Many people have asked me similar questions: 'how can you openly speak about your ED?' or 'aren't you scared that people will know about you having ED and judge you'.' Others ask, 'what if people do not give you a job because of your history with ED?'. So, I will start answering them!
1) I can speak openly about ED because I am not ashamed of it. I no longer am sick and am working my way through a solid recovery. I speak about it because so many others are scared to do so. EDs, like other mental illnesses, have so much stigma attached to them. And this should not be the case. Any illness is not someone's fault. It bothers me when people are scared to speak about mental illnesses because this reflects all the sterotypical stigma associated with them. I am frustrated with the lack of understanding and empathy that people have towards illnesses. Moreover, many people do not know about ED. They know that anorexia is, for example, but they do not know how serious/harmful/painful it is. I want to help raise awareness. I want the world to know that ED is a real, serious illness. Along with this, I want to give people hope that recovery is possible. That ED is not the end of your life. By speaking about it openly, I hope to give people strength and courage to continue their fight, or to help others fight.
2) If people judge me because of my history with ED, then they have the problem, not me. Like I said, ED is a mental illness. I am recovering, and that is all that counts. Any person is vulnerable to becoming ill, just like I was. If someone were to judge me for my illness, they are not worth my time. It also means that they are simply too immature to understand that any disease is a serious matter, and the patient should never be blamed. My history with ED does not make me weak; it makes me stronger. It shows the world that I have endured my battles and have come out as a winner. People who judge me because of my history with ED do not understand that my journey has made me a stronger and wiser person. Moreover, people are never happy with us. They will never truly be pleased - some people will ALWAYS find something wrong with you, regardless of what it is. My place on earth is not to please others, but to glorify God in what I do. I believe that my journey with ED has helped me help others, raise awareness, and thank God for His mercy with me.
3) This relates to the first two, but I will elaborate anyways. Yes, I am a nursing student, soon to be a nurse. And YES, I had an eating disorder. So what? I became sick, just like anyone else could have. I am no longer symptomatic, and I am healthy. I am also a stronger person. My experiences with ED made me realize how much help people need, especially patients who are ill. This has taught me that patients need empathy, good care, and hope. That is what a good nurse does. I can now empathize with patients more, and I understand the value of good, compassioante nursing care. I am healthy and able to work, just like any other nurse. My history with ED actually gives me an advanatge because I now understand what kind of care patients need. I also have a beter understanding of how serious mental health issues are, and I can now help patients with this. I am a better nurse, person, and student because of my experiences with ED.
So, while people make look at my history with ED as a weakness, I view it as a strength. People who judge others because of their history, illnesses, or weaknesses do this wrongly and injustly. It is time we look past these supericial things and realize that we are stronger because of our experieces and illnesses.
'My grace is sufficient for you: for My strength is made perfect in weakness' (2 Coritnhians 12:9).