Question # 11 is from "Julia"--she writes:
“I'm unable (with good reason) to tell my parents about what I am now willing to admit is my eating disorder.
Because of this, I'm having to recover not only outside the inpatient facility I truthfully need, but also under the radar.
What tools did you use in your recovery that you think could help in my situation?”
I won’t argue with you about what you say is a good reason not to tell your parents about your eating disorder, but I will say this: Don’t underestimate parents. With an eating disorder, you need all the help you can get, especially if you’re not yet an adult (hell, even when you ARE an adult!) and if there’s any chance they would be supportive, it could be a good chance to take. That said, I won’t push you and I clearly don’t know all the details about your family situation. I wouldn’t want someone giving me advice without knowing all the details, so I’ll leave my preaching at that, but please remember this: it will be very hard for you to use the tools and resources available to you if you have to keep your eating disorder a secret. The biggest hindrance to recovery is secrecy. I can’t stress that enough.
So, what tools did I use that could help you in your situation?
- I have to be honest here—support is the number one tool. If you absolutely can’t trust your parents with your problems, please trust someone else:
A counselor (school, university, etc.—depending on your walk of life), a close and responsible family friend, a kind person in your life that can support you and help you. Someone. Seek them out, tell your tale, and get that support. It’s never easy doing something alone, so recovery will be that much easier if you can create a support system.
A side note: For those of you who are college students, campus counseling centers are a great resource. Don’t knock it ‘til you try it. I tried it, 6 or 7 years ago, and it helped. The best part is, the counseling services are part of your tuition, so you can take advantage of it without worrying about added cost. It’s also completely 100% confidential. They don’t tell your professors, your family, etc. There’s nothing stopping you from using this resource.
- ANAD.org. I’m an ANAD eating disorder support group leader, but there are also people affiliated with ANAD who are “resource people.” This means that they give their contact info and location to ANAD (National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders) and you, as a sufferer, can call and tell them you need someone to talk to, someone to go over resources with, and ANAD will give you the name and number/email address of a resource person in your area. ANAD also has lots of other great resources listed on their website. Check it out.
- Find an outlet. Write. Draw. Paint. Craft. Create a website. Take photos. Do something that makes you feel good. It will help you not to take things out on yourself. It will allow you to learn how you can help yourself.
- Create a Coping Bank.
- Find a support group. I’ll direct you back to ANAD. They have Support Group listings on their website. You can search by your location. It’s not an in-patient program, it’s not therapy, but it is a place you can talk and get some help. The bonus: it’s free and you wouldn’t have to confess where you’re going, because it wouldn’t show up on a bill.
- Join a recovery forum. I’m a moderator on two forums and have been for a couple of years. I’ve seen the way they can help people, especially young people, firsthand. WeBiteBack is one (I’m a mod there), but there are others. The Joy Project, for example. You can get support, gain encouragement to fight this, and make progress in the comfort of your own home.
- Get a daily source of advice and motivation in the right direction by watching YouTube videos like the ones on WeRfreEDomfighters. It’s the collaboration I’m a part of (my day is Wednesday – Wednesday Warriors! Yeah!) and we make daily videos to help those recovering from eating disorders. We have over 500 subscribers and counting and the women I do this with are amazing. You have to surround yourself with positive reinforcement wherever you can find it. We also have a brilliant website here where you can find other resources, a forum, and other goodies.
You can find some other good ideas here in an old post of mine, as well as here and here.
Best of luck to you. Recovery is difficult, but completely possible! I promise.