AG.Softball asks: So I’m now in 8th grade and I don’t know how to tell my parents I had an eating disorder and I’m scared it may start back. It started in 6th grade and continued until 7th grade. I was very unhappy about myself because I have hips and I don’t have a thigh gap (I still am very insecure) I was finally able to stop because I started feeling sick, having panic attacks and always having chest pains. It took me the whole summer of 2016. I hate my birthday because it’s always about my sisters or my parents fight EVERY YEAR. This year I’m already starting to have panic attacks again and I’m scared I might start not eating again or start throwing up any food that I eat. My parents say I’m the perfect child that they can always depend on and never have to worry about me. I don’t want to disappoint them. How do I tell my parents or get help? Thanks!
Hi AG.Softball –
As you clearly know, eating disorders are a huge issue with young people today. They can cause misery, illness, and even lifelong health problems or death. I’m very happy you’re asking about this, and not keeping it a total secret.
One of the most common traits of people with eating disorders is a sense of perfectionism. That you need to live up to an idealized view that some people have of you.
So let me talk to you about me. I bark loudly and annoy neighbors. I shed everywhere. I poop in public. Sometimes I throw up on my human’s bedsheets. I jump on people who don’t like dogs.
Does that sound like I’m perfect? No? Well I can tell you, my human Handsome thinks I am! He says so every day.
You see, he thinks I’m perfect because I’m perfect at being me. Not because I’m a show-dog or a performer or a perfectly trained hunting dog or anything like those.
And you are perfect too. And you’ll be perfect if you gain some weight, or your face breaks out, or you have bad breath, or if you have a horrible accident and lose part of your body… you’ll STILL be perfect, as you.
So I certainly understand your fears of your family acting goofy around you, especially on your birthday. So I really urge you, if there’s still time: Get your parents to sit down with you and tell them ALL about the eating. And tell them that their fighting, or their making your birthday all about your sisters, makes you want to throw up!
And I want you to do one other thing too. My friend, I want you to talk to someone professional about this. You could start with your family doctor, but I’d really like you to talk with someone who specializes in eating disorders – a therapist or psychologist. Since you have control over it now, it’s not an emergency. But this is something that could turn into one. And a good therapist will help you with the issues underneath your behaviors. Your anxiety, your fears, and maybe even your family themselves.
The worst thing you could do is to keep this to yourself, AG.Softball. Bring these feelings out into the open, and see how your parents deal with them. Most likely, they’ll be very concerned, and want to do anything they can to help.
I definitely hope so.
And please let me know how it goes!
Best of luck,