Eating Disorders: Asking for Help

11/23/2016 05:41 pm ET

Are you afraid to open up about your eating disorder to the people you love? You are not alone. Admitting that you have an eating disorder to the people you love can feel scary and overwhelming. You may not be sure how your family or friends will react to the fact that you have been struggling for a long time and that you did not know how to ask for help. Whether you are struggling with anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, or binge-eating disorder, asking for help will make you realize that there is a whole team waiting for you to help you on your recovery journey.

Be assured that the closest people in your life will advocate for you and will do anything to help you. They are always on your side and want to see you become healthy and enjoy life again. They will offer you unconditional love to nurture and strengthen you into becoming who you are.

However, the important people in your life may not know that you are struggling until you reach out and ask for help. Recognizing that you are struggling and then asking for help is essential for you to recover from an eating disorder. Asking for support from the people you love makes you stronger and will restore your willpower to overcome your disorder.

Steps in Asking for Help

1. Find the person (or people) you trust. The first step in asking for help is to confide in the person you trust the most. This can be a best friend, a close relative, a teacher, a sibling, or a parent. It is essential that you share your moments of struggle with the people you spend the most time with. This will allow them to be aware of environmental factors that may elicit destructive behaviors that can harm your health.

Although telling your family and friends may be the most difficult step in admitting you have an eating disorder, it is the most crucial step towards recovering from your eating disorder. Knowing that you are not alone in the struggle will make the journey towards recovery more meaningful.

2. Find a safe space and time to discuss your experience. Because the people in your life may not realize you are struggling, finding the right time and place to tell them is an important step. Family members tend to be very busy with their own lives but you must remember that you are their number one priority.

Find a comfortable place that your family members typically gather in and engage them in a conversation about how you have been struggling but want help to overcome your disorder. Make sure that you pick a time and place where they have your full attention and are not distracted by jobs, school, or other activities. Be honest and tell them that you need their help to move on from your eating disorder and are finally beginning to understand your disorder.

3. Understand that they may struggle with the shock. The people you spend the most time with, such as close friends and family members, care about you and want to see you through. Take a leap of faith and share your experiences, why you may be struggling, and ask for advice on what to do in your moments of difficulty. They will be so happy that you trusted in them and although they may be shocked at first, they will do anything for you to get the proper help you need.

Make sure you communicate to your family and friends that you were trying to understand your disorder but knew you could not overcome it without their help. Be honest and open and you will be surprised at how much your family and friends will be thankful that you confided in them.

Seek professional help. After confiding in close family members and friends, it is important that you take action and seek professional help.

Authored by Greta Gleissner, LCSW and Founder of Eating Disorder Recovery Specialists (EDRS). EDRS is a nationwide meal support and coaching program that provides services alongside treatment programs and outpatient providers. EDRS specialized in meal coaching, clinical coaching, in-home cooking, and therapeutic exposures 7 days a week; days, evenings, and weekends. In recovery since 2001, Ms. Gleissner has firsthand knowledge of the challenges individuals face in the eating disorder recovery process, particularly during transitions.

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