Too frequently, I see people with eating disorders who are bravely attempting recovery from this all consuming, life changing and poorly understood illness, express shame.
They feel ashamed that they have an eating disorder in the first instance, ashamed of what the illness has done to their life or the impact it has had on their loved ones and they feel shame that they have not succeeded in recovery yet. I also frequently see people compare themselves to others they see through social media who they perceive as living the perfect recovered life, asking themselves, ‘why can’t I do it if they can?‘.
I understand these feelings of shame, self-deprecation, self-blame, self-hatred, feeling a failure and the resulting negative downward spiral of low mood which only further fuels the eating disorder. I understand these feelings because I have been there too.
But having been there and lived those emotions, it breaks my heart that others live with these thoughts and feelings and so I am here to tell you that there is NO shame.
No one with an eating disorder should be ashamed of the illness or their story.
There is no shame in just surviving when each day is painful and torturous to get through. There is no shame in struggling and no shame in saying that this has been a bad day, week, month or year.
Do not be ashamed of your truth… there is no shame in ‘failure’ because there is no failure when it comes to eating disorder recovery.
There is however needing to find ways through the recovery process and there is ‘I need a hug‘ and there is, ‘I’m scared and I need to find a way…’
But there’s no shame if all you have done today or this month is survive.
Do not stay silent and not seek help through shame.
Voice your truth, seek your tribe of people to prop yourself up against, unruffle your brain by talking and finding connections, be authentic to yourself and be proud of you because you have not given up.
And instead of feeling ungrounded shame, say…
‘I’ve not succeeded in recovery YET”…
‘I’ve not found my way to my destination YET and maybe I’ve taken a detour on my way there but I know that I’ll find that next micro-step to get me to even greater steps in recovery and my life is not one of chronic and disabling illness. I have freedom and I choose more than this.’
If feelings of shame or self blame arise for you as a result of an eating disorder or during the incredibly difficult recovery process, notice the thoughts arise and then choose to rise above them. Choose to know that they are ungrounded.
Consider what you would say to a friend or a relative if they had this illness and were in the same position… I very much doubt you would attribute blame to them or think that they should be ashamed of themselves.
There is no shame to an eating disorder, no matter what. In fact, quite the opposite: instead of shame, people with eating disorders who are choosing not to merely accept the illness (which is you if you are reading this) should feel pride, strength and resilience because I know, as only someone who has lived experience of this illness can, that choosing to fight is superhuman courage in itself.
Never be ashamed of your eating disorder story. This is your truth and through this, you are becoming nothing short of a superhero!