to be life threatening, so confront her about it as soon as possible. She might need to consult a doctor or therapist, depending on the severity. Make sure you approach her in a delicate and comforting way, so that she will open up to you about what is happening in her life. Let her know that you are concerned for her and want to see her happy and healthy. Offer to take steps together to help get her back on her feet. Warm regards, Blake.

Whatever you do, don't say what my Dad said. He hated to see me in pain but had no idea how to help or what to say so he was forever saying the most inappropriate things that put so much pressure on me and I felt worse! "C'mon, it's been months now, pull yourself together" - that kind of thing. It was awful. All I needed was love & support. People to understand and accept I was hurting like hell. I didn't eat because I couldn't and didn't feel like doing anything so hopefully your friend will when she is up to it. Just look after her, she needs her friend. Dee.

Thanks to all those who replied to this week’s question. Remember, Team Oracle is open to anyone so if you fancy replying, click to read this week's, and send us your answer.