“Do you mind that people here know?” Someone recently asked me. By “here” she meant my work, at an eating disorder facility.
“Do I mind? No!” I said. “No not at all.”
I explained to her that when I first started working here, I was told that I shouldn’t tell anyone because patients shouldn’t know that I actually had an eating disorder. Which was funny actually because for the two years prior I was coming once a month to share my story with the patients. Whatever. I complied.
Until my book came out.
Then everyone knew. Just Google my name and you know.
But, as I drove home after the day she asked me this, I found myself stewing about this question.
Do I mind if people know? Should I mind? Should I be worried what they “might” think of me, knowing I struggled with an eating disorder?
Is this something I should be ashamed of? Why does mental illness get attached with a stigma that it is somehow a moral failure? It isn’t.
No one chooses to have an eating disorder!
If I had broken my leg, would I have cared if people knew? No. And I don’t care one lick if anyone knows I struggled with an eating disorder. I am not ashamed, I am not about hiding that my brain broke for a while, that I couldn’t cope. That I needed help.
Then I also thought… maybe I shouldn’t want people to know because then I would have to prove that I didn’t still have it. Like the flu. Like leprosy.
I will not be ashamed of my struggles, I will not hide in fear or embarrassment of being one of 20 million women who struggle with an eating disorder.
In the United States, 20 million women and 10 million men suffer from a clinically significant eating disorder at some time in their life, including anorexia nervose, bulimia nervosa, binge eating disorder, or an eating disorder not otherwise specified.” – NEDA
I will not be ashamed.
I choose every day not to cover up my mess. I had to fight like Hell to get where I am today. I am proud of being on the other side of that horrible battle. I will not hide in shame, and neither should you!