I’ve lost quite a lot due to my eating disorder. Other people around me have suffered as well. Its been really hard on my family, especially my mom. Even with all the hell an eating disorder causes, I never expected my illness to cause our family to lose close friends.
I’m going to call this woman Carrie. She is a mom of a guy who was in early college with me and two boys near my brother’s age. Ever since I began early college, my mom and really our whole families grew very close. I mean we switched to our church because they invited us first. My mom definitely considered her a best friend. I was also pretty close to her, even more so after I started volunteering so much at church. Her younger boys were friends with my brother and I. We had their family over for dinner and to swim and they even watched Milo for us.
This all came to an abrupt halt recently. At first, I was the only one treated differently. Suddenly Carrie wouldn’t talk to me anymore, even though I tried to be nice and friendly. I spent a long time thinking I’d done something wrong and not knowing what it was. It actually got so bad the youth pastor had to speak with her. After that she got a little nicer, but overall she was still extremely distant. At this point she also began to avoid my mom more.. This was at the beginning of last summer.
I made some posts one Facebook once I hit my one year mark from being admitted into PHP. I’ve been trying to open up more and more about it on social media because I want to spread awareness. Shortly after, I was admitted into FV once again for IP. Our church put this in the prayer chain (without my name) and I posted some more general “please be praying for me” type of things on FB. Even being so open about my mental health to people who ask I just didn’t want to make a big deal of it.
Since then, every time we go to church, the whole family ignores us. My mom was really torn up about it and didn’t quite understand what went wrong. I kind of had a feeling of why Carrie may have done these things, but one day a week after I was discharged she got the real answer: Carrie doesn’t believe eating disorders or mental illnesses in general are real and thinks that I am faking this all for attention.
I cried the first time I heard that. I immediately felt guilty that I had cost my mom such a close friendship. Soon after, I realize I shouldn’t be. I didn’t ask for these illnesses. Heck I really don’t want sympathy. All I do desire when it comes to my story is to promote awareness and help others going through these things. It’s views like Carrie’s that make it so much harder to live with these problems.
I’m angry. I can’t believe anyone could be so harsh about such serious illnesses! I also didn’t understand how she could justify being terrible to me and my family over this. While I may not ever accept that this severing of friendship had to happen the way it did, I have learned from it.
I realize now that there are more people like Carrie out there. And there will be relationships broken just like what I experienced. The only way to ever prevent this intolerance of mental illness is to push awareness even more. That’s exactly what I’m going to do until everyone sees mental illness as a flaw in brain chemistry, not character; serious problem not something to be brushed off; and a legitimate diagnosis, not fraud for attention. We have a long way to go to erase these negative mindsets, but it will happen, one person at a time.