Why I Write About My Eating Disorder Under My Own Name

May 31, 2012 Angela E. Gambrel

Every so often, I am asked why I decided to write about my experiences with anorexia under my own name.

The simple answer? Because I refuse to be ashamed.I didn't start out consciously deciding to blog using my real name, and I think a little naivete was involved.

I started my personal blog, The Spirit Within, (formerly named Leaving ED) in 2008 when I was still quite ill. The blogging world was quite new to me then. I discovered it when I started reading a blog titled Feeding Hungry M (now deleted); written by the husband of a woman—"M"—who was trying to recover from anorexia.

I love to write and thought I would find it both therapeutic and rewarding to blog about my experiences with anorexia.

I have always been a very honest and transparent person. At first, I was hesitant about using my own name. As a former social worker, I know about the stigma surrounding mental illnesses and how it can have a negative impact.

But then I thought about it further. It is not like me to hide behind a pseudonym. Ever.

Don't get me wrong. I understand why some bloggers and others chose to use pseudonyms or write anonymously. But I have to be honest here. I have more respect for those who write and post under their real names.

The problem with stigma and shame in regards to mental illnesses is that when we do chose to write anonymously or under a fictitious name, we are subconsciously perpetuating the stigma and shame. It is important to show that people with mental illnesses are also fully functioning, productive members of society, and it is important to show that having a mental illness is nothing to be ashamed about. How can I do that if I use a pseudonym?

Writing about my experiences freed me to be open in other venues. I am a regular speaker at both a local university and the hospital where I have been treated for anorexia. These are very rewarding activities for me and I hope it's rewarding and helpful for others to hear me speak.

There are some dangers in being open about having a mental illness. It can affect both your current and future employment opportunities. It can be perceived by others as being excessively self-indulgent and narcissistic.

It can sometimes hurt you.

For example, several years ago I posted a picture of me with a feeding tube on my personal blog. I took it down after two days because I thought that it was both too triggering and too disordered. I mean, seriously??? Why would I want people to see me with a feeding tube in my nose? My original intent in taking the picture was to jolt some sense into myself; a ploy that obviously didn't work because it took two more years for me to embrace recovery and finally make progress.

Yesterday I discovered it posted on a website with several other pictures of women with feeding tubes. Posted without my permission.

To say I was livid would be an understatement. But there really isn't much I can do now, except learn to be more careful what I post.

I don't regret using my own name to write about my experiences with anorexia. I just hope for the day when eating disorders and other mental illnesses are not stigmatized, but instead seen as legitimate illnesses that are only part of who a person is.

Find Angela E. Gambrel on Facebook and Google+, and @angelaegambrel on Twitter.

APA Reference
Gambrel, A. (2012, May 31). Why I Write About My Eating Disorder Under My Own Name, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, June 18 from

Author: Angela E. Gambrel

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