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Talking About Your Recovery

Part of me thought people wouldn’t understand, part of me thought people would judge me or lose respect for me, and part of me was just too proud. And so I kept it to myself. And so that’s how I felt: all by myself.

Talking About Your Recovery

Lately I’ve been feeling pretty lonely, and I couldn’t quite figure out why. I have amazing friends, good relationships with my extended family, and my parents are even in town. On top of that, I’m at school everyday and have friends in my classes, too.

And yet I still felt all alone.

For those of you who follow my posts on Facebook and/or my personal blog you will know that I’ve been going through a bit of a rough patch in my recovery; but you wouldn’t know it if you missed the Tweet. Because I don’t talk about it with people. I have no problem posting about it, writing about it, tweeting about it, but I don’t really talk about it.

There are many reasons for this: part of me thought people wouldn’t understand, part of me thought people would judge me or lose respect for me, and part of me was just too proud. And so I kept it to myself. And so that’s how I felt: all by myself.

It’s an interesting thing when you are ‘with’ people but you aren’t really sharing with them. You talk, but you don’t really talk. You maybe throw out a few vague statements like “oh, it’s just been a rough week” or “you know…life stuff” – but this doesn’t constitute sharing. And while I understand that you don’t need to share everything with everyone, I’m beginning to realize the importance of sharing with someone. And, no, by this I do not mean dump everything on the same person (this is both unfair to them, and can be destructive to you), what I mean is that you do need to make sure you share what is going on.

I realized that the reason I was afraid to share my recent struggles with Recovery was because I was afraid my friends who haven’t dealt with an ED wouldn’t understand, and there is some truth to that – someone who hasn’t gone through an eating disorder wouldn’t understand the stress that comes with Thanksgiving or why getting offered a free brownie at Starbucks may lead to a certain level of anxiety – but you never know until you try.

In addition, opening up to someone doesn’t always have to be for the purpose of getting advice or even understanding – sometimes opening up is just simply about that: opening up.

Once I realized the source of my loneliness, I decided to start reaching out.

First off, I have begun reaching out to those in my recovery community – those who have gone through an eating disorder and who can relate to what I am going through. It is no secret that there is a special bond between those of us who have spent time with ED. Just because I am on the ‘recovered’ side of recovery, that doesn’t mean I don’t still have my ED moments – and keeping them to myself is what made me feel so isolated, so I’ve finally started reaching out.

**I must make a quick note here to say that it is important when building a support community to do so with others who are in the same or similar place in recovery that you are – if you lean on those who are further behind you, then you may be triggering to them, and if you lean on those who are too far ahead of you, then they may trigger you (or vice versa)

Second, I decided to give my friends a chance at understanding. I wrote  an open letter on my personal blog to my friends explaining where I am at with my recovery and what that means on a day-to-day basis. I explained why sometimes I need to stay away from certain situations/events, why sometimes I ‘disappear’, and also talked about conversations that are triggering for me. As soon as I wrote that letter I already began feeling better and more connected.

Finally, I am going to start talking about my recovery. I am tired of treating the words ‘eating disorder‘ or ‘trigger‘ or ‘recovery‘ as if they were taboo – I am bringing this language back. And though on a bad day I realize I don’t need to turn to the barista and say “I’m just having a really bad day with my eating disorder recovery” when she asks how I am, what I do need to do is be honest with my friends when I am just not feeling up to hanging out, or when I feel going out to eat is just not a good idea on that particular day, or when I am just feeling overwhelmed.

I think I’ve just felt so trapped and ashamed because I backed myself into this corner where I wouldn’t allow myself to talk about my recovery. And so I felt isolated and alone. But I am done with that now. I am going to start talking – because I want to feel connected not isolated.

And so I encourage you if you are feeling lonely and/or alone in recovery – reach out. Join a recovery community that will build you up (we have a great one going on over at our Eating Disorder Support Facebook Group and we’d love you to be a part!) and be honest with your friends – you may be surprised how much they will understand because you never know how many people are there to listen to you until you start talking…