A client in recovery wishes you knew:
1. I’m not lazy (even though I’m fat)
2. Your judgement hurts- a lot. (I’m probably more judgmental of myself than you are of me anyway, I constantly have to content with “negative voices”.)
3. You can help by valuing me as a person for my ideas and what I do- not based on what I look like.
4. It can be really hard to get up and face the world everyday confidently when you know that others are judging you so much.
5. My eating disorder helps me cope with really tough stuff. Is it healthy and good? No. But it helps me to function when all else fails. I’m working on finding a better way.
Lindsay Stenovek wishes you knew:
I wish that others knew that people suffering from eating disorders aren’t “liars” or “manipulative” or “non-compliant.” I cringe every time I hear this! Even though eating disorders are maladaptive, someone suffering from an eating disorder often feels that their behaviors are helping them cope with life, avoid emotional pain, manage anxiety, etc… This comes in many different forms and serves many different purposes. As a dietitian, I am asking my client to decrease the use of these coping skills. That can be terrifying for the client. It’s understandable that it would trigger them to report inaccurately, tell me what they think I want to hear or change their story between an appointment with me and another treatment team member. This is not manipulation. This is not lying. It’s fear and shame and all of the other challenges that come from dealing with a serious illness. Labeling someone this way adds fuel to this shame and keeps us from helping those who need our non-judgmental support, understanding and trust.
Lindsay Stenovec, MS, RDN, CEDRD
Founder of The Nurtured Mama Program