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EDRecovery Blog
Tools and Information for Individuals in Recovery from Anorexia, Bulimia and Binge Eating
rainbow in the desert

November 5, 2012 by Jeanne Rust

How to Tell Your Family

One of the questions I'm asked the most often is, "How do I tell my family?" "How can I tell my parents?" I'm writing this again to give you 5 tips on how to tell your biggest secret!

Do you feel shame about having an eating disorder?

Would you rather die than let someone know your big secret?

When you have an eating disorder, the first and most difficult step to take is to admit to yourself that you have an eating disorder. The second hardest step is to tell another person. When you tell another person, you may be terrified about how they will react. Will they be disappointed? Will they be angry? Will they believe you? These thoughts are all in your mind when you think about telling your big secret.

"We should not let our fears hold us back from pursuing our hopes."
—John Fitzgerald Kennedy

Here are 5 Ways that will help you when you decide to tell someone you have an eating disorder.

1. Find someone you feel comfortable with. It could be a friend or a spouse, a teacher or a parent. You can always invite someone to support you, a therapist, a teacher, or a friend, when you tell your family. You might choose to write your family a letter if you feel that your situation is too intense or dangerous.

2. Bring information about eating disorders with you to give to your family so they can educate themselves. Remember that it is impossible to predict how someone is going to react when you tell them you have an eating disorder. We usually think of the very worst thing that can happen.

3. Wait for a few days for a reaction because your family or spouse may be surprised, shocked, worried, or upset. They may cry. Some others may already know you have an eating disorder or recognize that you are ill. Beware that people sometimes can be cruel and say hurtful things.

4. They might deny it completely. "No, you don't have an eating disorder. Just stop!" They might think it's their fault so if they don't accept it, it isn't there! Some families want to stay in denial. "Not in this family!"

5. Email me if you find that the situation is not workable. Together we'll create a plan of action for you.

Telling someone requires a lot of courage. Telling someone is like jumping off of a cliff into unknown territory. Pick a time when your family member is in a mellow mood, sit down by them, even close your eyes if you have to, then say, "I have an eating disorder and I need help."

You have nothing to be ashamed of and you'll find even more relief the more often you tell people.

"KEEP people in your life
that truly love you
motivate you
encourage you
inspire you
enhance you &
make you happy
If you have people who do
NONE of the above,
Let them go"

Family Therapy