Although I am totally open about my eating disorder online, I do so anonymously. Unless I was single and unafraid of the potential threat of losing a job, I would never be able to be public with my eating disorder.
I’ve thought about what would happen if I were diagnosed with some physical disorder or disease. Would I blog about it openly if it were affecting me emotionally? I think the answer is yes, and there would be no shame there, especially as I would also probably be treating it, if treatment was available. I would probably even be able to post pictures of my ailment without being accused of promoting the illness or being called an attention seeker.
So why can’t I be open with my eating disorder, an illness that is both progressive and life-threatening? Because people consider it a choice, and that if you have it, you must seek treatment for it, and that as long as you seek treatment, you will magically be cured. Wash your hands clean and move on.
If I were to blog openly about my ED and not seek treatment, my family would judge me, people would label me a bad wife and mother, I would be fired from my job, I would cause problems for my husband with his ex-wife, and I would surely come under even more fire than I do now in terms of being “pro-anorexic.”
And then I think, would it be any different if I had some other mental disorder? I think that depends. For example, I don’t think it would be such a problem if I blogged openly about OCD or ADHD, only because nowadays it seems everyone has, at least once, claimed they’ve had one or both of those illnesses. People wouldn’t think twice, honestly. But if it were bi-polar disorder or something like compulsive hoarding, I would probably have to blog anonymously to escape judgement and stigma.
Sometimes I just want to scream on my FB page: I AM SUFFERING, I LOOK HAPPY, BUT I AM NOT. I AM STARVING, AND WHEN I AM NOT STARVING, I AM EATING NOTHING BUT SUGAR, AND I NEED HELP. I AM 20 POUNDS UNDERWEIGHT, I FAST ALL DAY, I BINGE AT NIGHT, MY DIET CONSISTS OF 5 SAFE FOODS, AND ALL I THINK ABOUT ALL DAY IS FOOD, WEIGHT, AND ANOREXIA!
Nobody but my husband, former coworkers, my counselor, and sponsor know. None of my family or friends realize how sick I am. And if they suspect, they don’t say anything, because it’s such a delicate subject.
And although I am so grateful for all the wonderful people I have met online through this, sometimes I feel my life would be so much easier if I could just be open about it.
But I can’t, because society has made it so you are “not allowed” to have an eating disorder unless you get help for it, because if you don’t, you’re judged. I can’t be openly sick.