Mental illnesses have a pretty hefty genetic component, so it's not uncommon for them to run in families (I can't quote studies, but this blog and this blog probably can). Knowing that is one thing, facing it is another.
A couple of years ago my mother told me my cousin was starting to have problems with food. She was about sixteen at the time, high-achieving, a phenomenal cross-country runner. I nearly started crying - we were in public - because I hated to think of anyone, much less someone I knew and cared for, fighting the same thing I was.
Today, at Sunday dinner at my grandparents', my aunt started talking about the latest challenge they'd been thrown. My cousin's nutritionist had told her she has a "large frame," because when she tries to circle her wrist with the pinky and thumb of the opposite hand, they don't touch. Frankly, that makes me question the nutritionist's credentials; in any case, my cousin does not have a large frame. She gave her a goal weight based on that oh-so-scientific measure, and understandably my cousin is freaking out. The words seemed to pour out of my aunt, and she teared up.
Mom and I told her about some of my own experiences, but I'm not sure if they'd be of any help. Mental illnesses can share the same name, but they're expressed in so many different ways. I don't know if I should do anything else. Would it be crossing a line? I imagine the last thing my cousin wants is one more person asking her about the issue. And lord knows I'm not perfect (re the food-journal and consistent body-hatred issue). At the same time, I've come a hell of a long way - maybe some of the keys that fit my locks might fit hers, too.
So I don't know. Any suggestions?