Surfacing After Silence

Life. After.

status updates

This post is sponsored by my Questions Page, the question being:

“What do you think of people psting triggering status updates on facebook? I know youve adressed pictures, but when people post status updates, often they claim it is for support and not to trigger others. Where do you think the line should be drawn between looking for supprt and triggering others?  Youve talked about how NOT to use facebook, how do you suggest someone with an ed SHOULD use Facebook for support? What do you suggest people do when their freinds are being triggering on Facebook? After all, its not exactly easy to say, sorry girl, youre my good friend, but we can’t be facebookf friends…”


Status updates.  I believe I know the type referred to in this question:

  • I’m having such a shitty day with my meal plan but I’m sick of people getting on my case.
  • I can’t believe my doctor wants me to eat all this!
  • I can’t believe my doctor wants me to go IP.  He’s full of shit.
  • Really struggling today and would prefer to be left alone.
  • Really worried about my doctor’s appointment today.  He’s not going to be happy.

This last one always makes my day.  I want to ask, “Why the hell are you telling us this?”  Do you want us to say, “Oh, I’m sorry.  Hope it goes well.”  or “I’m sorry, hon, it will all be okay.”  or “I’m really worried about you.”

Every single one of these status updates asks for a response from people, which is typical of any status update, but these are a bit more manipulative in nature.  Posting as your public update that you want to be left alone is contradictory and is only asking for a bunch of “what’s wrong, sweetie?” responses that will feed right into whatever moodstate made you write the status to begin with.

Then there are the more obvious triggering updates:

  • The doctors put me on bedrest again.  It’s so annoying.
  • My heart’s beating funny.  Maybe I should have had my ensure earlier today.
  • I know my doctor will be mad at my weight tomorrow, but I just don’t have it in me to eat today.
  • I don’t give a fuck anymore. Fuck everyone.  I’m off to be with PW.

Yes, I’ve seen that last status before.  I’ve seen all of these status updates before.  The last one is particularly upsetting as PW stands for Polly Williams, one of the four main individuals featured in that awful documentary Thin. Polly was also my real life friend long before Thin was even in the making.  And it’s a slap across my face for someone to post this update.  Why not tell people you’re going to swallow five bottles of pills and a bottle of vodka while you’re at it?

Status updates like this put people in a helpless position.  And they trigger those individuals who are still struggling.  “I’m not sick if I’m not in treatment.”  “I’m not sick if I’m  not on bed rest.”  (seriously, why post that? Are you proud of it?)

Most of all, how is someone who is trying really hard to recover supposed to feel when reading all these status updates from people who don’t really want help and are broadcasting it to facebook?

My advice, and this is tough to hear, and it was tough to take when I was at that stage: do a facebook cleaning.  Take those friends off your list.  You do not owe them anything.  If they don’t respect other people enough to care about how their words affect you, then unfriend them.  You primary responsibility is to yourself right now.  When you are stronger, healthier, you can go back and maybe help those other individuals.  But right now, focus on YOU and getting YOU better.

I know some people know each other in real time and not just through facebook.  If that’s the case, bring up his or her status updates through a private message and say how it is affecting you and that you need to focus on your recovery right now.  If he or she cannot respect this by changing their status updates, then say, “I’m sorry.  I’m not in a place to read them right now.”  Block them from showing up on your newsfeed and don’t go to their personal pages.  Or unfriend them.

Sounds harsh?  They will say so.  But how are you supposed to recover if you keep yourself planted in the same unhealthy environment?  Plant roots somewhere else.  Find people who will support your efforts toward recovery and who will not trigger you on a consistent basis.  It’s not being selfish.  It’s taking care of yourself and respecting yourself.

You come first in your recovery.  Always remember this.  You come first.





November 25, 2009 - Posted by | Communication, Eating Disorders, recovery | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


  1. Wow. I’ve been reading your blog constantly but this post really hit home with me. This past summer, I was struggling really hard with my eating disorder. One of my close friends who’d been in recovery for awhile was struggling as well- and posting facebook stuff that left me feeling helpless and terrified for her. I have NEVER used fb to broadcast my ed fight, and had no idea how to help her.
    At the time, she was losing weight by starvation (she had always struggled with binging previously), and instead of being super concerned, I was happy she was finally reaching a body weight she could feel comfortable with (not underweight, she was losing to a regualr weight)I knew this was the wrong mindset and that I need to supprt her being HEALTHY, not being happy she could finally lose weight. I discussed what to do with a few ppl.
    Knowing I would only feed into her ed, and couldnt be properly supportive, I unfriended her on facebook with a fb message that explained why, telling her that at the moment, I felt it was better for both of us to take care of ourselves etc.
    We are no longer friends in large part due to this. I have no idea how shes doing, but i hope she is healthy and whole again. I sometimes wonder if i made the right move, but your post reflects what my thoughts were exactly. Thanks for the post!

    Comment by Y L | November 25, 2009 | Reply

    • Y-I think what you did was admirable. It wasn’t a healthy relationship for you to be in. I think sometimes, too, people think they are responsible for the other person if they “unfriend” them, but we have to remember, eating disorder or no, we are all responsible for our own actions and reactions.
      Congrats on doing something for your own well-being.

