As a long-time Spoon writer, I’m probably one of the biggest fans of the community. It has helped me find my passion and allowed me to meet and work with people I’d never otherwise have been able to connect with… and helped me recover from my eating disorder.
So when this article popped up on my Facebook feed, it was one of the only Spoon articles I didn’t press “like” for. I did, however, read it. And while I believe everyone is entitled to their own opinions, here’s why I really don’t care if you or anyone else is sick of reading about my eating disorder — past, present, and future.
First of all, I’m not writing about it for you. I’m not writing a heart-wrenching story about struggling with anorexia, orthorexia, bulimia, binge eating, and the overwhelming depression that comes with all of that, so that I can get likes on Facebook and have my story blow up the Internet.
No, I’m writing it because I believe all stories need to be heard. Eating disorders and other forms of mental illness are already stigmatized in our society. I think it’s a beautiful moment when we feel more free to speak about them, to post about them on sites like Vice, Medium, or even Spoon University.
We need to speak about them because by lessening the stigma, we make it easier for people suffering from eating disorders to seek and receive help. We need to speak about them because by raising awareness, we make it easier for people who may suffer from eating disorders to recognize the symptoms before they start, and so the friends and family of those suffering can understand even a little piece of what their loved ones are going through.
In the US alone, 30 million people suffer from a clinically significant eating disorder at some point in their life. And this is just what has been reported.
This number is too high for anyone to be telling us that we shouldn’t be posting our story. If you don’t want to read it, then don’t read it. Simple as that.
Because writing about my eating disorder has not only helped me accept the fact that I have one and take the steps to get better, but it also has helped people realize that they may also have one because they were experiencing similar things or had similar thoughts. It helped people realize that they were not alone in this struggle, and let me tell you — as someone who’s struggled off and on, having an eating disorder is one of the darkest, most terrifyingly lonely experiences you can ever have.
After posting about my eating disorder on Spoon, I hesitated sharing it on my personal Facebook page because it’s not necessarily something I wanted my entire network to know about me. Like I said, stigma is real.
But it was a step of bravery. The reason I pressed “post” was because I wanted to raise awareness and help those who were also suffering.
And I’m so glad I did. I got messages from friends and family who told me they had been secretly struggling with the same thing, and thanked me for my bravery. But I also got emails from complete strangers who asked me for advice, who told me they understood, and who wished me the best of luck on my recovery.
I cried reading some of these emails; they were eye-opening, heartbreakingly beautiful, and unfiltered. I became friends with some of these people, and with them, I found a sort of community that was instrumental to my recovery.
That’s why I’m not “saving it for my diary” like the author of the aforementioned article suggested I do. I’m not ashamed of the fact that I struggled and survived, and I’m not ashamed to talk about my experience.
It’s not for the attention. That’s like saying that people who have eating disorders just want attention, just want to look pretty/skinny/perfect.
No one chooses to have an eating disorder. It’s a classified type of mental illness — you can’t choose to have one as much as you can choose to have schizophrenia.
Reading the comments on this post, it’s clear that so many people share the same sentiments as me.
And as a last note, please understand that if you overate once or twice you don’t necessarily have binge eating disorder, just like if you “played with Barbies and owns a mirror” like the author did, you don’t necessarily have disordered eating.
I agree with stopping to assess before you post your eating disorder story on the Internet, but let’s be honest — you should stop and think before you post anything on the Internet.
So let’s continue breaking stereotypes. Let’s do away with the stigma. Let’s say what we want to say, share what we want to share, because we know we do it for ourselves and not for the likes.