I disclosed my eating disorder history to my supervisor the other day. Since it’s no longer what I deal with on a daily basis, it’s no longer an identifying feature of myself. People who have met me in the last few years don’t even necessarily know that I used to have an eating disorder, unless for whatever reason they asked, or it came up. Anyway, that being said, I disclosed because it was relevant. I don’t tell people just to tell people. But I do bring it up when I think it might better a person or a situation. And in this case, with a bunch of professionals sitting around trying to understand a student and what was going through her mind as she struggles with her own eating disorder, and with them all asking, “What is she thinking?” and “I wish we knew what was going through her mind,” I disclosed. And it ended up being helpful to them.
It really made me think, though. Even when I do disclose now, I’m often hesitant and nervous because people generally make one of two comments right away:
- So, how much weight did you lose at your worst? and
- But you’re thin, you really don’t still have an eating disorder?
I used to be really defensive when those comments were made-and oh, were they made. Because, I didn’t lose much weight at all at my worst. Which speaks to the fact that eating disorders are not about weight. And yes, I am thin. So is my mom, my grandma, and my entire family. But I am engaging in a healthy lifestyle now. I do not have an eating disorder. And I’d find myself almost needing to prove to people this, purposely eating in front of them, trying to convince them that I was healthy.
Until I kind of decided, screw it. I am healthy and I know it. And that’s what matters. And if and when people do ask these questions, during the one or two times a year that my history comes up, instead of getting angry, I’m going to educate. To let them know that actually, them having those beliefs just perpetuates the eating disorder stereotypes. And doesn’t help anything at all.
My supervisor’s reaction was: “Ohhh. I’m so glad you got better. What helped you get towards recovery?” And I wanted to hug her for that response and I told her how meaningful it was.
Just proves how much more education needs to be out there.