When I was first diagnosed with anorexia I had no idea what was going on in my life. A huge curve ball was thrown at me. My senior year was supposed to be super fun, full of great memories. I am thankful that I was able to complete my senior year as planned as make some great memories, but none the less, when I entered into therapy I faced a lot of hard days. I have a lot of memories from senior year that involve appointments, food challenges, tears, gaining weight, struggling, and of course more tears. But it was through this struggle that I’ve gotten to be where I am now. It is only at this point in my life where I am doing much better that I can share what I’ve gone through.
The first person I talked to about having an eating disorder was my mom. I told her that I thought I had one. She was still in denial about it and called a friend who specializes in eating disorders. So, the second person who found out was my mom’s friend. This is when I say I was diagnosed. The date was October 11, 2015, a day I will never forget.
After that my dad found out and a couple days later my sister. (I was diagnosed the day before her birthday so we waited until the day after to tell her). From there I met my nutritionist and therapist, so they obviously knew. Even though they didn’t know me before my diagnosis, they still count because they were part of my support system. Also, I had to see my general doctor to have an EKG test done and blood drawn, so she knew I had developed anorexia since the last time I had come in. This totals to six people knowing about my eating disorder.
I kept it to this small group for the beginning part of my recovery. I barely knew what was happening, so I couldn’t even begin to fathom telling other people about what I was going through. I also was worried what other people would think of me. I thought that I wouldn’t seem perfect any more. Or that they would treat me differently. Telling people at that time would have made it harder for me to recover. My friends and activities were a haven away from my eating disorder treatment.
It took me over two months to tell my best friend, but once I told her I was so happy I had. She was my confident who I could fall back on whenever I was with my friends. She has been there for me whenever I need it. I am very grateful that I opened up to her about what I was going through at that time.
Along the way I opened up to a couple more people. One person I opened up to had the response that I feared: “Darcey, but I thought you were so perfect.” I thought she would be there for me, but she wasn’t. Sometimes that happens. After that experience it took me a while to open up to anyone again. For the most part I just kept with my small support system. Between my dietician and my therapist, we had a plan that was working. I followed my meal plan, gained weight steadily, and worked through the underlying issues. There wasn’t really a need for me to open up to anyone else.
Once summer hit I had a lot more time on my hands. I spent a good amount of time looking up things about eating disorders and feminism. I also reflected a lot on what had happened over the course of the last several months and wrote about it (writings that I hope one day will become a book). I started thinking about possibly telling more people. But I just didn’t feel quite ready yet.
A month ago I was traveling and still struggling with eating because I was out of my comfort zone. When we came back I knew I had conquered something big because I had gotten through it. If I was able to eat in Europe for two weeks without losing or gaining weight, what couldn’t I do? Eating one donut didn’t seem quite so bad now. So, for the rest of July I wanted to continue pushing myself to eat my fear foods.
I don’t know what clicked, but something did. I felt compelled to share my story. I thought about how so many people knew me, but didn’t know I had anorexia. What if by sharing my story I could help others? There can be such a stigma around mental illnesses because a lot of people don’t understand them. By putting a face with a disorder it makes it seem different than just a diagnosis. I wanted to tell my friends about what I had been going through. I also wanted to share with my friends and family so that I didn’t feel like I had to keep a secret about it anymore. If I was always worried about my secret getting out, there is no way I could be freed from my disorder. Now I have lost count of how many people know about my eating disorder. I mean there are still a lot of people that don’t, but I am okay with people knowing or finding out.
I was so anxious about sharing this blog with people. I had no idea what the response would be. I did it anyways because I knew it was something I wanted to do. And as of now I have no regrets about it. Only positive things have come from it. I have felt so much support from my family and friends. People telling me how strong I am and how proud they are of me. Thank you so much for that. I know I have helped others already, which makes me feel good. I want to continue to make a difference by sharing what I have been through. You often cannot tell just be looking at someone what they are going through. By speaking up about ED I have put it out there that this is an issue. Eating disorders are scary, but the more we speak up about them, the easier it will be to EnD them.