My mouse had been hovering over the “Post” button on and off for an hour now. I’d paste the story link to my article into my Facebook status box, stare at it and think of all the Facebook “friends” I have: some of whom were merely acquaintances, some of whom I have known for years…some of whom I consider my closest friends. With the single push of a button, all of these people would know my struggle. They would see the raw, unfiltered part of me, the part I had tried so hard to hide, the part that I had poured out onto a computer screen at 11 pm on Christmas Day. The part I was ashamed of.
Two things made me press the button. One was a comment I had gotten on my story, which said:
Great read. Never feel scared or ashamed to share your story. The more you share, the more people you can help. Eating disorders and mental disorders hold such a stigma, and that stigma causes even the people who are facing the disorders to ignore or look down on their illness for way too long. Wishing you well in your next steps to acceptance and recovery xx
I realized then that it was selfish in a way not to share my story. That by posting this, I could give hope to all the people who may be struggling with the same thing but are too ashamed to admit it, or to the people who may not even know that they have an eating disorder in the first place.
The second was the realization that despite the article, I was still ashamed of myself. I was still ashamed to admit that I had a problem and I wasn’t perfect. And by being too ashamed to share the article with my friends, I was giving the eating disorder power over myself.
I took a deep breath and pressed “Post.”
Responses poured in immediately. People commented, people messaged me and texted me, people gave me their support and their love and reassurance. It was overwhelming, far more than I expected.
I didn’t post my story as a cry for attention or as a way of guilting my friends for not seeing that anything was wrong. I posted it, as one commenter acutely said, as a sort of personal validation, a way of proving that I was no longer letting my eating disorder control me. I posted it to encourage everyone who is struggling with the same issue to seek help. Most of all, I posted it to show that I am not ashamed, that no one with an eating disorder should be ashamed of it, and that anyone who needs someone to talk to can always reach out to me, because I understand.
To my closest friends: don’t feel sorry for a second for not noticing or not trying to help. It was something that I myself hadn’t yet accepted, and if I hadn’t even realized something was wrong, don’t feel bad about not seeing it either. It was my own monster to deal with, my own battle to fight, and all of you have done so much in showing your love and support.
In the weeks following the post, emails poured in from readers who shared their own stories with me, some of them eerily similar. It was in this that I saw that I wasn’t alone in this struggle, and that by publicizing my own problems, I had helped people get through their own.
In reading the comments and messages I’ve gotten, I’ve realized something — everyone has their own monsters, battles, and struggles. It’s how we choose to deal with them that makes us who we are. This, and any other personal problems we deal with, is a fight that’s bigger than just us. It’s a fight that we don’t have to fight alone. There are so many amazing, wonderful people out there who have struggled and won, who we can use as inspiration, so many wonderful people who are currently struggling that we can relate to, and so many wonderful people that we can help. Community is everything and I hope to have created a small community where honesty is apparent and hope is everywhere.
In discovering this community, I’ve made friends with many of its members. I don’t regret that I posted the article for a second, because without it, I wouldn’t have met any of them.
Some people asked for tips, for help, for a more in-depth story. And in wanting to help them, I was inspired to start my own blog.
It’s a story about the road to recovery — my story — and it’s one I’m proud to tell. I didn’t know that posting that one article would lead me to a happier life, to inner peace, to an almost complete recovery and most of all, to discover a community I love and a calling I want to answer — helping people through their struggles.
I love you all, and as always, don’t hesitate to reach out to me if you want to talk.