For Time To Talk Day, we share our tips for disclosing you have an eating disorder.
If you’re reading this with the knowledge that something isn’t quite right about your relationship to food and eating, but you’re wondering how to talk about it, let’s take a moment to recognise the immense strength it takes to acknowledge that you have a problem.
It takes courage to admit that we’re down a certain path and that our problems might be bigger than ourselves – that we’ve lost ‘control’ or that we’re stuck in a pattern that is no longer serving us.
So disclosing that we have an eating disorder is a big step. In fact, it’s the first step we take in recovery – the first of the many shifts and changes we’ll make that opens up our world and communicates that we’re ready for something different.
But how do we talk about it? Where do we begin? Here are our thoughts…
Consider your expectations
Ask yourself, what do I want from the conversation? It’s important to clock what your needs are so that you can plan your wording accordingly. Mental health issues are extremely personal, so we have to recognise that the person we’re speaking to may need time to understand and may have their own reactions to the information. We can mitigate for this by thinking about what we want from the interaction so that we can communicate ourselves clearly and directly.
Also consider how much or what you want to share. People with eating disorders can sometimes feel a sense of shame or embarrassment for the symptoms they’re experiencing, so consider what you feel comfortable sharing at this point.
Recognise that all the above may change over time, but it’s important to pace ourselves in the process.
Pick your person
As we said above, mental health is extremely personal, so consider who is best to speak to about this. A parent, partner or trusted best friend can walk alongside you in the process, but perhaps you feel more comfortable speaking to someone a little more distant – like a therapist, treatment centre or a relative.
Pick your timing
Pick a time when emotions aren’t running high. We want the person we’re speaking to to be open, receptive and present, as opposed to reactive or tense.
Consider your method
It might be that a face-to-face conversation feels too much. If that’s the case, that is ok! All you’re doing is getting the ball rolling, and this can be done by letter, phone call or even a text.
Remember, we’re all human
They may not understand fully at first, but recognise that they are separate people with their own internal worlds and interpretations. Take a deep breath, ground yourself back into your intentions, and know that you can come back to the conversation at any time.
Come back to self-compassion
Whenever anyone reaches out to Orri, we recognise the courage and bravery it takes to pick up the phone or fill out a contact form for the first time. Allow yourself to appreciate that too.
It’s exhausting living with an eating disorder, particularly without support. Whatever happens, return to self-compassion and recognise your bravery and the life force within you that’s reaching out and trusting that you deserve better than this illness.