Surfacing After Silence

Life. After.

Coming Out As A Recovered Anorexic


I am a recovered anorexic.  I am stating this on my blog.  (Returning readers will already know this, but I wanted to state it clearly and succinctly.)  My blog is linked with my name.  I am fully aware that anyone, including my students, could google my name and find this.  I hope they do.  I am a writing professor after all.  Hopefully they’ll read this, and realize that I can actually write.  Hopefully, if someone reads this and is suffering, he or she will know there is hope and help and will maybe even ask for help.  (This scenario has played out in that fashion, by the way.)

But I read this blog entry today, an article about how NOT to come out as a recovering anorexic:

http://www.bustle.com/articles/34701-i-came-out-as-a-recovering-anorexic-and-heres-how-not-to-do-it

I want to state right off, that the route I took may not be the ideal route for you.  We are all individuals with unique situations and circumstances and we all have different needs.  Please take care of yourself.  Always take care of your needs first.

How did I ‘come out’ when I first admitted/realized I had an eating disorder?  I had a very good support team comprised of friends, my fellowship group and chaplain, professors, and a therapist.  My relationship with my parents at that time was . . . not all that functional.  I was completely scared shitless about telling my parents that, not only was I struggling with depression and self-harm, I was struggling with an eating disorder.  I knew that when I told them, there would be an extremely difficult conversation with a lot of questions.  I told my best friend, first.  Then I told my chaplain.  Then I told my therapist and asked him to help me talk to my parents.  I went into that phone call scared, but also confident that I had support if I needed it.

As for how I went about telling them, I kind of did wing it with my friend, or at least stumbled through it.  But I did plan out what I was going to say to my parents.  Not including a power point.  Which wasn’t invented yet, but there were no visual aides of any type.  The conversation did not go as planned (do they ever?) but I think it went a lot smoother because I knew what I needed to tell them by the end of the conversation.  I had those things written down in front of me.

I do agree that you shouldn’t let yourself get too annoyed by ignorant comments or questions, because you will get a lot of them, not only when you are initially coming out but when you are in treatment and after you are better.  I still get asked, “So, what, you like, got really thin or something?”

As for blogging about it.  I would hope that if you blog about anything, you realize it will be read.  Maybe by people you’d rather not read it.  I do not regret blogging the process of recovery.  It was very therapeutic.  I felt connected to a larger community.  And I do not regret attaching my name to the blog.  I am not ashamed to say, “I used to have an eating disorder and this is how I recovered.”  And if it helps someone, that is wonderful.  And if one of my students comes up and asks questions, that’s super wonderful.  Because this needs to be talked about.  But if you don’t want random people to know who you are, do not use a blog.  Or a facebook.  Or twitter.  Even if I didn’t state my name here, I’m pretty sure there are some people who could hack into it and find out where it’s coming from.

I did write an article–while I was still sick, but after I had decided to recover.  I knew that lots of people would read it.  But I also have my MFA in Creative Nonfiction Writing, and having people read things about me kind of comes with the territory.  In fact, it’s usually my goal.  If this scares you, do not write an article or allow yourself to be interviewed.  I presented my paper at a conference.  I do not regret this decision.  I took a lot of questions–but during the Q&A period and afterwards.  I really do strongly believe that eating disorders and mental health need to be talked about openly.  But if being in the spotlight and answering some possibly ignorant questions makes you nervous, do your best to support mental health awareness by donating to the EDC or NAMI or join a fundraising walk where you’ll be one of hundreds with no spotlight.

I do not think there is a right way or a wrong way to come out about having an eating disorder.  No matter how you do it, it is difficult and scary.  But doing so will hopefully extend your support system and make you feel less alone and help you find appropriate treatment.  You need to consider who you are talking to and how to approach said person.  And you need to consider your own needs and comfort level.

One thing that did help me before coming out to people I knew, was joining an anonymous community for support.  I learned that I was not alone.  I got used to conversing in “eating disorder language.”  People encouraged me.  People offered helpful suggestions.  I “met” people whom I’d stay in contact with for many years.  I met some of them in real time and they remain my friends.  BUT be careful about the community you choose.  There are many pro-eating disorder communities.  Find one that is pro-recovery.  I would recommend:

https://www.graceonthemoon.com/

They have information about eating disorders, recovery, and finding treatment.  And their forums are pro-recovery and you can reveal as much or as little about yourself as you want.

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September 12, 2014 - Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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