Fans were extremely concerned about Whitney Thore‘s best friend and roommate Buddy Bell during this season of My Big Fat Fabulous Life. He spent the first half of Season 5 off camera while he went to seek treatment at a rehab facility to overcome his cocaine addiction, and in an exclusive interview with Life & Style, Whitney opened up about what it was like to see her friend — who she affectionately refers to as “boo bear” — struggle with something so serious.

“Well, it was just really hard. I mean, it’s hard to realize that someone that not only you were so close to but that was living with you was struggling with something and you didn’t know and you couldn’t help,” Whitney revealed to Life & Style. “It makes you feel really powerless. So I’m just so proud of him, he’s still clean and sober, he’s doing amazing.”

She went on to explain that all of her friends felt that there was something wrong with Buddy but they didn’t know what it was because he kept it a secret for so long. Whitney said she thought Buddy may have just been depressed, but she had no inkling that he was struggling with drug addiction.

“It was just shocking and difficult to feel like I wish I could have done more,” Whitney continued. “I think you start to kind of blame yourself — like, why didn’t I see the signs? Or could I be more supportive?”

But Whitney and Buddy had a heart to heart during the cast’s trip to Hawaii — which was Buddy’s first sober vacation after he completed rehab. She wanted Buddy to know that she didn’t know that he was struggling because she didn’t want him to think that she didn’t care enough to try to help — and he completely took ownership of his addiction and his behavior.

Buddy was especially brave to share his journey to sobriety on the show, and Whitney admitted that she was worried at first about how opening up his life more to the TLC cameras would affect his progress, but she said the entire experience has been nothing but positive.

“The thing with Buddy is [it’s] really amazing to see people behind him and supporting him,” she said. “At first I thought, ‘Oh my gosh, is this going to be a lot of added pressure for him?’ And it really made me nervous, but also in a way I think it’s been good and I think it’s given him even more purpose and direction in terms of inspiring other people — and I think that’s amazing.”

Be sure to tune into My Big Fat Fabulous Life, airing Tuesdays at 8 p.m. on TLC.