I've been asked to make a post about telling people about their EDs through twitter. I wanted to post it last week, but this is such an important topic I wanted to make sure to do a good job with this piece.
Struggling with a mental illness is very difficult. The stigma surrounding mental illnesses has always been a huge barrier for me when I wanted to open up about my eating disorder. I struggled for almost 4 years before I decided to get help and open up. It was a terrifying thing to do.
I tried to open up a few times in highschool. I mentioned to my friends that I had binged and purged, but got scared and told them I wasn't doing that anymore and that I was better and everything was okay.
Coming clean for real was a long process which I did it in several steps. I first told my boyfriend at the time that I had struggled in the past. This was in September of my first year at university. I managed to not binge or purge once all of September. But then as midterms came rolling in I ate about 1/2 a pound of chocolate and cheesecake. I quickly went to the pharmacy and bought some laxatives and took a couple. At this point I realized how quickly my eating disorder could take off, as having a single residence room made it incredibly easy to hide behaviors. I told my boyfriend that I messed up and needed him to take me to the anonymous peer support group on campus. After talking to them and blurting out my life story, I get referred to a therapist at my student wellness center (which is thankfully free!). After a month or two of working with her, I got comfortable enough to tell my parents, which I did over thanksgiving. I am very thankful to have supportive parents who told me to continue therapy and school and were willing to help. At this point I had yet to take a turn for the worst though. The people I really wanted to tell though were my new friends as they seemed like such a great group of non-judgmental people. Luckily for me they were. I opened up slowly, first telling them about how I was in therapy, how I had anxiety, and how I stress eat. It wasn't until mid-December, when I took to many laxatives after a post-workout binge/purge session and woke up extremely dehydrated that I fully told people what was happening. With exams coming up, I was getting worse not better. Therapy was helping but it couldn't stop the avalanche that was a bout to hit me. I went to the emergency room with a friend and told her what had happened. When I came back, I told my other close friend. They were both more supportive then I could have ever imagined.
There have been a lot of ups and downs since then, regarding my relationships and sometimes I wish I could take all my secrets back. I am now very open about my eating disorder, most people do know that I struggle, or at least am very particular about food and worry about my body image. I find it a lot better now. If people are going to judge me because of my struggles, I would rather know before I got too far into the relationship.
That being said, some people didn't react so well. I've been told to 'just eat', 'don't puke that's gross', 'but you're skinny', 'you're smarter than that' and 'you need you're an athlete' several times. Not everyone will understand, and not everyone will be supportive. But that is okay. What matters is that you find those that are.
Here is a pro/con chart I made if you are thinking about opening up to someone:
Good luck telling people, and if you need any advice comment below, or reach me through twitter! I love you guys all so much and you all deserve an amazing support group, both online and in real life.