Re-posted from Cleveland Center for Eating Disorders (CCED) blog archives. CCED and The Emily Program partnered in 2014.
By Dr. Mark Warren
One of the saddest and complicated components of an eating disorder is how it encourages secrets. Behaviors, negative thoughts, feelings of shame, and the pain one carries often happen in secret. By the time someone presents for treatment they are so familiar and so used to keeping secrets that it can be very difficult to tell the truth.
Keeping secrets is not a failure, a betrayal, or an attempt by a patient to trick or fool a therapist or loved one. Keeping secrets is part of the illness. In treatment, we need to work on revealing secrets, on becoming more honest and finding ways to speak truths, even though those truths may feel that they expose us. They may expose how ill we really are, the sadness we carry, the obsessions of our minds, our fears that we will never recover, or past events that we wish were not true. The pain of holding secrets is too great and holding them only make us sicker and less likely to receive the help we need. Like radical acceptance, treatment requires radical honesty for patients, therapists, and loved ones. Speaking our truths and being honest both in treatment and with oneself is truly a key to recovery.
Contributions by Sarah Emerman