Admitting to yourself that you have a problem is one of the hardest steps to take in the recovery process. Admitting to someone else that you have a problem is the hardest step to take in the recovery process.
Or, at least I hope.
Since most people with eating disorders feel embarrassed and ashamed, the thought of telling someone can be absolutely petrifying as we fear how they will react when we tell them. When taking this step, be sure that you choose to tell someone whom you trust and feel comfortable talking with. Many people start by telling a close friend or their family doctor. I remember when I first “came out of the eating disorder closet”, it was my friend, Mallory, whom I told. Although, at the time, I don’t think either of us thought it was a big deal, the fact that I told her regardless of how severe we thought it was was a huge step for me.
Whether you choose to tell your family, aunt, uncle, spouse, sibling, whatever the case may be, keep in mind it is impossible for you to predict how anyone will react. The only way you can find out is by taking the risk and revealing your eating disorders to someone.There is a possibility that the person you tell may be shocked, saddened, supportive, upset, worried, or may even cry. The person you tell might not even know how to react; they may need a few days to process the information. However, these emotions they may show are only because they care. No matter what the reaction is, remember that this person may need a few days to sit with the information you just gave them. When telling someone, make sure to bring information about eating disorders to give to that person. That way they can have the chance to read and educate themselves about what eating disorders are and how to be helpful to you.
Unfortunately, in life we are not always faced with people who are understanding. Sometimes people cannot grasp the severity of an eating disorder. When someone is not educated about eating disorders and has no understanding, they can sometimes be cruel and say hurtful things. This can be difficult to have happen but try to remind yourself that this person has never walked a day in your shoes and that they just simply do not know. Try not to take it as a personal hit. You can still give that person information to read and hope they learn something from it.
Telling someone takes a lot of courage and you should be proud of yourself each time you do it. I know for me, once I started telling more people about my eating disorder, I started to feel a great sense of relief; like my burdens were released and I could finally take a break from it all. I felt less isolated, less shameful, and less alone. Sometimes just sitting down with someone and saying, “Dude, I’m fucked up. I need help”, is one way of getting it right out in the open. If you find it too difficult to say what you’re struggling with verbally, you can always choose to write a letter to the person you want to tell and let them know that way. If you have decided to first tell a therapist, you can always choose to have the therapist present with you when you decide to talk to family members and friends. That way, the therapist could be there to answer questions, explain what eating disorders are, and how they can be helpful to you in your journey to recovery.
The “coming out” phase is usually when we find out which people are going to be part of our support system. By people’s reactions and how they feel, you can decide for yourself which people you want to help and which people you do not want to help. Having family members in your support system is great however that does not always happen at first. It can be painful if you do not have their support but remember that with things like support groups and online recovery forums, there are other people available to help you. Always. It is important that you do what is best for you and your recovery.
Recovery takes time and it can be a long road, but it is a road worth taking.