Surfacing After Silence

Life. After.

the insanity of the eating disorder “community”


"insanity" by anna-earwen (deviantart.com)

I was going to write this post this morning, but thought to myself that I should calm down first, that I shouldn’t let emotions rule an entry.  And then as the day progressed, this post became fated for today.

We like to say there’s an eating disorder “community” on Facebook.  That we’re all fighting the same illnesses, fighting the same demons, fighting the same fight.  While we may all be fighting illnesses, we are certainly not a community.  We are a group of cliques, some divided based on treatment histories, some set apart because of one person’s not-so-great interactions with someone else and people jump to polarizing sides, some cliques based on geographic location, some on whether or not you are recovered, some are based on whether or not you are “real” (I have yet to understand this one).  Pick an issue, and there is a clique that will defend one side and a clique that will defend the other side.

Some people move from clique to clique.  Some people belong to more than one.  Some people are stuck outside of the cliques, miraculously.  But a community?  No.  We can’t claim that.

I was good friends with someone I met in treatment.  This individual was the first person who talked to me on the day of my admission; she sat with me through my first meal and my supplements and sat with me afterwards and talked to me about piano, dancing, volleyball, languages, and music and even though I was crying, she had me laughing.  We kept in touch after we left that treatment facility.  Sadly, she passed away three years ago, from her eating disorder, and there’s a Facebook group in remembrance of her.  Which I was a part of as of the anniversary of her death, when I left a message on the group’s wall.  I went to go look at the group today only to find out that I have been removed from the group.  The moderator has made it very clear that she does not agree with me on certain issues, one being my own recovery, and now I am no longer part of the community that knew this beautiful individual and strives to keep her alive in our hearts.  Somehow, my friendship with this individual isn’t even a reason for me to be a part of the group or not.  It’s the fact that the moderator and I don’t see eye-to-eye.  Admittedly, this actually made me cry this morning, because I had long ago unfriended the individual who passed away because of Facebook’s frequent suggestions to reconnect with her.  Seeing her profile constantly popping up and knowing I couldn’t reconnect with her no matter how hard I tried was too much for me.  But the community of other friends was helpful for me.  And I am no longer allowed in that community.

I am friends with people who have hurt other friends.  I get conflicting messages from all sides.  I get messages with people calling me various names.  I am recovered, and say this, so if I have a bad day that has nothing to do with eating disordered thoughts let alone behaviors, some people call me a liar or a hypocrite.  I sought more intensive treatment this past winter to avoid a full-blown relapse and when I got home was told I was in denial, that I was never recovered, that I’m still not recovered, that I’ve been lying, that I profess to support recovery but don’t live a life of recovery.  My comments on other people’s pages are held up to criticism if I happen to slip and *gasp* be human and say something that’s not 100% All American Nice Girl.  I am not allowed to make mistakes because I get called names, but then I also get called names because I claim to not make mistakes.  (This last one confuses me, because I have openly admitted to mistakes and follies here on this very blog.)

So let me clear something up about me:  I am human.  I am recovered.  I began slipping in January and had two weeks where I started using some eating disorder behaviors, but the main issue was that my head was nowhere near able to pull things together and I was scared shitless of relapsing because I know my heart could not handle it.  My therapist thought I could turn things around outpatient.  Maybe I could have.  But I wasn’t willing to risk that chance of getting worse before getting better.  So I took the advice I give other people and sought more intensive help. I left Rader on strong, solid footing and since, have not returned to any behaviors and had minimal desire to in the beginning and no longer have any desire to.  I am damn proud of myself for stopping a relapse before it happened.  So I’m sorry if that didn’t fit the Perfect Recovery Girl image you had of me.  But get this: I don’t know a single solitary “Perfect Recovery Girl” and I know a lot of individuals in recovery or who are fully recovered.  I make mistakes.  I say things I shouldn’t sometimes.  I don’t know everything.  I don’t profess to.  I make it clear that what I write here is my opinion. You are allowed to disagree with me, and I usually reply and take your comments very seriously and spend time thinking about them and have been known to change my opinion in this process.

If you disagree with me, fine.  I’m not expecting everyone to agree with me.  I realize I have strong opinions.  And I have strong feelings about what is right for me. I cannot tell you what your best course of action should be.  I can only offer you isights from my journey.  And I’ve repeatedly said that just because something has worked for me does not mean it will or should work for everyone.

I don’t know what to do about all the in-fighting on Facebook.  I want to stay as neutral as possible.  I try to watch what I say.  And when I slip up and am less than perfect, lots of people let me know.  I am in a position where I can be friends with people in all stages of recovery or illness and not have it affect my own recovery.  But I am conscious of the onlookers and know that not everyone is in such a place.

I’ll be honest.  I’m at a lost for what to do.  What to say.  Do I combine my profiles again and just let the drama unfold?  Do I try to protect my own private life while maintaining a decidedly public one of advocacy?  I refuse to choose sides.  Yet my refusal to choose sides has hurt people’s feelings.  And at the same time, if I did more actively choose sides, it would hurt more people.  I try to be honest in my replies to people.  People ask me to be honest.  Then I am honest and get slammed for it.  I sometimes feel I am in a no-win situation.  And I could easily remedy that by walking away from everything.  But I care too much.

So forgive me if I am frustrated at times.  Please acknowledge that no one is perfect.  Please accept that I will try to be there for as many people as possible, regardless of alliances or arguments.

