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Depression and anxiety have been my main focus on what to fix and talk about in therapy; however, this year I've finally told people of my eating disorder.
Telling My Close Friends
For some reason, I felt the need to confess to my very close friends (and significant other at the time) about my disorder that I had kept to myself. We all always made jokes about depression and anxiety, and we've helped each other through some tough times, but I always kept my eating disorder hidden in fear of them invalidating me. One day I realized there were more and more days where I was with my friends and barely eating and occasionally they would notice and say something, but all the times they did not made me wonder if I should tell them. So one day with my best friend at the time, we were joking about what we would call our autobiographies and I said I'd call it "The Part-time Anorexic." She kind of laughed, but also knew that I was being serious. She didn't say much about it, since she probably assumed it beforehand. I told that joke to my group therapy and we all just passed over it without giving it much thought.
When I told my boyfriend, it was much harder because I took more of a serious approach, because I knew this was a big part of my life and that it would be important for him to know. I started to tell him and cried for a while until I could finally tell him, "I know I made that joke about the autobiography title, but it's true. I really am anorexic and I'm coming to terms with how serious it can get." This made us talk about it more in depth, which I had never done with anyone. I hadn't even thought about it that much to myself, but we actually had a conversation about it. He took it as a sign for him to look out for me more and encourage my eating and ask if I've eaten and such. I'm so glad I had told him, because I needed that push to start eating bigger portions, or eat more often.
Telling My Family
The next person I felt the need to inform of this sudden realisation I had was my father, who is probably the most important person in my life at the moment. I know he had always looked out for my eating, but I knew it would take an immense weight off of my shoulders if I had told him. This was about a month or two after I had told my boyfriend. I sat down with my dad and took a few deep breaths and told him with tears in my eyes. He simply replied, "I had already assumed so." I told him that it would help me more mentally if I had told him. It would put more truth to my disorder, so to speak. He agreed with me and has been nagging me about eating ever since. He is a big support for me, especially with the eating disorder.
I tried to tell my brother months later (well after my boyfriend and friends broke it off with me), because we had both gone to see my therapist. He had bought a pizza and offered some to me. I said I already ate, then took it further and said I don't eat much anyway. He ignored me, and for some reason that had bothered me, so I pushed even further and just came out and said, "I'm anorexic, you know." Then, he told me I wasn't. That hurt me so much. The invalidation coming from my brother, whom I had lived with for 18 years. I know my brother wasn't the most sensitive person all the time, but the fact that he outright told me I didn't have a disorder that both my father and therapist know I have just hurt me to the core.
Telling My Therapist and Therapy Group
The day I told my brother, I remember going to my therapist and telling him that my own brother didn't believe me and all he said was to give him time. By then I had moved on and stopped caring, because I knew he'd never believe me and I'd rather not have that negativity. However, about a month before I had told my therapist I was skipping meals again and he said, "You know that's what anorexic people do." I told him I know, and that I'm finally realising that I really am anorexic and how bad it has become. His advice to me was to try and eat more and get people to support me and help me get my eating habits back on a healthy track. Every so often he'll ask me how much eating habits have been, especially if my depression or anxiety have gotten worse.
When I told my therapy group, it started with me and another girl with an eating disorder, making jokes about it. Then she said, "Hey, I know we joke about it, but you're anorexic, right? And we don't talk about it." I told the group then that I was in fact anorexic and I've been working on it and such. However, since my eating disorder had not been super bad when I told them, I said it's nothing to worry about. Recently, when we were talking about our goals for college, I said that eating more was one of them. One of the kids said, "Just eat, not much to it." I was about to explain it to him that it isn't that easy for people like me to "just eat," but the other girl explained that since we have eating disorders our brain is basically telling us not to eat or not even worrying about food.
How I Am Living with It
At one point, I had downloaded a calorie counting app, and if you know anything about eating disorders, one of the top things is that counting calories is awful and just makes the disorder develop even worse. I would tell my friends and family it was to make sure I was eating more, and at first it was helpful. My app was set to help me gain weight, so good days (in the green above the 2000 calorie line) were good, and red days were bad (unless I got really close to the line). The first week I was making sure I ate a decent amount at every meal and if I had walked or exercised that I would eat more. However, the anorexic part of my brain started becoming obsessed with the caloric intake. I remember there was a day I ate fast food and it sent me high above the 2000 calorie line, which should have been good for me to hear. Yet, that pesky part of my brain started freaking out, causing me to almost have a meltdown. I took a long walk to my friend's house and made sure I walked the 30 minutes back instead of asking for a ride. My brain forced me to do calisthenics before I went to bed to try and work off as many calories as I could. One day, I told my aunt about the app, and she told me I should delete it. I was mad at first, because I told her it was to help me, but then I remembered those days where I would go crazy over it and decided to delete the app.
Another thing I do is joke about it. They always say that making light fun of something will help, and for me it did. My floormates in college all know now through my jokes, and all make sure I eat. My few close friends always offer me food and make sure I am eating, and I really appreciate their help in my journey of recovery. My father, especially, asks me every day if I am eating, what I ate, and when. My aunts also made sure to pack up one whole shelf of my closet with food to make sure even after I had my meals that I would be able to eat something.
There will always be anorexic episodes on some days, but the days like those are becoming fewer and fewer. There is more to my journey, but I believe I have gotten through the worst part and hope that the rest of my life the episodes will never be as bad as they used to.