Telling Loved Ones You Have Bulimia

Better to tell or not?

Overwhelmingly, it’s better to tell your loved ones than not. Keeping the secret is not only hard, but the stress of hiding can add pressures that increase symptoms of bulimia.

When your loved ones know, even though it’s embarrassing to talk about, they are in a position to help. That help doesn’t necessarily mean they get to manage your life for you, but it does mean you’ll get an ally. If they don’t know, they can’t understand.

Eventually, those close to you will discover what’s going on anyhow. By broaching the subject yourself, you can have control over the conversation. Too many bulimics simply blurt out the facts in a burst of emotion, sometimes as a verbal weapon, sometimes just because they’ve grown frustrated with their loved ones. It’s much better to think things through and just come clean.

How do I talk about it?

First, you can practice. There are a host of forums where you can share your experiences anonymously with others who have the same eating disorder. Sharing in this way will help you talk about it with your loved ones; much of the conversation will repeat what you’ve already said online.

Second, learn as much about bulimia as you can and about how it affects you specifically. In this way you can talk about it less emotionally and more like how a doctor or therapist would. Keeping it emotionally neutral like this helps everyone focus on the facts instead of getting into blame.

Third, think about a good time to bring it up. Best are those relaxed times when the person you want to talk to can give you the attention the subject deserves. Often this is when you are driving somewhere, but any normally quiet time will do. The discussion has to be face-to-face. Don’t try to have a meaningful conversation about it by text message or even over the phone, unless these are your only options.

Fourth, think about what you want to accomplish with the conversation. Have some suggestions in mind for what they can do to help. If you just want a shoulder to lean on, say that. Our loved ones are often at a loss as to how they can help or what you want them to do. Tell them.

Most of all, don’t put it off. It can be a tough conversation to have, but you are going to feel much, much better for having done it.

Eating Disorder Self Test. Take the EAT-26 self test to see if you might have eating disorder symptoms that might require professional evaluation. All answers are confidential.

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