Telling others about your eating disorder or not telling them is a very personal decision. There are no easy answers about who to tell or who not to tell. But let’s look at some basics on this topic of telling others about your eating disorder. Perhaps doing so will help you sort out your thoughts on this matter.
You may be young and in a situation where you’re convinced you need to tell your parents in order to get the help you need. Yet it may seem impossible to tell them. Here are some things you may want to keep in mind.
1. While there may not be an ideal time to tell them, try to find a time when things are quiet and they have the opportunity to truly listen and discuss the matter with you.
2. If you’re more comfortable telling another trusted adult first, such as a teacher, school counselor or pastor, perhaps that person can be with you when you tell your parents.
3. If you can’t bring yourself to say it out loud, you can write it in a note to them and give it to them at a time when they can absorb what you’ve said and discuss it with you.
4. If you are in school and need to miss school for medical reasons, there may come a time that your school counselor and teachers will need to know about the eating disorder. You may also need to tell your friends. Consider asking your parents or another trusted adult to help you with telling others who may need to know.
You may be married and feel you need to tell your spouse. Here are some things to keep in mind when it comes to telling others about your eating disorder.
1. Do your best to set aside a time that is free of distractions and the two of you can take the time you need to discuss the matter.
2. If you think it will help to practice beforehand, go ahead and do just that. You might even find it helpful to write out what you want to say.
3. Your spouse may have suspected something was going on. On the other hand, don’t be surprised if he/she was clueless about what you’ve been going through. Also, don’t be surprised if your spouse doesn’t understand or even makes an odd comment. Try to prepare yourself for possible outcomes.
4. Choose some books or websites to offer your spouse to help him/her gain a better understanding of eating disorders.
Whether you’re a teenager or adult, whether you’re married or single, you may question telling others about your eating disorder – other friends or family members who may not necessarily need to know, but who you would like to tell in order to gain their support. Here are a few things to think about as you consider telling others about your eating disorder.
1. Consider the person’s personality. Is this someone you can trust not to spread it to others? Is this someone who will take your needs seriously?
2. What is your purpose in telling this person? From there, decide how much you are comfortable in having this person know. If you are seeking that person’s support, you’ll obviously want to share things in greater detail. If not, there is nothing wrong with being brief about things.
3. Think of some of the things that others around you have been through that you’ve never experienced. How well do you think you understood what their needs were, how difficult the experience was for them, or what was necessary for them to get passed what happened? Also, how would you respond if someone told you something serious that you weren’t expecting? Keep these questions in mind as you see this person’s reaction. This is a very sensitive time for you so perhaps pondering these questions will help you not to take it personally if things don’t go quite as you expect.
4. Ask people like your counselor, members of your support group or those you’re met online. They may have some insights that will help you. And why not go into these difficult discussions knowing that you have their support?
5. If the reactions are not what you expected or needed, do your best not to let that stand in the way of getting the help and support you need. If they don’t understand or aren’t compassionate, that isn’t your fault. Nor should it take away your chance of a better life free of the eating disorder.
6. Remember that there is someone you don’t have to tell about the eating disorder because He already knows. God is always there with you and He is well aware of what you are experiencing. You can talk to Him about the eating disorder anytime, anyplace. You can also ask for His help.
Know that you are not alone. Anyone with an eating disorder has to decide who to tell and who not to tell. Don’t be afraid to ask others how they did it and how things went for them. Again, this is not an easy decision. When it comes to telling others about your eating disorder, take your time, and do what’s best for you.
By Laurie Glass