Some people with eating disorders keep their disordered behaviors or recovery journey, such as bulimia recovery, a secret. This makes sense because it is very personal information. Aside from the vulnerability of sharing, this hesitance to share may also point to deeper feelings of shame.
Shame researcher Brené Brown says that shame is “an intensely painful feeling or experience of believing that we are flawed and therefore unworthy of acceptance or belonging.”  Essentially, shame is the feeling that we are bad. Many people with disordered eating experience feelings of shame that influence their eating behaviors.
Research from Blythin et al. revealed that shame is connected to the development of bulimia . However, people with bulimia also experienced an increase in shame due to the bulimic behaviors . Shame often motivates people to stay silent out of fear of judgment from others .
However, sharing your bulimia recovery story comes with potentially powerful benefits. Here are three benefits of sharing your story:
Sharing Can Help Heal Shame
Brené Brown created an approach to healing shame called Shame Resilience Theory. An important part of this approach is sharing with compassionate people the things you feel ashamed about. Brown’s research showed that sharing with others and receiving empathy was an effective way to reduce this emotion .
It is important that you choose someone who will be able to listen with empathy. Empathy is essentially the ability to understand someone else’s perspective. Empathy from others is a powerful remedy to the painful effects of shame.
Sharing Creates Connection With Others Going Through Bulimia Recovery
If you share authentically about yourself, it increases the chances that you will create genuine closeness with others. Connecting with others creates opportunities for mutual support. Support from others is an important aspect of recovery.
These bonds can also create space for each person to experience empathy and understanding from someone else. This exchange of empathy is helpful regardless of where someone is in their recovery. Whether someone is just realizing that they have signs of bulimia or they have been recovered for several years, authentic bonds based on empathy increases resilience .
Sharing Your Bulimia Recovery Story Increases Awareness and Creates Opportunities for Change
The more people talk about their experiences with eating disorders, the more others can become aware of this type of mental illness. It is important that more people become aware because bulimia is considered one of the deadliest mental illnesses .
Even though eating disorders are very dangerous, there is still a lack of awareness and knowledge about them throughout society. If people share their story about recovery, it is an opportunity for others to learn. Your recovery story could increase awareness of bulimic symptoms, treatment options, and risk factors for developing bulimia.
Most importantly, your recovery could give hope to people struggling with bulimia or people whose loved ones are dealing with this condition.
Regardless of how you choose to share your story, doing so can have a big impact on you and others. Whether it lessens the shame you feel, educates someone, or provides hope, these are all amazingly beneficial for the eating disorder community.
Imagine if sharing your story accomplished all three of these things? There’s not much more powerful than that.
References Brown, B. (2006). Shame resilience theory: A grounded theory study on women and shame. Families in Society, 87(1), 43-52. doi:http://dx.doi.org.proxy.library.ucsb.edu:2048/10.1606/1044-3894.3483  Blythin, Suzanne P. M; Nicholson, Hannah L; Macintyre, Vanessa G; Dickson, Joanne M; Fox, John R. E; et al.Psychology and Psychotherapy: Theory, Research and Practice Vol. 93, Iss. 1, (Mar 2020): 134-159.DOI:10.1111/papt.12198
About the Author:
Samantha Bothwell, LMFT, is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, writer, explorer, and lipstick aficionado. She became a therapist after doing her own healing work so she could become whole after spending many years living with her mind and body disconnected. She has focused her clinical work to support the healing process of survivors of sexual violence and eating disorders. She is passionate about guiding people in their return to their truest Self so they can live their most authentic, peaceful life.
The opinions and views of our guest contributors are shared to provide a broad perspective on eating disorders. These are not necessarily the views of Eating Disorder Hope, but an effort to offer a discussion of various issues by different concerned individuals.
We at Eating Disorder Hope understand that eating disorders result from a combination of environmental and genetic factors. If you or a loved one are suffering from an eating disorder, please know that there is hope for you, and seek immediate professional help.
Published June 30, 2020, on EatingDisorderHope.com
Reviewed & Approved on June 30, 2020, by Jacquelyn Ekern MS, LPC