Please note that this is an Archived article and may contain content that is out of date. The use of she/her/hers pronouns in some articles is not intended to be exclusionary. Eating disorders can affect people of all genders, ages, races, religions, ethnicities, sexual orientations, body shapes, and weights.
By Center for Change
“If you see something, say something.” Most relate that statement to terrorism or maybe air travel safety. I relate that statement to eating disorder recovery. I truly believe that people ‘saying something’ is what started me on my recovery journey. Even if I didn’t fully appreciate it at the time.
At 17, when one of my best friends went to my mom about my concerning behavior, I was furious. I don’t know that I had ever been so angry at another person at that point in my life. I couldn’t even begin to process or deal with all of it. I was just so mad. If affected our relationship and it was years before it recovered. And all of my attempts with my mom to deflect her concern were unsuccessful due to another friend’s mother calling her to express her worry as well. Add this to growing concerns that my mother had herself. This wasn’t her first rodeo as she had a younger sister with an eating disorder AND did I mention that she was a Psych nurse? My secret was out.
I couldn’t hide anymore. It was in the open. In the open, is actually a good thing. It didn’t mean that I didn’t still have bumps in the road ahead. It didn’t mean that I was completely convinced that I needed help, but it did make me question my own certainty about nothing being wrong. I was willing to explore whether I had a problem. I hadn’t necessarily walked through the door to recovery yet, but I was following the directions to get there always telling myself that once I got there, I still had a choice. Of course, once I got there, the path had taught me so much that I was more than ready to walk through, but I didn’t know that back then.
It’s risky to talk. It takes a strong person to express concern about another person. I’m not even going to give you a list of the right or wrong ways to do it. It is so situational. Some of you might be offended that they went to my mom instead of me. But they KNEW me. They knew how well I could deflect. They also knew that my mom was the key to getting to me. It’s different with everyone and maybe it won’t be perfect.
I’m not going to tell you that ‘saying something’ won’t backfire. Sometimes it will. It could cost a relationship. I say, ask yourself what your silence could cost? To this day I am grateful that my friend and my other friend’s mom cared enough to speak out. They might have been the first, but they definitely weren’t the last. I didn’t recover for other people, but I needed their eyes to clearly see that mine were playing tricks on me.
Maybe you speak up and never hear gratitude from that person. Maybe you are wrong. Maybe you are overreacting. Maybe nothing changes. Doesn’t matter. You are only responsible for what you can control. Risk being wrong. If you are concerned about a friend’s mental or physical health or behaviors, don’t ignore it or think it will just go away. SAY SOMETHING. It might not be the only thing that makes a difference, but it could be part of the difference.