Monday, 31 August 2015

ED Community

An anonymous writer left a very interesting comment on my blog yesterday
Posing a couple of questions
About the ED community
And does the idea of such a community help strengthen or weaken the fight against the illness?
And also
What role an ED should play in a persons identity?
I thought these were really interesting questions
And it's something I've thought a lot about over years
And I remember it being addressed in treatment also

First question
Does the idea of an ED community strengthen or weaken the fight against our illness? 
I think there is no simple answer for this
And of course every case is individual 
In my opinion
Our community can do both 
As we know 
Support is essential 
Both in the midst of the illness
And in recovery 
When I first started writing my blog three years ago
I was in a very different place
I wrote about fasting
And actively trying to lose weight
I can remember me and other girls encouraging each other to lose weight
And that is so dangerous 
In my case 
That didn't last long 
And I saw that I was treading on thin ice
But at the same time
I craved to be with others like me
It was so important to me to connect with others in the same situation as me
This community has saved my life over and over again
And in a lot of ways has helped me recover and move on from my ED 
Our community is a mixture of people still in active ED
And those choosing recovery
And we seem to co-exist well 
Although I do admit
I've had to pull back from some blogs that are upsetting or triggering
That is nothing against the person
It's just very difficult to be around very ill people when you yourself are trying to get well
And of course when in recovery
You want to build a good foundation
And probably have more in common with those in recovery 

I guess this why Pro-ana is so prolific
There Is strength in numbers
You are more likely to do something 
If someone is doing it with you
Hence why people have 'ana buddies'
In a sick and twisted way
These girls are each other's cheerleaders 
It's something that fuels the ED

I remember when I was in treatment 
It was a psychiatric hospital
With an eating disorder recovery programme
The ED girls were on a ward called St. Brigids 
It was a mixed ward
So there were patients with other illness there too
Like anxiety or depression
There were up to eight girls on the ED programme at a time
We spent so much time together 
All day every day
And most of the time we were talking about food, weight and our EDs
Although this wAy works for some
It most definitely did not for me
Bring in such close contact with other sufferers made life so hard
I was constantly comparing myself to others 
That and the fact that our sole existence was wrapped up in the ED 
Made it so hard to make steps towards recovery

One thing that I noticed while in treatment
Was that if one person was doing well
The rest tended to do well too
But if one person was struggling
The rest struggled too
Why was this?
We were all so in tune with each other 
And if one persons behaviours were very disordered 
That permeated through the group
But also if some one was making positive steps 
It was almost like it gave permission to the other girls to do the same
So I think being part of an ED community can both help and hinder

As ED sufferers 
We have to battle triggers every single day 
Triggers that can send us right back in to the arms of our ED 
So support is essential 
And very necessary 
I know that I couldn't possibly do this on my own 
No way
No how 
We crave to be around others like us 
So we know that we are not alone 
This can be both a blessing and a curse
I guess it would be like an alcoholic or a dug addict
In their addiction 
They spent all their time with other addicts
Whether they liked them or not 
They were on the same wave length
But when one addict gets clean
They absolutely have to change one thing 
And that one thing is everything
Including people, places and things
A recovering addict can not spend all their time with using addicts 
And expect to stay clean
As the saying goes
If you hang around a barbers for long enough
You will end up getting a haircut 
In the same vein
You are the company you keep

To answer the other question 
What role should our EDs play in our identity
This is also a great question
And again
Is something I addressed in treatment 
In the midst of our illness
Our identity and the illness become so emeshed 
I know when I was sick
My illness was my identity 
Everything else that I was was overshadowed by my ED
I was no longer a sister
A daughter
An auntie
A friend 
Now I was anorexic 
And precious little else 
I distinctly remember saying in treatment that I was so afraid to let go of my ED
As I didn't know what would be left without it 
I panicked about the fact that giving up my illness
Meant giving up my identity
When I was sick
I assumed the sick role
And when you have such a role for such a long time 
It's very hard to break away from it

For me 
I felt that my illness brought my family together 
And I worried that if I got well
Then I wouldn't be as close with my family
Because that's what happened when I became ill
My family came together 
And got very close 
So I feared the opposite would happen if I let my ED go

Eating disorders continue to be complex and difficult illnesses to treat
The person in question has to want to get well 
And will not get well until they decide to
No matter how much somebody wants it for you 
They can't do it for you
Support is essential 
I know I couldn't have got well without the support of various professionals, my family 
And of course you my beautiful blogger friends 
We alone can do it 
But we can not do it alone
As they say in the meetings 
I know for sure
That being part of this community has been a huge part of my life for the past three years
As you know 
I try to write every day
I spent copious amounts of time on blogger 
You girls are some of my best friends
I worry about our little community
As it seems to be ever shrinking all the time
Blogger seems to not be the place to be anymore
Instagram seems to be the cool place to be
But blogger will forever hold a special place in my heart
As its here that I started 
And I love to follow the stories of you girls 

Let me know what you think about the questions posed in this post
And anything else on your mind.....


