Explaining Anorexia to Loved Ones

The first rule of eating disorders is not to talk about eating disorders—at least, that's what your eating disorder will tell you.

Many people with anorexia are in denial, and talking to someone about it means admitting the problem. Anorexics may be worried people will be angry or judgmental. Another issue is that anorexia is largely about control; sufferers fear that if they tell someone and get treatment, they might lose that control.

The best way to really take control of your life back is by talking to someone. Reaching out to a loved one for support is a step in the right direction.

Get It Out In Your Own Way

It can be scary to talk about your eating disorder for the first time, and you may experience anxiety. Take some time to prepare yourself for this and work out a way that you feel is the least scary. You might prefer to have the conversation face to face, to talk over the phone, or to get the ball rolling by writing a note or sending a text.

Beating around the bush can cause confusion and frustration. Try stating the problem outright in simple terms. Try something along the lines of, "I have an eating disorder, and I need help."

Naturally, many conversations will follow, but many feel it gets easier after getting over that initial hump.

Give Your Loved One a Chance

Just as it is difficult for you to talk about your eating disorder, it may be difficult for a loved one to hear. There are many different ways for people to react. Many will be supportive and relieved that you confided in them.

If your loved one's initial reaction is negative, please understand that they are also struggling. Sometimes people's initial reaction is born out of shock or fear. They may not understand eating disorders or may have been misinformed. They may say the wrong thing. They may need some time to let the revelation sink in before they can think and discuss the problem more clearly.

Don't let their initial reaction discourage you. Give things time to settle down.

More Information

Once the cat is out of the bag, your loved one may have a lot of questions. Try to answer them to the best of your ability, but don't be afraid to admit you don't have all the answers.

You may wish to offer your loved one more information, or do some research together. You both may benefit from a trip to the doctor, or from finding a support group together. Now that you've taken the first steps, you can take this journey together.

Sources: Center For Discovery, Beating Disorders, Mirror Mirror
Photo: Pexels

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