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 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 would berate 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.