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To Disclose or Not to Disclose-That is the Question!

By: Emmi Barnoski, MSW, LSW, Alumni Rep at The Renfrew Center of Chicago

Posted on September 19, 2016

Sometimes the opportunity arises to talk about the fact that one is in recovery from an eating disorder. It can occur at school ("Where were you last semester?"), at work ("Why do you need to take a medical leave?), amongst family ("Wow-you've changed since grandma's birthday! What happened?") and friends ("Want to be my diet buddy again?"). Knowing what to say in these instances can be difficult. Do you tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth or do you make up a totally different storyline? Usually, the response can be somewhere in between. You absolutely have the right and, actually, the responsibility, of taking care of yourself in these situations by responding in the way that suits you best. Everyone need not know everything about you.

That being said, those whom you respect and honor may be granted more informational privilege. This needs to be a conscious process whereby you do what's best for you in your recovery at the moment-knowing fully well that you have the right to feel differently about it next week. It's your information to share-your story of courage and faith and strength and hope. Your story of challenges and victories. Ultimately, you don't have control over how people respond to your story but you do have control over how you tell it. Therefore, discuss your eating disorder it in the manner that rings true to you and pay attention to how you feel doing so. You can use disclosure, or lack thereof, to learn more about yourself and the people around you. Learning, after all, is something that never grows old!

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