  1. being in recovery for as long as i have - when i read "what role should the ED play in our identity" part, every nerve of my body screamed: none.

    your ED is the thing that keeps you away from your identity. it thoroughly is the one thing that keeps you monotonous. we sit here. read an ED blog, the next, the third. if t they deep in their illness, they will all sound the same: food weight calories must get lose weight and become thin. that's it. the more that you are in recovery, the more you are able to distinguish your identity from your ED. your ED steals your identity. you literally become your diagnosis after some point. you are an embodiment of atypical anorexia or bulimia nervosa or whatever you've been diagnosed with. which isn't right at all. a person shouldn't become their disease. a person should realise they are more.

    that is why in the beginning stages of recovery, a lot of people tend to continue to lean on ED as if it was a safety blanket. because we do not have an identity at that stage. all we have is the ED. the more we distance ourselves from it, the more we see, the more we hear - the more we become as a result. the more you recover and you are able to recognise that the ED is the enemy, the more of yourself you are.

    i am nothing like the girl pre-ED or during. i am something else completely. there is a host of attributes i have now that i have not had before, and i will continue to grow well into them.

    it is why i mentioned that i noticed that a lot of people that have ED's tend to become very introverted. i think this is probably due to the fact that when we had developed the illness, we started to shy away from the environment and stopped engaging with it. anything that had a possibility of food (going out with friends, just generally meeting someone for coffee, etc) was an anxiety-producing process. that is why i stress on it so badly that you have to break the introvert type persona. i am very introverted, but that doesn't mean i shy away from social situations. i look forward to them very much (but not as often as others would like) and am having less and less difficulty operating around a bunch of people.

    what i do want to stress on, however - if there is a part of your identity the ED helps carves, it's the things that you have to find out on your own. you allow the experience to shape you as a stronger person in general. you know more. you are not as ignorant of how the world can work or how mental illness can destroy your life in such a way that you aren't sure what happened here.

    i also want to add on - as per ED community and the recovering community, other than the things you mention - the prospect of the fact that even in recovery, we trigger each other rather easily. in our validation of illness, often, we will trigger others. i know that i keep on scrolling through instagram a few times and have noticed that a lot of people that are in recovery from AN that are not weight restored yet will talk as if they are. they will take pictures of themselves when they are significantly underweight and upload it up without a second that. or they will take pictures of their very small meals and upload it. it's not okay. and it's very triggering for those that are starting to recover whom pick up on that behaviour. or those that are struggling with their thoughts and see other people indulge in their habits and say that they're in recovery. which isn't right at all.

    i find that in the beginning of recovery, EVERYTHING is triggering. every. single. thing. so for a sake of people telling that person that they are worth it/they should eat, they might have driven another person out of the recovery mindset. which is terrible.

    seeing four or five triggering posts can destroy the work you put in over six or seven months in about five seconds flat. and that is not fair to you.

    (continued in comments)

  2. (continuation)

    i think also we tend to forget many times - if we immerse ourselves in the ED community too much that normal people do not think like this. normal people do not normally stay at such low BMI's. normal people do not think about their food so consistently. exposing yourself to abnormality makes you think that it is okay. but it's not. skipping meals is never a good idea. eating so little is terrible, etc, etc.

    pros and cons. i learned a lot from the ED community. particularly Minnie Maud (a method of recovery where you eat 2,500-3,000 calories. that made me learn a lot about my body and what it can and cannot take and what it needs to recover. i also was able to restore my metabolism a lot as i am never cold these days.)

    i love you, Ruby.
    take care xxx

    -Sam Lupin

    1. Thanks for this Sam
      You make so much sense
      And I love the way your mind works
      You explain things in such a way
      That they are so easy to understand
      I have no doubt that you will make a very fine doctor one day
      And will help so many people
      You have an amazing ability to see the good in everyone and every situation
      That is a rare and precious gift

