Breaking Free From The Circle of Silence
When I broke away from the secrecy, my true healing began. My friends and family could begin to support me and they all did very helpful things towards my recovery. My friends made special meat-free meals that I could eat, cosy nights in instead of 'going out', talking to me openly about my day and asking very open questions like 'hows today been? Is it loud?', 'how can we help?' and when I had therapy or doctor appointments they would always be curious and ask me how they went.
For years, I kept my eating disorder a secret. Not from myself or my close family, but from my friends and relatives I tried as hard as possible to keep them blind to my problems. There were times when many people had their suspicions that something may be wrong, but I existed in a world of denial.
I was 13 when I developed anorexia which is an age were friendships are very special. I would stay around my best friends houses for sleepovers desperate to keep them close to me but I was always smart as to 'when I would turn up'. I'd always make sure I arrived late after 'tea time' so that I could tell everyone I had already eaten tea before I arrived when really I hadn't, I would then tell my mum that I was eating at my friends that evening so she needn't worry about eating before leaving. It was clever, and for a while I tricked both sides. I fooled my friends and my parents by lying, which I admit I never felt great for but I knew that eating would make me feel worse. Although my spells over my friends and family didn't last for long. My friends knew I never had lunch at school and they knew why, the knew I turned up late on purpose or left early in the evening as an excuse to skip tea, they knew why but I carried on blind that they knew. I was now the one being out-smarted. My friends began to text my mum asking if I had eaten or not and my mum would fill them in on the same detail so that they knew both when I was lying and when they needed to feed me. They built up a strong friendship and soon my lies became useless as they would catch me out or 'wait to eat' for my arrival. I hated them at the time for this but many a time is saved me from starving. I was blessed with not only beautiful parents but incredible friends whom I still love to this day.
In secondary school this close group of friends remained supportive to me despite my lies and mood swings. They tell me today that at the time they went away and researched anorexia to be able to understand more about the illness. Already at just 13 years old my friends were magic. Our friendship group was called 'team' and that's exactly what we were. There were four girls including myself and four boys, us four girls were the heart of 'team' and no matter what I know 'team' will always exist. When I thank them now for everything that they did for me I too have asked them,
"What could I of done differently to help you all?".
They respond, "Told us fewer lies and more truth earlier."
I lived in a world of lies and deceit.
“Thanks, but I already ate.”
“I’m not hungry.”
“Sorry, I'm eating when I get home later tonight.”
I avoided the people and places I loved in order to keep my secret. The lies were becoming increasingly more difficult especially as my friends knew the majority of them were lies.
The switch from lies to truth happened when I found one that one of us 'four-team girls' was moving to Canada. This made me put my friendships and time left altogether in perspective a little better. We didn't have long left all together so why waste it trying to hide from them at 'food' times.
So I started telling the truth.
When I broke away from the secrecy, my true healing began. My friends and family could begin to support me and they all did very helpful things towards my recovery. My friends made special meat-free meals that I could eat, cosy nights in instead of 'going out', talking to me openly about my day and asking very open questions like 'hows today been? Is it loud?', 'how can we help?' and when I had therapy or doctor appointments they would always be curious and ask me how they went. We also spent hours on end being creative by making a memory book for our friend that was leaving to Canada- they all new art was a great distraction for me. I began to have hope in my recovery and I felt safe that I wasn't going to lose my friends, they were real and they didn't judge me. In fact they all admitted they judged me more on my lies and dishonesty rather than on my struggles and illness.
My challenge to you is to stop living a life of secrecy, but one filled with truth. Then watch as the chains of your eating disorder slowly begin to break. Escape the circle of silence and discover the circle of friendship.