An Interview with Chloë Grande, an Eating Disorder Recovery Advocate (Part 3)

Photo credit: Rachel Sulman

Could you explain a bit more about the eating disorder recovery process?

This can be a very personalized journey. One thing I would mention is the weird competitive aspect of eating disorders. I’m starting to see that on social media where people will talk about how long they’re in a hospital or whether they had a feeding tube, which I don’t think is relevant. Overall, you should not compare the degrees of illness or sickness. So for me, I was in an outpatient program, so my family and I would go a couple of times a week, and I’d speak to a psychiatrist. Then, there was a physician, and she would do more of the vitals, the weighing, and all that fun stuff. After, the family would be brought together with the therapist I spoke with earlier, and we would talk about recent things that were happening because my family was very much a part of my support system at that time. The help and the support I’ve got in over the years has changed and morphed. For example, when I was in university, I accessed student services, and then recently, now that I’m out of school and living on my own, I have a private therapist. There are a lot of different modules that one can go about getting support, and then now, with COVID, I think there’s more support we can get online. I think it’s cool now that we have virtual and more accessible ways of getting help.

How did your family and friends play an important role in helping you recover?

At the beginning of my journey, my friends were not involved. It was just my family, and I think that put pressure on them since they were the only ones who knew. And looking back, it must have been difficult to have someone who was ill and not recognize that they were ill, so that family-based therapy program worked well because then they were also able to get support for what they were going through. My parents also attended a support session just for parents, which was super cool. I wish they had one just for siblings that my sister could have attended. So in the beginning, it was more of my family being the support, and I think now it’s amazing when friends will read my blog posts or even bring it up in conversation and tell me parts that they can relate to. I don’t expect people will come to me and offload all their personal histories, and it’s totally up to them, but if they feel comfortable coming to me, I think that’s an honor and a privilege.

What encouraged you to open up about your experiences?

That’s a great question. Because I grew up reading so much and then also reading about other people’s recovery stories, that was a significant point of inspiration, and I remember thinking, “Oh, I’m never going to feel comfortable talking the way they do,” so it was something that I aspired to be. I just wasn’t sure when I’d feel ready to get to that point. But because I find writing to be therapeutic, writing my story and doing so in a way that I try to be a bit more general so other people can relate to it was helpful. Also, I try to open up the conversation and address so many other mental illnesses that mesh into an eating disorder like depression and anxiety. I like to bring attention to those aspects as part of my journey.

How are you able to manage your ED recovery blog along with your career?

When it started, I was fortunate to be working at home, so I was able to do my blog more during evenings and weekends. So I had a bit more of a flexible schedule. And now that I’ve been blogging more, it’s taking on a bigger presence in my life, and I’m looking at exploring it and turning it into something bigger. But it’s a big-time commitment. But I think it’s a cause that’s near and dear to my heart. And the thing is, I don’t see many people blogging about eating disorders, so I think that motivates me knowing that I’m spreading hopefully the information that people need. So I personally just really enjoyed doing it, and that’s what keeps me going.

How do you feel about the growing community in support of ED recovery of therapists, dieticians, and activists like you?

Oh, I think it’s amazing. It’s super cool, and I’ve been fortunate to connect with some of those people, too, and I look up to them. I consider myself pretty new to this, as I only started my blog in February 2021, but it’s a small community. I’m not a dietitian, so I love to follow such accounts and get more information, but I’m also aware that anything I write or talk about should not be taken as health advice. It’s just my personal lived experience. I think it’s super cool, though, to have this community of people, and what I like is that they’re engaging not only people who are recovering from eating disorders but even people who aren’t affected personally by eating disorders that may have issues with food or can relate personally to some of the things that happen within an eating disorder. There’s a lot to learn from people who have gone through eating disorders and medical professionals.

Any final thoughts?

The final thought I would like to leave with is the saying, “this too shall pass,” because I know when I was in the worst of my eating disorder, I felt like I was going to be like that for the rest of my life, so knowing that even the bad times will also be momentary along with the good times helps. We can focus on what makes us happy because everything passes. Everything is transient, and we’re just along for the ride of life. Thank you both so much for having me.

Where to Find Chloë!