This is a guest blog from http://proud2bme.org. Rachael Haskell is 22 years old and lives in Los Angeles with a basset hound named Rosie Honeybun (AKA Rosie, Bun Bun, Bunny, The Bun, Hellbeast, and Beezlebub.) When she is not blogging, doing work for school or procrastinating Rachael enjoys dancing, reading, writing, hiking, trying (and usually failing miserably) to ride her bike, and drawing. She is currently in recovery and hopes sharing her experiences will bring hope and strength to others on the same journey to a healthier and happier life.
By Rachael Haskell
All you have is a dying flashlight’s weak and unsteady glow to illuminate the surrounding blackness. “Where am I?” you wonder. “How did I get here?” You feel scared, hopeless and worst of all, completely alone. Suddenly you hear footsteps approaching. You are thrilled and relieved when the flashlight’s beam reveals a fellow confused traveler. Although you are both still lost, it brings you incredible comfort to know that at least you are no longer on your own.
My experience of anorexia has often felt very much like being lost in a cave, and while I never frequented pro-anorexia (pro-ana) and pro-bulimia (pro-mia) sites I can see why they appeal to many who are struggling with eating disorders. I felt terribly isolated and alone in my disorder, believed that no one could ever possibly understand my experience. Worse, I feared that if I tried to explain it to them they might think I was crazy or a freak. On the other hand, I didn’t feel as ashamed or afraid of judgement when I was with my friends from treatment. They “got” what it was like to be terrified of a PB&J sandwich, to feel overwhelmed with anxiety and self hatred simply because you had eaten. I understand that pro-ana and pro-mia sites provide a sense of community and support for those who are dealing with eating disorders. But let’s go back to the cave for a second.
After discovering the fellow traveler you exclaim, “I’m so glad I found you!” What would you say next? “Let’s go deeper… OH! And you can smash my flashlight on a rock so we can’t see and will get even more hopelessly lost!” Sounds ridiculous, right? It is comforting to find friends who understand and support you but a true friend would wish to help you pursue health and happiness, not illness and death.
There are advantages to communicating with people who empathize with your struggles and experiences, but it is important to cultivate relationships with people who help you move towards recovery rather than an empty and miserable shell of a life… Because that is the ultimate destination at the end of the eating disorder tunnel.
Proud2Bme is an alternative to pro-ana and mia sites; it meets all the same needs a pro-ED site would but in a recovery and life oriented way. It can be your connection to other people who “get” what you are going through but also want to help you climb out of the cave and into sunlight.