One year ago this summer I opened up publicly about my struggle and recovery from anorexia. As soon as I published that blog post I had to close my laptop and step away in order not to delete my whole blog and every form of social media I owned. It was scary, and as I started receiving comments on it, I didn’t know what to do. People now knew my secret… what crazy internal demon possessed me to do that?! But it was one of the best decisions of my life.
When I first entered recovery I was told that we are only as sick as our secrets. I started giving away my secret when I first told my family and closest friends about what was going on, and that helped a lot. It gave me a safe place to go when sticking to recovery was too hard on my own. I had someone holding me accountable for meals, and encouraging me to stick to therapy. As I became more comfortable with sharing about my eating disorder I met other people who were going through or who had gone through the same things. The connections I’ve formed with these people are invaluable to my recovery. To be able to emergency-text or call someone who just gets it is one of the most powerful weapons I have in my recovery arsenal. When I get together with someone else who is serious about recovery, my eating disorder all but throws up its hands and hits the road. Helping them helps me, and vice versa. It’s incredible. But going public about my eating disorder on the internet? That’s a different story. And when I finally did share about it, I had no idea how much it would actually help me. Shame grows exponentially when we lock our secrets away and hold them close to us.
By opening up I was able to challenge the shame that came from this diagnosis, and have since realized that it is an illness- something out of my control, something I did not choose but that I can work to recover from. And by opening up I found myself looking at a platform on which I could share my fight and victories with other people who could understand and who were fighting their own battles, no matter what that might look like (shout out to all of you!). One of the most healing things I’ve ever heard is, “Reading what you write has helped me.” If my struggle can help someone else, if it can encourage even one person to continue fighting any battle they’re faced with, then that makes all of this worth it. I am open about my eating disorder because I want others (and myself!) to believe wholeheartedly that there is no shame in mental illness, and to break down the stigma surrounding it. I am open about my eating disorder because when I read others’ stories, it brings me hope, and I want to be able to bring hope too. But even more than any response I’ve received to this blog, writing about my experience has helped me grow. I am open about my eating disorder because it keeps me accountable, and when I struggle it gives me another reason to fight. Recovery is extremely hard, but for some reason this blog has made it a little bit easier.
Maybe it’s the connection with others, the practice of putting my thoughts into words, the choice to be vulnerable. Maybe it’s that when I was sick I desperately wanted to be invisible, and this blog has directly challenged my fear of being seen. It’s a whole load of things that have made sharing my story worthwhile. Thank you for being here for it. If you are thinking about opening up about your own story, do not be afraid! Follow your instincts and be true to yourself. Your story is yours. You have the right to own it however you want to. “Owning our story and loving ourselves through the process is the bravest thing we’ll ever do.” -Brené Brown
This post was published originally here