      I love you too x

  3. I for one find the ED community a massive hindrance in my recovery. In fact your blog is the only one i can bear to read. I find it easier to distance myself from others with EDs to avoid being drawn into the competitive nature of the disorder. I remember when i was last in treatment the other patients were always asking each other their lowest bmi and would respond with 'well mine was -32 (slight exaggeration)' like they thought they would get some award. I struggle with ridiculously low potassium levels and there was one girl who would always ask me what my level was and when i wouldn't answer she'd say hers was a level where not only would she have been in a medical ward, she'd have been dead. Over the last year i have managed to maintain my weight at a level i'm not comfortable with because i've protected myself from this and refused to be weighed by my ED team. I've weighed myself but it doesn't matter so much to me if only i know the number. When my weight becomes such a focus then it becomes more of an issue for me and i feel like i have to live up to the diagnosis and actively try to lose weight before the nest weigh in. The problem i'm having now though is that because of my low potassium levels my ED team called for a Mental health act assessment out of the blue and i narrowly escaped being sectioned. The conditions set were that i attended the local day service a few days a week and had meals on those days. Which means i am being forced to be around other patients who are incredibly emaciated (even though i'm underweight i'm a lot larger than the others and thats a fact not body dysmorphia) I'm already finding it hard and wanting to lose weight. You see for me, when i'm around emaciated people regularly it becomes the norm and i start to feel abnormal if that makes sense. Also, I don't struggle with the actual eating part but with purging afterwards and watching others pushing around miniscule portions and saying how much they've eaten makes me feel greedy. I have spoken to my team about why i don't find this approach helpful but they just come back with 'its because you're trying to avoid confronting your ED' when in actual fact i've worked damn hard to protect myself from the things that are my triggers. Anyway, i've waffled on too long when all I really meant to say was i find the ED community a hindrance in my own recovery. lol
    Sending love xx

    1. I can see your point GM
      I can see how Some people may not get the benefit from this community
      Even I find it hard sometimes
      And the situation you are in at the moment is extremely difficult
      And not conducive to getting well
      I never thrived being around other ED sufferers
      I got sucked in to the 'Who is the sickest?' Game time and time again
      And the thing is
      No one can win
      Unless they die of course
      But it is part of the illness that I hate
      The manipulation
      The head games
      It's just horrible

      I hope you manage to turn things around
      I really do
      I promise you that recovery is do much more fulfilling that bring acyivei n your ED
      But like everything
      You will have to find that out for yourself

      Take care x

  4. Even when I was ill, I found it very odd reading peoples' blogs that referred to it as a separate entity, as though it was a separate personality. That's very unnerving. I never called it "Ana" or whatever else people name it, I just said my disorder. I think that calling it that gives it a life of it's own, makes the person have less power and less responsibility, to become trapped by this thing that's all in the mind. I found that if I was wanting to get better, I would have less comments or it would be, yes, it's not for me, but good luck and that would make it difficult, like you were breaking up with friends that were suffering too. If I was trying to fast or eat less, the same people would champion me for it. For a while I would just sympathize but I really don't ever remember telling people to lose weight. Maybe at one point but it was very short lived. I've always studied psychology in my undergraduate and it didn't sit right from an educational perspective or a moral one and now that I've started my graduate degree in clinical mental health, it really really doesn't sit right and I see what a hindrance that disorder is to the mind. My program stresses total wellness of the mind and body and how you can't be a successful, healthy helper or even a regular person in your life if you've got baggage like that. It's not even just the mind, it's to opportunities, to relationships, to living. It's literally one of the most poor me disorders next to addiction. (Sorry, I know you were an addict as well, but I work at a treatment center and I spend a lot of time with addicts. No offense meant. I adamantly believe ED's are an addiction and I'm playing with treating it similar to an addiction in practice.) The person suffering always finds a way that they can't do something, can't be good enough, and then when someone confirms this in even the slightest through constructive or just plain destructive criticism the person swirls down into depression and anger. An eating disordered person is competitive or apathetic, engrossed in appearance and constantly thinks of themselves over and over again like a broken record. Not good enough. Not pretty enough. Not smart enough. Negative self talk. I used to think that I wasn't selfish because I was thinking negatively but really, all I could do was think of myself. There's a sick fixation and there person acts so childlike. Emotional regulation is completely blown and I completely understand why many people that have it also have Borderline Personality Disorder, because anorexia numbs emotions and BPD is too many that can't be dealt with in a healthy manner. The mental growth and maturity is absolutely arrested and like kids on the playground, other sufferers keep the person stuck in the game, the club. Misery loves company. Needs it. Craves it. Dies without it. I want to work with ED's because there's a need for professionals in my state and I'm in recovery, if we say it like addicts say it when a person is well again, but I am absolutely divorced from that lifestyle, that self hate, that petty sadness when other do well and I fall behind because of my own doing. I don't know that I pity it anymore. I do, but yet there's a sort of boiling under the surface because it's not right. It's not good or helpful. It's powerlessness.

