Continuing the Conversation About Eating Disorders
Telling and sharing one's story is about being brave enough to say it. It takes courage to Say it Brave when one may not want to accept that a loved one has an eating disorder, or being faced with a decision for a higher level of care, or standing behind the veil of parental shame and realization that an eating disorder is a biologically-based disease and not a choice.
I have been sharing pieces of my and my family’s journey with our son’s eating disorder across a variety of blogs and publications. With each written story or speaking to a group of parents and families, I’ve wondered if the story had any impact.
Did my story help another parent with their child’s eating disorder? Would my failures and successes in care decisions for my son instill wisdom with another family? Was there really any power to my story?
Overtime, I have received feedback where other parents found comradery with the story in helpful ways. However, it was one face-to-face meeting that proved to me that to Say it Brave, it brought hope to another family with their loved ones eating disorder.
I and my wife met with parents whose son required a higher level of care for his eating disorder. A family member who is one of our friends referred the parents to us. In reflection, it was the third of four treatment stays for my son, where I finally decided not to hide behind my parental shame.
In social circles, I began to speak openly on my son being in treatment for his eating disorder, and about one of my or my wife’s stories that were published. Some people asked a few questions and others just listened. Apparently, our story resonated with this particular friend.
I asked our friend why she thought to pass on our story. She explained that when her nephew was diagnosed with an eating disorder, it reminded her of our journey as parents, and how empowering she found our stories to be for her. Therefore, she shared our story and articles with her nephew’s parents.
Unknowingly to us, our friend did listen intently when we spoke about our son, and she bookmarked our stories after she read them. I was in awe to know that someone cared enough about our journey and what we have written about it. I was elated to know that when the unexpected diagnosis in her family presented itself, our stories were able to help other parents make the requisite care decisions for their son and themselves.
As with parental shame, my self-doubt on the power of a story with a loved ones eating disorder is no longer. I look forward in continuing conversations on the Say it Brave Collective. Who knows, maybe I’ll overcome another area of self-doubt too.