"I believe that secrets keep you sick," Wainstein tells PEOPLE

By Aurelie Corinthios
Updated May 12, 2016 09:25 AM
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Credit: Evans Vestal Ward/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank/Getty; Rob Kim/Getty

When she joined the cast of Bravo’s The Real Housewives of New York City this season, Julianne “Jules” Wainstein knew it meant risking a public discussion about her eating disorder – and sure enough, it did.

“She looks like a really thin girl … she looks like there’s an issue,” said her costar, the unapologetic Bethenny Frankel, during the premiere episode. “I wrote a book called Naturally Thin. This is not naturally thin.”

A few episodes later, Frankel, 45, and Wainstein, 35, sat down for some one-on-one time, and Wainstein came clean about her battle with anorexia and bulimia.

In this week’s issue of PEOPLE, the Hong Korn-born socialite opens up about how being honest about her struggles has helped her.

“It was almost cathartic to come out with it,” she says. “I believe that secrets keep you sick, so what helps me is being open about it and talking about it.”

“And it was great to connect with Bethenny because I didn’t really get to know her until that conversation,” she adds.

Plus, she says that when those around “are aware what behavior to look for, it helps. It’s like letting go.”

For more about Jules Wainstein’s struggle with her eating disorder and recovery, pick up this week’s issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday

Of her six costars, though, she’s closest with Dorinda Medley.

“She’s been very supportive. She knows the whole story, and she knows me really, really well,” Wainstein says. “She’s been amazing.”

And while the other RHONY women might pick apart her eating habits at times, Medley “doesn’t analyze or criticize anything I do,” says Wainstein.

“She never put pressure on me – like, I have my little shticks, for example, I love Tabasco on all my food. I would put it on my cereal! Some of the other girls were like: ‘Oh, is that an eating thing?’ And it’s not! This is how I enjoy my food.”

The reality star – who runs a successful juice company, Modern Alkeme, and lives in New York City with her husband Michael and their son Jagger, 5, and daughter Rio, 3 – says she hopes her story will help inspire others who might be struggling to seek help, too.

“I thought doing the show would be great not only for me to meet new friends and eventually open up to six new women, but also to millions of viewers,” she says. “You never know who could be watching and hearing. All it takes is hope.”

The Real Housewives of New York City airs Wednesdays (9 p.m. ET) on Bravo.