Eating disorders are fueled by secrecy, lies, and shame. For that reason alone, even just the thought of talking about your struggles is extremely daunting. Unfortunately, with eating disorders, staying silent and keeping them a secret can have devastating effects.
Exhilarated. Terrified. Relieved. Trapped. Free.
Those were just some of the feelings I felt within minutes of saying for the first time,
I think I have an eating disorder.
As you can see, there were many contradictory emotions happening. It was evident that my healthy-self and my eating disorder- self were experiencing wildly different things at the same time.
What will everyone think?
Overall, I was glad that I had finally shared my burden with others. I had carried it in silence for an achingly long time. Yet, there were times when I regretted ever bringing it up and berated myself for it. “Nice job. Now you’ll be watched like a hawk and nobody will trust you.”
In moments like this, it is vital to remember that these feelings pass. I consider myself fortunate. My parents and the close friends I told over the coming days were genuinely concerned, curious, and eager to help.
It’s more them than you.
Over the years, I would come to experience many other reactions as well. Sometimes my secret was met with disbelief and I’d hear the dreaded response, “You don’t look like you have an eating disorder.” Other times it was met with frustration and anger, as in, “What’s wrong with you? Why would you do that to yourself?”
One of the most important things I learned along my journey was that a person’s reaction had so much more to do with them than it did with me.
And for the most part, how someone responded was out of my hands. Those who seemed angry with me were, in fact, often experiencing terror and helplessness themselves. Those who questioned me were sadly misinformed and uneducated about eating disorders.
Should I tell?
The desire to talk about your struggles will come and go. Some days it will feel like it’s going to burst out of your chest at any moment. Other days you’ll pull the blanket back over your head and vow to never say a word.
If you are considering sharing your secret, please take some time before and after to center yourself. Talking about having an eating disorder is a huge deal and you will need to be there for yourself more than anything. You may find it helpful to do a little journaling.
Consider the following prompts:
Why do you want to share your secret?
Why do you want to keep it hidden?
What might you gain by being honest? What might you lose by staying silent?
Working through questions like this may help you feel more ready to speak up – and you are so deserving of being heard. No one should have to suffer alone. Support is waiting.
I just did it. I wrote a post on Facebook and started it with “I have an eating disorder’. This is the first time I have ever honestly talked about it in a public way. I’m half relieved and half terrified but I’m glad I did it.
I’ve been thinking about it for a long time. I’m open about my struggles with depression and anxiety, but I haven’t been open about my struggle with ED. Why? Because I don’t ‘look like’ I have an eating disorder. I didn’t want to have to explain or justify myself. I didn’t want to have to deal with all the people who say things like ‘everyone struggles with this’ and ‘everyone overindulges sometimes’ and ‘everyone dislikes their body’. I didn’t want to have to explain that what I’m fighting is nothing like that at all; it is orders of magnitude worse than that.
It’s just reached the point in my life where I want to stop hiding and fighting my demons alone. I need support from those around me, so I have to speak up about my struggles. I feel really vulnerable and brave and scared. But putting it out there is making me feel stronger.
Lisa — That’s SO amazing! You are extremely deserving of help and support. It makes sense that you feel vulnerable, scared, and also brave and strong. I’m super proud of you. Keep an eye out for how your eating disorder will respond to this in the coming days, weeks, and so forth. Challenge those negative thoughts…because you ARE worth it.
Wishing you all the best!
Incredible tons of good knowledge!