      Comment by surfacingaftersilence | November 25, 2009 | Reply

  2. Wow, I cannot believe some of those status updates! I have been considering a Facebook cleansing, and I have done many before, but in times of my own struggles, I have caused to be corrupted again. It really isn’t an attack against another person. It isn’t healthy if one has friends posting status updates as such. It is asking for attention when having a status saying, “I want to be left alone.” I wonder if the people who post this realize what they’re doing or if it is unintentional, thinking no one will read them. I would have been quite offended if I saw the PW one. Polly lived in my hometown, and we crossed paths in and out of offices and whatnot. I did not speak to her much besides a “hello,” and sympathetic smiles in waiting rooms, but It is upsetting that people are using her death in that manner. It’s completely disrespectful. I think it’s okay to struggle, and it’s okay to let others know you’re struggling, but I think maybe Facebookers can be more conscious of how they speak of them. Instead of triggering status updates, they could call their therapist, or a supportive, stable friend, and say how they feel and what another person can do to HELP. It seems a heap of “Sorry babe”‘s or “I’m here for you”‘s perpetuate the unhealthy behavior, knowingly or not. Sticky business

    Comment by gainingandgrowing | November 25, 2009 | Reply

    • One of my pet peeves regarding responses to status updates are “I’m thinking of you, hon” and “so sorry you’re going through this.” I hate when people say “hon” in my reply box unless they know me and are on that intimate of a level. Otherwise, it’s just a commonplace phrase that means nothing. And “I’m so sorry” type of answers make it seem as if the person who posted the original status update has no control over his or her situation.

      Comment by surfacingaftersilence | November 25, 2009 | Reply

  3. Good blog, I’ve had to delete treatment friends too, when I was in a bad place with my eating disorder and trying to recover, I couldn’t take the triggering posts/pictures, stuff like that, so I did a facebook cleaning, I still have a limited amount of people from treatment on facebook. I am not afraid to delete a person if they become harmful to my recovery. Staying well is the most important thing in my life. It’s essential to living a life.

    Comment by cheryl | November 25, 2009 | Reply

  4. I’m on Twitter, and when someone “follows” me, I usually follow them back–otherwise, what’s the point? But, recently, someone requested to “follow” me, (my tweets are protected) and I accepted, but, after looking at her recent tweets, decided not to follow her, as what she was tweeting seemed to be very actively engaged with eating disordered behaviors– “only ate ____ cals today. too much” type of thing. This post really reassures me that I made the right choice. Thanks.

    Comment by Tiger | November 25, 2009 | Reply

  5. Wow I was so excited and relieved to see this post! Although I’m a year into recovery I still find status updates such as the ones you mentioned bothersome. I think what annoys me is the obvious attention-seeking behavior. Anyone that knew me before this past year knows that I have had some serious struggles with attention-seeking behavior and acting out to manipulate others. When I finally did DBT, I was instructed on new ways to manage my life and my needs without acting out. Now when I want attention, I ask for it or tell someone directly how I’m feeling and that is much more effective as well.

    I guess what I’m trying to say is that I think it frustrates me because I used to be like that and because I know there is another way to get those needs met. I find it hard to restrain myself from sending the person a message telling them if they want attention there are other ways to get it, but I usually just decide not to get involved. Anyway, awesome post, thank you so much for verbalizing so eloquently the status update issue.

    Comment by Amanda G-M | November 25, 2009 | Reply

  6. Your post really made me think! I have posted pro-recovery type status–but, someone would have to REALLY know me to know what it was referencing–like, I recently posted about enjoying ice cream. Of course, my non-knowing friends, were like “ice cream is great for germs” (I am getting over bronchitis and pneumonia), the handful of friends that I know about ED, responded with generic, but supportive things like “enjoy it–you deserve it.” I purposely do not post overly negative things b/c I often wonder who reads it. Friends that I know from treatment or that I know have eating disorders, vary. I think I worry more than I become triggered. One updates hourly and it does make me worry with some of the things she posts….

    PS I took your survey 🙂 As a PhD student….I appreciate research and the process of attempting to get participants!

    Comment by imaginenamaste | November 27, 2009 | Reply

  7. Oh I TOTALLY agree- TOTALLY
    I am so sorry but who really wants to hear some ones running commentary on their appts with their doctors, whats wrong with them today- and everyday- why the doctor wants them in the hospital or things they are doing poorly or WHATEVRER? Sure we allll have bad days and need some love and support- we ALLL do- how about just saying ” friends, Im feeling low and could use some positive energy” This is so much more benefical than a daily running depressing status update looking for attention ect and bringing the rest of us down. Lets send POSITIVE energy out please- and ask for some of that energy sent to you on your low days. I think we will all send it out to you. But I agree- the daily poor me poor me my dr says this or that is really not helpful to anyone. I HOPE THIS DOES NOT SOUND TOO HARSH-but I mean come on we all struggle thats why we are here on this board but really………..I think a facebook cleanse sometimes would be good- keep the faith keep it positive and healthy- this is the best way to stay in recovery! The most wonderful thing about life is that each day we are given the oppurtunuty to start all over again:) Choice to do with the renewal what you will- either stay focused or positive or………..

    Comment by lisa | November 29, 2009 | Reply

  8. I agree it is personal choice to de-friend people but for me, most days in recovery, those status updates are good reminders of where I am glad I am not, where I may have been at one time and just how (#*$ed up the illness can make people (including myself). Just for an alternative view.

    Comment by kkessa | November 29, 2009 | Reply

  9. I have just started a blog 5 days ago. I came across yours and this was the first post I read. I am really glad I have found this in the early stages of my blog, I know it will be a helpful guide! thanks a lot

    Comment by justfortoday | January 12, 2010 | Reply

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