Written by: Ryan K
Originally posted: 9/2/2015
Throughout this lengthy process of "coming out," reactions have varied. Most fall into the "Yeah, had a feeling, not shocked, more happy you're in treatment" but also some "HOLY SHIT! Really?? I had no idea!"
Several years ago, my brother told my aunt he thinks I have an eating disorder. She was our favorite aunt growing up; always caring, compassionate and fun. She would let us eat junk food against my uncle's wishes. Oh, the irony.
My aunt did not believe my brother.
The night before I went into residential care, we had family over for dinner and prayer. She told me about what happened and how she simply didn't believe it because I'm too smart to have an eating disorder.
My cousin was also very surprised, apologizing for not knowing because she's been so busy with her newborn. She knew there were rumors, but discredited the nonsense because I'm too put-together to have an eating disorder.
I love both of them dearly, and do not fault them in the least for their disbelief. And honestly, until I was ready to get help within my own self, people's awareness didn't matter at all.
What really strikes me about all this is the reason people are shocked is because I am smart and "put-together." The implication is only unintelligent people have eating disorders, probably stemming from the subliminal conviction that it's a choice.
Can I let you in on a little secret? I have met some of the most intelligent people I've ever known in ED treatment. I'm talking psychiatric nurses, Marine Corps, oncologists, neurosurgeons (more irony), eating disorder counselors (yup!), teachers with PhDs, business owners, writers, Ivy Leaguers, human rights activists and countless overachieving students mostly at the top of their class.
Hmm. Seems to be a flawed theory.
Follow-up secret: People are completely capable of being smart AND with mental illness. Say whaaa?! When you hear, "Ugh, that dude is mental," you probably don't think of a capable and competent fellow, do you? (Side note: Calling someone "mental" as an insult is similar to calling someone "gay" as an insult #justsaying) But GUESS WHAT? YOU CAN BE BOTH! *mind explosion*
What many of us have in common is our debilitating perfectionism, people pleasing and need for approval and validation. Wanting to be the best at everything we do is a huge contributing factor to developing an eating disorder, and then later is a way to justify the eating disorder. My GPA is awesome, so there can't possibly be anything wrong with me! I have a great job. People with mental illness don't have great jobs, silly! Lies.
In treatment, we learn a lot about acceptance. Accepting ourselves for who we truly are, accepting the impossibility of perfection and pleasing all people ever, and accepting that we don't need to resort to drastic measures to cope with difficulty. Getting there is hard, but I truly believe acceptance is the greatest gift you can give, especially to yourself.
Original post can be found at www.ryandoesresi.com.