    1. I'm sickened by. It strains families and we pretend it only hurts us but that's immature and selfish too. I want to stick it in a sack and drown it quite honestly. Even when I feel kinda fat, as is normal, I try not to dwell on it. I get more men hitting on me than I ever did when I had bones. I have curves now. I look like a healthy, attractive, engaging woman. You can't engage with the world with an ED and you certainly can't when you're wrapped up in the community either. I have no good feelings towards it and I have no good feelings towards people that encourage others to remain in the illness. It's all wrong. Absolutely wrong. Photos take aren't uploaded because the person wants people to tell them that they're fat, I think they know on some level that they aren't and they need to be told their struggle has gotten them somewhere, makes them feel superior and validated in their illness when people say, wow, look at your *insert bones sticking out* I wish I could look that way. There's a narcissistic component to it and the community can be the mirror, or I believe it was a pond he looked at, that the person needs. The complexities and inter related things about it are so crazy to sort out and untangle which makes me think I could do this, be a professional working with clients, but dammit it's infuriating lol. No one writes I'm so depressed and another person is like, yeah? Well I'm more depressed and then a race to be the most sad human ensues, but that's what it is basically. It's bonkers though. No one wants to be the most schizophrenic or anxious, but focusing on the weight makes everyone forget that they're vying to me the most mentally ill. Insanity. After a while the ED community becomes the only one that cares because the rest of the world is sick of being drug down to the depths and hurt by the person that's ill and the only people left are the ones at the bottom of the ocean too. But, I should stop lecturing and being so negative. I made some very sweet friends out of this and in fact, my best friend in the entire world is one which I met on blogger. We've met each other in real life and we fly to see each other throughout the year and it's developed above and beyond a disorder to a relationship, one of the best friendships I've ever had in my life, and I would never have gotten that had I not started out blogging about my ED. I wouldn't have met you or Bella, Annie, or anyone else I love talking to. I stick around and read some of the ones still stuck and I try to challenge them in as kind of a way as possible and I want to make sure that they're okay, but I've since moved on to writing about other things and more creative writing, and that's the beauty of blogger, the evolution. I'm just really happy that you're climbing out of the pit. <3

    2. Thanks Eve
      I appreciate you commenting
      And girl you speak the truth
      EDS are most definitely a selfish disorder
      That's what I hate about them
      Now that I have some distance between me and the illness
      I can see how damaging it was to me and everyone else around me
      And yes
      It is like another addiction
      And addiction is inherently selfish

      I'm just so glad to be climbing out of the pit as you say
      I feel clear headed At the moment
      In my illness
      Everything was so fuzzy
      So blurred
      I now feel strong
      And capable
      And I no longer crave to be sick or underweight
      I now know that bones are not what I want
      I want to be healthy
      And fit
      And heslthy in mind too

      Thanks Eve
      You are a star x

  5. I have psychologist and psychiatrist acquaintances who have brought up the issue of inpatient ED programs, and why they have such a low success rate, and it is precisely because each of the patients is seeing, up close and personal, so many others who are just and sick and thin (if not sicker and thinner) than they are, and it just makes them want to be thinner. I know I would have spun right the feck out of control if I'd been exposed to that many other people with ED's so bad they needed treatment. My one friend specializes in treating people with ED's, and she says she suggests most of her clients go to NA or something similar, and she's got a pretty high success rate with those she's treating. She's not an MD, but it comes to one of her clients needing inpatient treatment, I know she farms them out to doctors who will sneak them into inpatient programs for recovering addicts.

    I was the same as you with my blog - when I started it, I was a complete slave to the ED. Before that, I was very active on prettythin, which was a facebook-type site with forums and most of the members were very disordered with no desire to get well. Those were probably my worst years. I can't read a lot of the Ed-related blogs anymore now I'm really trying to be well, especially with all the progress I've made. ....despite the occasional meltdown in fitting rooms.


  6. I can see how that would work Mich
    Having ED sufferers engage in addict treatment
    I know back in 2004
    When I went in to drug rehab for the
    First time
    It was there that I admitted I had anorexia for the first time
    They treated both
    And I did really well there
    Because I was not around other anorectics
    I wasn't looking at it all day
    Like I was in ED treatment
    A lot of the girls I was in treatment with went on to get well from home
    I think inpatient facilities need to take a good look at their methods
    Because in my opinion
    They just don't work x

  7. do you know what i am fed up of all this oh i was so ,so selfish disorder now I'm well stuff, i have an eating disorder for 34 years, no one knows about it/ i live in a tiny house with a leaky roof ,i have had 6 children/ i work hard and volunteer too,,i have cared for 2 sick relatives full time. i have a life. also just because i don't say challenging stuff to ruby doesn't mean im insincere or pathetic, its how i feel. not everyone is the same. no offence to you ruby but its getting me down . jo x


Thank you for leaving some love x