In honor of World Eating Disorder Action Day, I want to encourage those suffering, in recovery or recovered from an eating disorder to be vulnerable and tell your story to reduce the stigma that surrounds eating disorders and educate others.
It is important that we stand together in support of our community and by sharing our stories we can connect through our similarities and even our differences to promote change.
However with sharing you story comes a responsibility to yourself as well as everyone else involved or not involved so, I’m going to give some tips on how to share your story in an appropriate way. I know when I began sharing my story I was so confused about what to say and what not to say and how to go about doing it to promote awareness, as well as, positivity. Let’s just say that’s very difficult so, I have compiled a few tips of my own to help you share your story responsibly.
1. Do not use other’s names while sharing your story unless you have been given permission.
I know that can be difficult, but instead of saying “my close friend [insert name]” just say “my close friend.” I think this is just a good idea just in case they did not want to be mentioned for whatever reason. However, if you ask them for permission first and they give you the go ahead then feel free to mention their name. This includes treatment providers as well.
2. Avoid triggering details.
You never know who may be listening to or reading about your story so, it’s best to err on the side of caution. This is probably the most difficult tip because you never know what may trigger someone. I try to stay general with my story and not go into too much detail. Be careful with sharing specific situations because you may tend to want to share every. Obviously don’t mention any numbers i.e. weight, calorie intake, number of miles you ran etc. Numbers are usually common triggers for those suffering with eating disorders.
3. Share an overall sense of hope.
The first time I ever saw someone suffering from an eating disorder was in the documentary Thin, which I have written a post about previously. The overall feeling I felt from that documentary was hopelessness and it was really depressing. When I received my diagnosis, the first thing I thought about was the girls I watch struggle throughout that movie and refuse to work towards recovery. It mad me feel hopeless in that moment, as if my diagnosis was a death sentence. Thankfully most of the women in that movie are recovered, but I didn’t learn that until years later. I’m being selfish to say that for that fourteen year old Ivy watching that movie, share some positivity so that someone who may deal with an eating disorder or know a loved one dealing with one can have a glimmer of hope. Even if you don’t consider yourself recovered, share a little bit about those who are or say that “recovery is possible” because like me, even if you’re not their yet, you know your working towards freedom.
4. It’s truly up to you what you wish to share.
You may not want to share your whole story in chronological order like I did. That may be very overwhelming and scary. It definitely was for me. You may just want to say “I had an eating disorder and I am now recovered” or “I have an eating disorder and I’m working towards recovery.” I would encourage you to say more than that because every story matters and you never know who will be inspired, educated or in awe of your story. It’s is okay if you are not ready to go there just yet. Start with the line above and maybe someday you may feel comfortable sharing more.
I hope this helps you if you are beginning to share your story or maybe have a small idea you may want to in the future.
Also, please go visit World Eating Disorders Action Day website to learn more about the ways you can help today or in the future. You can also Take the Pledge to promise to help reduce the stigma surrounding eating disorders and promote “EDucation.”