A Central Alberta woman has found support through a facebook group to open up about her eating disorders and how they have affected her life.

For Chelsey Rainy, her initial post was a way to open up to others and share the reality of how her anorexia and bulimia have taken control of her life.

She said especially during this time of year it's a hard problem to cope with between family and friends who might be aware of her challenge but aren't ready to support her.

"It's a whole mess of, you know, trying not to eat too much or trying to eat enough that your family is happy. My family has always been aware of it, but they're a lot different. They don't say anything, but they look at you and they know and you feel judged already," she said.

"It's bad for anybody that has a disorder. It's a constant struggle... it's hard for us."

"Your family doesn't understand and you feel all alone in dealing with it."

Rainy said she opened up online because it helped her to make sense of her own situation, but also because she hopes it might inspire others dealing with an eating disorder to reach out for help.

There have been a few people in her life, like her fiance and parents, who are in the know, but the vast majority of people around her have been kept in the dark. 

"I wasn't really dealing with it at all. I lied to everyone about it. There was no coping with it. There was no dealing with it. I just pushed it aside and if anyone asked, I would just lie about it and say I didn't gain weight eating food. That's how it's been for the last 12 years," she said. 

Rainy said she's been losing her hair due to the illness and this dire state is partially what made her realize she had to get help. In addition to hair loss, Rainy deals with exhaustion, isolation, depression, and shame.

Her first step towards change was reaching out to a group of women with whom she felt connected and safe to share her story. 

"I thought, you know, I can write this and maybe help myself and help other people, or I can keep hiding it and hide who I am," she said.

"It is an addiction. It is a problem. If I can help people then I want to. I want to show people how dark and disturbing this can be. The moment you take this path, you're risking a life that will lead you down a path that will end your life. I fear that for other women and I fear that for males, too."

The next step is to pursue either in-patient or out-patient treatments in Calgary or Edmonton. Rainy said there are very few resources available in central Alberta for people who struggle with eating disorders - something else she hopes might change after going public with her story. 

Eating disorders are classified as mental illness. If you are struggling with mental health problems or illnesses, seek help. Agencies such as the Canadian Mental Health Association, Primary Care Network, HealthLink and family doctors are a great place to start in Red Deer and area.