Annie's Mailbox: Friend showing eating problems

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Dear Annie: I'm a junior in high school. Two years ago, I was dating "Janie" and noticed she had some eating problems. She threw away the lunches her mom made and spent a lot of time in the bathroom. Then things seemed to get back to normal, and I forgot about it.

Janie and I aren't going out anymore, but we're still friends. Several of us are worried she is showing signs of slipping back into her old habits. Although we want to help, we also know she is only doing this for attention, and we're offended that she would behave so dangerously to get our sympathy.

I have no idea how to handle this situation. Please help.

- Lost in Ohio

Dear Ohio: Janie may be doing this for attention, but the fact that she needs to behave so radically to get it indicates underlying emotional problems. Anorexia and bulimia are serious health risks. Please suggest she contact the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Eating Disorders (anad.org), P.O. Box 640, Naperville, IL 60566.

Dear Annie: My old roommate from college is beginning to cause a huge problem. "Sandy" was promiscuous in school, and there were many nights I crashed on a neighbor's couch due to being "sexiled."

Five of us still get together once a week for a girls' night out. Sandy always ruins the evening and becomes hysterical, saying she was raped in college. We are all dumbfounded when she does it. The rape she's referring to allegedly happened at a party where she was never out of my sight. I saw her get into a verbal argument with some guy on the porch, after which she stormed back inside, insisted she'd been raped and demanded to be taken to the hospital.

On the ride there, her story changed three times, and at the hospital, she refused a rape kit. She then said she wasn't raped. The rest of our college life, her story kept changing - she was raped, she was almost raped, she was beaten but got away.

Last year, Sandy decided the alleged rapist is a close friend of mine. She is unaware that "Dave" is gay and was out of the country when she claims he attacked her. He is now a teacher at a local school, and he and his husband are in the process of adopting a baby. Sandy has confronted Dave in public several times, and he's bewildered by her behavior. She constantly tells me she's going to inform his boss that he raped her.

I suspect Sandy fabricated the rape story to cover up a deeper wound. But if she keeps it up, she could ruin Dave's life. He doesn't know what he's been accused of.

Should I tell him?

- Worried Friend

Dear Worried: Yes. He needs to protect himself. But it is obvious that Sandy has some serious mental health issues that should be addressed for everyone's sake. An accusation of rape, if true, must go through the courts. If false, Sandy owes it to herself to work out the reasons behind it. Tell her you know she is hurting, and suggest she talk to a therapist before she destroys a great many lives, including her own. Offer to go with her, if necessary.

Dear Annie: This is for "Upset in Michigan," who complained that many people didn't RSVP to her daughter's wedding.

When my daughter has a party, she sends the invitations with a self-addressed stamped postcard with their name and address on one side and on the other side, two lines: "Will be attending the party" and "Will not be attending the party." All the recipient needs to do is check one of the boxes and mail the postcard back.

I hope you will print this, as it might be helpful for someone.

- Ohio

Dear Ohio: As anyone who has sent such cards with wedding invitations will tell you, they do not, unfortunately, guarantee a response.

Annie's Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please e-mail your questions to anniesmailbox@comcast.net, or write to: Annie's Mailbox, P.O. Box 118190, Chicago, IL 60611.

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