I know. The title itself is scary, isn't it?
I remember the first time I uttered that phrase out loud. I was in the military (for people that know me, saying I was in the military seems really weird considering my personality type, but I was - look out for a post about that in the future). I was stationed on a base very close to where I currently live. I spent most of my time in the military denying i had one. Fighting the system that I thought was trying to bring me down... it was bringing me down, but not the portion I was fighting.
I was in a very dark place in my life. I was engaging in behaviors left and right, even at work - especially at work. I took some time off to go do a photoshoot at the Ohio State Reformatory, on my way back I visited a friend of mine at Purdue and while I was avoiding the sandwich on my plate at Panera I knew what I was going to do.
I got back to Scott and I had an appointment with the Psychologist on base on Wednesday and I broke down in her office and told her in not so many words that I did have an eating disorder and that I thought I was killing myself.
I didn't even actually get those words out, not like that anyways, but that was the first time I said something to that effect. It took me eight years to say it and stress that there was a serious problem happening. Eight years. I wound up going into a treatment program the Friday of that same week.
Currently, I've been thrust into this realm of publicity. I am getting interviewed on a weekly basis for doing something that I honestly don't think is a big deal, rather, something that needed to be done. I'm holding a fashion show with a variety of women that fairly resemble a random sampling of the women you encounter daily. Women in their teens to women in their 60s. A mayor of a local town even... Women of varying sizes, shapes, and ethnicities.
A show that I feel needed to happen.
In these interviews I've been trying to be vague when asked the dreaded "why?" question. I recently got an email from a lovely lady at St. Louis Kids Magazine. She wanted to do an interview with me regarding eating disorders, insurance companies, the show, and myself. She said she was willing to edit the article once it was online (she's one of their SmartParenting bloggers). I knew it was the perfect time for me to do it. Why did I finally come out and do it though?
Nourishing the Soul recently posted a link to a scholarly article regarding the stigma of eating disorders as opposed to depression. The findings revealed in the article were not surprising to me. The stigma for eating disorders is much higher in our society. It was this stigma that I knew existed that prompted me to self-disclose. It just happened to be odd fate that the day after the article came out that NTS would post that link on Twitter, fate that left me grounded in my decision.
There is NO shame in having an eating disorder. There is especially no shame in seeking help for one either. I do think that judgment should be used with disclosure, but I also strongly feel that it should not become a dirty little secret.
By not speaking about eating disorders we're helping that stigma stick around. Feeding it. It is not until we talk about it that things can change. It's what we don't see, what we don't talk about, what we don't know for certain that scares us the most. We need to educate and communicate.
I'm going to say that coming out of the eating disorder closet scared me (and still feel slightly odd), but I wouldn't go back and alter that decision. I chose that venue, because the kindness of Nicole (the author) and what I thought would be a smaller reader base (causing the revelation to slowly leak out rather than burst). I also didn't think I would personally get a response...
The day that article came out two of the members of the treatment team from the IOP program I went to emailed me unexpectedly. Compassion and care came. Compassion and care that I wasn't anticipating. Compassion and care that were very very much appreciated and made me wonder... if we showed that sort of care to people that reveal things of that nature (not even just eating disorders), maybe more people wouldn't wait as long to disclose their problems - if I had been able to say them eight years prior - or even a couple of years before I did...
if all of this happened I truly believe the stigma would start to fade away as people would learn in the process.
Educate and Communicate.