Bathers or The Secret
Privacy and secrecy in eating disorders can be hard to tease apart. Where does my desire for privacy end and the destructive pattern of secrecy begin? Part of what allows eating disorders to run rampant these days is the secrecy. We the eating disordered engage in our symptoms in secrecy, whether the symptom of the moment/patient is exercise, restricting, purging, laxative abuse, etc. You can restrict right out in public and still make a secret of it, because people don't want to know. People don't want to talk about it; they don't want to know about it existing. They'd rather chastise and "hate" thin women while simultaneously glorifying them, and judge and empathize with women who are perceived to be overweight or obese. But people don't really want to think about anorexia, bulimia, or binge eating disorder as real things. They're punch lines or train wrecks, but not surrounding you and sneaking up behind you in the form of your sisters, daughters, friends and co-workers.
The catch-22, of course, is that eating disorders aren't going to dwindle until there is a more thorough understanding of not only their causes, but of what sustains them at a social level. But to have that discussion and reach that understanding, you've got to tell the truth and shame the devil, not just once and not just with one person or one patient, but over and over again, collectively. That's why this blog exists, but, let's face it, a meagre 100 readers a day (a good chunk of whom are just here in a quest for the perfect bikini line) will not a social revolution foment. I find myself ready to make the leap and leave certain privacies behind - for not only my good but the good of common knowledge - only on occasion. This Sunday, I just couldn't do it. I have to see that woman more often than I've been seeing her lately, and my psychological issues are... well, psych is tricky, isn't it? People are open about diabetes or heart disease, but you're not going to have people discussing their bipolar meds or their DBT for borderline personality disorder in the same conversation as they're discussing some of the amazing new blood sugar testing technology.
Our psyches are our own, but our bodies are casually considered public property. How do you reconcile that when you want to change this part of the Western world?