"I'd be honored to support you in what you're struggling with and it means so much that you're opening up. I definitely don't think any less of you and I'm not judging you for what you're going through. I know it's a very real thing."

These were the words I heard after I opened up to someone I care a lot about, but who had been in the dark about my eating disorder.

I was completely humbled.

I'd spent countless months building a monster in my head that said this person wouldn't love me and would most likely leave me if they found out. I was sure they'd look down on me and see a sick girl with an eating disorder instead of the real me going forward. I figured meals would be awkward and I'd have the food police on my ass all the time.

So, naturally, I worked really hard to hide it. I told lies. I pushed them away. I created distance. I shut doors. I tried to deal with it quietly on my own.

But, you know what? That approach didn't work. It built walls in the relationship. The other person was inevitably effected. I didn't have the support structures I needed to get better. Nobody won. 

Addictions, disease, disorders, depression and personal crisis aren't meant to be handled alone. We need support. And, if you're struggling with something really difficult — which all of us do at some point — you're going to have to reach out somehow, in some way if you want to move forward.

The great news is that people are incredibly kind and understanding. Chances are good friends and family have your best interest at heart and will do whatever they can to help. Just imagine what you'd do for your friends and family! 

If you ask me, friends and family were put on this planet to help each other grow with their love. In fact, it's their primary job.

Now, I've opened up to thousands of people here on Vixi and I have a core group of friends and family that know about my eating disorder. This has given me a constant stream of support and people I can go to for strength, shoulders to cry on and a numbers to call on days that are really hard. Their loving-kindness has been essential to my recovery.

After sharing so many times, I learned a few things about how to open up about a tough subject...

1. Encourage & Point Them In The Right Direction To Getting More Information.

The more people understand the more they'll be able to help. If they haven't been through what you've been through, they don't know the nature of the beast or what if feels like and how it effects you. Make a list of books and websites that can educate them. Even better, put them in touch with someone who has been through it. My dad ended up reaching out to his chiropractors wife. She was able to share some of the details of her experience and it really helped him learn about what people with eating disorders go through and helped him have conversations with me about it.

2. Make Sure They Get The Support They Need

Let them know it's ok to get their own support, especially parents. To hear that their child is suffering and having a hard time can be difficult. They'll worry for your life. They'll lose sleep. They'll spend late nights researching how to help you. Things will probably get emotional and heavy for them and it's great if they have a support system to reach out to. My mom reached out to one of her best friends. Turns out this best friend had also had an eating disorder so she was able share her perspective and it brought the two of them closer.

3. Do Your Best To Open Up.

It not going to be easy to talk about it for the first time. Or the second. But it gets easier. I started out by journaling what I wanted to say. It gave me a chance to practice and think things through. Then I talked to a therapist. This was someone who was not emotionally attached to me so I felt free to tell the truth. Then I started talking to family and friends. Then my online community.

4. Tell Them How To Support You. 

I know this seems obvious, but it's easily overlooked. You're reaching out because you're requesting support. But people aren't mind readers. If there are things you want — or don't want — let them know. 

Is there anyone you can open up? Anyone you know you need to open up to? This is your call to action and I want you to know you're not alone.

Please reach out to me if you need more courage. I read every email.

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