I recently published an article reflecting on my 12 year battle with anorexia. It was very honest and for a lot of the people I know, it was their first time hearing my story in its entirety. There were details in the piece that I rarely even share with my closest friends. For many, the idea of sharing something so personal in such a public way would be terrifying. It used to be scary for me as well but I’m not afraid to share my story anymore. I learned to let the shame around my eating disorder go a long time ago because my life depends on doing so.
Here are 4 reasons why being open about my eating disorder strengthens my daily recovery:
1. Triggers exist everywhere for people with eating disorders
We live in a culture where people are often overindulged with food. Being around food in public spaces and sharing meals with others can be very overwhelming for someone fighting a disease, or newly in recovery. While it may not always be appropriate to share my struggles in the moment, it certainly helps me get through hard meals when I am able to openly tell my friends and family when I’m feeling uncomfortable or overwhelmed. When I am triggered and need to take a pause, I just say so and they understand because they know why. It is nice not to have to pretend that my relationship with food is normal all the time.
2. Our culture is obsessed with dieting and body image
When my friends and family overshare their own dieting or body shaming talk, I feel comfortable telling them that these aren’t conversations they can have with me. The conversation ends there, it is a strong form of self-care for me not to partake in these conversations and no further explanation is ever needed.
**People who have suffered from eating disorders of any kind are never the ones to have dieting and body image conversations with!
3. Honesty helps others
I wouldn’t have the successful recovery that I have today if other people hadn’t shared their stories with me along the way. These recovery warriors have been my teachers, allies and trusted friends. When my recent story was published, I received messages from people who I didn’t even know were battling with their own body image and discomfort around food. They thanked me for my honesty and shared their own personal stories with me. If I hadn’t published that article, those conversations never would have happened. Hopefully, now there are few more people in my network who know they can reach out to me next time they are struggling.
Which leads me to…
4. Honesty strengthens our connection with others
This a universal truth – all forms of honesty connects people. Because I am so well versed in talking about my disease from years and years of practice in therapy, rehab, and 12 step meetings, I am now able to comfortably and openly discuss it with almost anyone. My recovery from anorexia is a large part of my personal narrative and understanding who I am as a person. There is power in letting go of shame through honesty. I believe that the same goes for anyone who has been through something equally challenging, be it any form of addiction, trauma, or loss.
My ongoing recovery is the strongest, most humble, authentic part of me. It is my greatest accomplishment in life. During times when I’m down on myself or feel like I am not enough, I reflect on how hard I fought to be the healthy, brave, recovered person that I am today. Why on earth would I want to hide that from anybody?
Photo Credit: ©2016 Corina Corina