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Why I Haven't, Won't and Don't Plan on Hiding My Eating Disorder From My Little Sister

Editor’s note: If you live with an eating disorder, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “NEDA” to 741-741.

Involving family in your recovery is probably a good idea if it is beneficial, but what if that family is your little sister who is 12 years younger than you? Is that too young to involve your sister in your eating disorder and your recovery?

I didn’t keep the fact I have an eating disorder secret while in recovery.

My sister came with me the day I was admitted, she came to two of my family weekends, and after meals she would sometimes accompany me to the bathroom, where we would sing songs and laugh.

Why would I involve my 12-year-old sister in something that could be so raw and vulnerable, you might ask.

Her life currently consists of pointe work, competitions and teaching ballet to little kids. She could very well be in my shoes in a few short years and is susceptible to also struggling with an eating disorder.

If there is the possibility she could struggle, I want to be honest and open with her about my struggles so she can acknowledge it before it consumes her. That doesn’t mean she won’t hide it or is sheltered from it, but knowing it is OK to talk about it and seek help if her eating or thought process becomes disordered.

I reassure her that eating when you are hungry is great, that it is necessary to eat before and/or after practice. That there aren’t “good” or “bad” foods; that regardless if our mom eats, or what she eats, we need to eat and be OK with it. When your sister makes comments like, “Mom can eat whatever she wants, and always stays so tiny,” you know it is crucial to reinforce that it doesn’t matter and you need to fuel your body.

young woman and little sister smiling on rocks behind waterfall

Rather than silently struggling for years like I did, and denying I ever had a problem, I want her to be able to speak up, allow me to help, and attempt to nip it in the bud before it overgrows inside of her.

That is why I choose to involve my little sister in something that could be considered taboo or shameful.

I want my sister to realize there is no guilt or shame in struggling, and being open with your struggles. I want her to realize an eating disorder is nothing to be ashamed of or silent about.

If you or someone you know is struggling with an eating disorder, you can call the National Eating Disorders Association Helpline at 1-800-931-2237.

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