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Why I Will No Longer Keep My Eating Disorder a Secret

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A secret — something often tied to feelings of shame or embarrassment. Something you would only tell to your closest friends or family members, or maybe keep it to yourself forever. Something that should never be known by the public.

Well, everyone knows my secret – and it was my choice.

For about half of my life, my eating disorder was something I kept hidden, but unfortunately, hiding it gave it a sanctuary. Since nobody knew, it could easily continue to exist until the external symptoms gave it away. And I came to realize that I could not fully recover until I left it without a place to hide.

So I posted on Facebook about my history and my commitment to recovery. I had seen others post about their journeys before, but I was worried that people would think of me differently after they knew. After all, I wasn’t just telling my close friends my deepest secret – I was also telling that girl I met at summer camp, that guy from my middle school theater class, and the family friends from holiday parties.

I didn’t want to be known only as the girl with the eating disorder.

So I became the girl who harnessed the power of words. The girl with the wild imagination. The girl who always had a bad joke or pun. The girl with the nose ring. The girl with the leadership potential. The girl who liked alternative music. The girl who savored the outdoors. I made sure there was more that defined me other than my struggles.

So what is it like to go through life knowing that everyone I meet knows my secret? It has definitely made me a lot more careful. Friends will come to me asking for advice on how to help themselves or their friends battling similar issues. It makes me more aware of the ways that I talk about food and dieting around others. I realize I have the power to change the way we discuss these common topics.

It still makes me wonder if others are watching what I eat and think differently of me. It is as if food has become fragile — I have to try twice as hard to show that I won’t fall to pieces if someone wants to converse about their meal.

But it has made me free. It allowed me to move past my guarded nature and realize there are others who care and I am never as alone as I believe.

Everyone’s recovery is different. A major part of my recovery was making my darkest secret not a secret anymore. If you are considering sharing your own story, please know that most reactions will be positive and you can learn a lot about yourself in the process. Even if we have never met, you have my support.

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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Thinkstock photo via Everste

Originally published: June 27, 2017
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