When she told us of her newfound wheat allergy we accepted it for what is was and began on the road to helping her adjust her life and be wheat free. This was our first mistake.

You see, when your friend comes to you with a life changing issue you want to do your best to help them, to support them, and to make it better. This is what we did. We helped her go shopping for things that fit into her diet and tried to support her by eating wheat free ourselves so that she would feel more comfortable, and so that she would feel like she wasn’t alone. When she threw up we said to ourselves, “Damn! There must have been wheat in something,” and just like that we were fooled into becoming supporters of her eating disorder.

Days and weeks passed by, and even I had lost some weight since my diet had now changed. We said things like, “You look great,” and “Wow, you’ve never looked better,” and were thrilled at the fact that we could now share clothes. To us it was insignificant; however, to her it was the gas that kept fueling the fire. It got worse and worse, and we were so far in that we had no idea what was happening, what we were being a part of and what we were supporting. It felt like everyday someone brought up her new size, and when we took a trip home to visit our childhood friends, everyone hovered around her with compliments and praises on how they’d never seen her look better.

It didn’t take me much longer to finally realize what was going on. I started to see all the signs, but didn’t want to admit that my best friend might have an eating disorder. Sometimes, what one sees in the mirror can be overpowering. We love her and we think that she is beautiful, so why doesn’t she see the same? I didn’t hear the voice in my head telling me what was right and what was wrong. Until I let that voice scream through, I spent months helping my best friend starve herself to death.

Subconsciously, I believe that I knew that something was happening, but I didn’t know what to do to make it better. ED was the spark and the fire, the doubt and the unhappiness, but we were the gas that kept is going, because we didn’t stand up and tell our friend that she was beautiful just the way she was. Don’t make the same mistake. Know the signs. If you even think there is a possibility your friend is living like this, talk to them. Even if you don’t think that they have an eating disorder, don’t be afraid to tell your friends they are beautiful, special, or appreciated. I was a lucky one, I snapped into reality in time for a second chance and helped my friend get the help she needed.

Alyssa is a early childhood assistant, a member of the young Canadians round table on heath, involved with Boys and Girls Clubs of Canada’s National Youth Council and is working on her dream of becoming a motivational speaker. You can find Alyssa on Twitter: @alyyframpton