Recovering from an eating disorder is a tremendous milestone. There may come a time when you’ve been recovered for a while that you decide to tell your story. You may tell one person or you may tell a larger group. Motivation for sharing recovery stories varies, but often people want to share with the hope that their story might change even one life in some way. More and more we see celebrities speaking out about their struggles with eating disorders and mental illness. They have a very public platform from which to speak and have a lot of influence among their fan base. Actors like Kate Winslet and Jessica Alba have openly shared their struggles with eating disorders. While it is hard to know if these stories affect fans in a positive or negative way, it is important to note that recovery stories come from the heart and are meant to instill hope. Below is our recommendations on how to make your recovery stories a beacon of hope for others in recovery.
Thinking About Sharing Your Story?
There are plenty of ways to share: blogs, talks at school, participation in walks and awareness events. You won’t be lacking a platform, but one of the most important things to consider when planning to share your story is how you are going to care for yourself through the process. Your recovery journey is extremely personal and can be painful to recall. The National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) suggests the following when preparing to share your story:
- Be committed to your recovery! Before we can help others, we must help ourselves. Talk through your plans with your treatment team and prepare self-care tools to help you through.
- Stay within your scope: If you are not a treatment professional, it is important to stick to the facts of YOUR recovery story. How you got here is what worked for you, but may not work for others. If you are asked questions that only a professional can answer, make sure to defer. NEDA suggests considering having a professional on hand for such questions, if possible.
- Plan what you want to share: Remember that you are in control of what you share. You do not have to disclose every single detail of your journey in order to make an impact.
- Remember WHY you are sharing: Be very clear in your mind why you are sharing your story. What is your motivation? Sharing your story is a big responsibility. Leave your audience with a message of hope.
Sharing Recovery Stories: A Beacon of Hope. Do it Responsibly
Sharing your story obligates you to do so in a responsible way. When speaking to anyone about your recovery, make sure to take steps to avoid triggering details. For example:
- Leave out graphic details and images.
- Avoid speaking about numbers or specifics about behaviors.
- Make sure not to glorify the eating disorder (ex. Speaking of the “tremendous willpower” it took).
- Retain a message of hope even when discussing how serious eating disorders are.
Your recovery story can bring hope and empowerment to people struggling and raise awareness about eating disorders in your community. For more information on how to share responsibly, visit the National Eating Disorder Association website.