I wonder what would happen if groups commemorating someone’s life were places where people could gather regardless of what clique they belong too and join in the one thing we all have in common: we lost someone we loved.  Can personal feelings be left out of the picture? Can we put aside our differences in the face of the one thing that will conquer us all in the end?  Or do we get to decide who is worthy or mourning and who isn’t?

What would happen if we had a place where it didn’t matter if you were recovered, recovering, thinking about recovery, not ready to take that step, or not wanting to take that step?  Is such a place possible?  Can one person respect another’s desire for recovery even if they aren’t recovered themselves?  Can we have a forum where someone who is pro-ana consciously makes the choice not to leave a pro-ana icon or message on a recovery forum and where someone in recovery refrains from going to a pro-ana group and berating those members?  Can there be a place where we accept each other for where we are, in this moment?

I WANT EVERYONE TO PLEASE TAKE NOTE OF THIS:

I had emailed the moderator of the group yesterday and we have messaged each other back and forth today, and through talking about it, have resolved not only the situation about the group, but our friendship as well.  I am so very thankful for this and please ask all of you that knew what was going on to respect all of the parties involved and just be thankful that in this situation, honest communication worked for the best!

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July 21, 2010 - Posted by | Communication, Eating Disorders, relationships | , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

15 Comments »

  1. i am HORRIFIED PISSED DISGUSTED with that. i assume you’re talking about amy? how do you get KICKED OUT of a group that is for remembering someone in your life. does the head of the group think that (amy?) would appreciate that??? how ironic is that. i personally don’t look at any of my friends like parts of groups or communities i belong to. i am friends with individuals. i choose to be friends with each one because of who they are. not because of what stage they’re at or whatever. obviously, if someone is negatively effecting me, i probably wouldn’t continue that relationship but that’s self care. i don’t understand “communities.” i am part of a few ed groups but im not a particularly active person in the groups.
    i’m just sickened by what you just experienced.
    i’m also sickened by people’s retarded reactions to your recovery. if a person finds it necessary to belittle you, vent in a journal, don’t treat someone like shit. dont continueously question the motive behind a person’s every action. FUCK OFF. it makes me so angry at all the drama surrounding you. it’s bullcrap. i don’t view you as an ed or as someone that’s recovered or not recovered or any of that bullshit. i see YOU lexie. a super intelligent, genuine, caring, compassionate, fun, quirky(in an awesome way)girl who loves build-a-bear and knitting and reading and coffee and ballet…..as someone who learns how to take from her past what she could to be a stronger person, someone who is a fighter. u get sad, angry, frustrated…and excited, happy, silly….like every other human being.

    Comment by shira | July 21, 2010 | Reply

    • you are correct in what group it was. it seriously caused me to cry this morning.

      Comment by surfacingaftersilence | July 21, 2010 | Reply

  2. I am not part of any group.
    I am not defined by the eating disordered, recovered or not. I am me.
    You are you.
    We are not eating disorders no matter what side we are on.

    Comment by wednesday v | July 21, 2010 | Reply

    • I have only ever seen you as you. It’s one of the things that drew me to you. Was that I could see YOU and not the ED and you saw ME and not he ED. as you know that doesn’t always happen in treatment. I’m thankful it did with you.

      Comment by surfacingaftersilence | July 21, 2010 | Reply

  3. the insanity of the eating disorder ?community? « Surfacing After ……

    I found your entry interesting do I’ve added a Trackback to it on my weblog :)…

    Trackback by Mental Disorders 101 | July 21, 2010 | Reply

  4. i am so over basically everyone and all of this. thank you for absolutely nothing. i appreciate it greatly. thank you for showing me that you are not worth a minute of my time or an ounce of my energy. i will not be brought down. you will not win. alexis – i could not have said it any better.

    Comment by ... | July 21, 2010 | Reply

  5. Umm, I’m not sure if the above comment by ” … ” is in jest or what, but I found it very rude and catty and well, childish. How in the world is Lexie trying to “win?”

    Lexie, if this is in any way what you described as infighting with different ed groups, then I can see your frustration. I don’t belong to any ed groups so I’m completely at a loss as to what’s going on. However, what you’ve described would have made me cry too. I’m sorry this happened to you.
    I wish I had time to write more…<3

    Comment by me | July 22, 2010 | Reply

  6. Noooooooo that was not meant in jest at all! only the last comment was meant for Lexie… the others were directed to the catty bullshitters who know who they are. the miserable people who i do not wish to associate with. there is no such thing as a “community” – HA! i am going to recover and refuse to get sucked into your disgusting vortex of hatred and negativity. im not giving up. facebook is not a place you can get support. its a horrible horrible gossip ring. :::shudder and gag:::

    Comment by ,,, | July 22, 2010 | Reply

    • I will not get caught up in any drama so you should know beforehand that this will be my only reply to you. Further, you should know the only reason I’m responding at all is b/c I had really hoped you were kidding with your first comment.
      Speaking only for myself, (Lexie can speak for herself if she so chooses)I haven’t seen any evidence of Lexie spreading hate or negativity. I hope you do recover as you say you will and not give up or give. And if you don’t find any help from facebook, fine. But others DO find help and that’s fine too. I’m not sure why you feel such a need to be judge and jury for the rest of us, but if you feel so strongly, and at the bullsh*tters, why, oh why, are you commenting on this blog? It seems to me you are the one sharing the hate.
      I recovered a few years ago after years of suffering from anorexia. It was hard and Lexie helped me, more than once, by sharing her thoughts through this blog and other messages. I’m sorry you haven’t had the same experince but my hope for you is that you find some peace and keep good friends around you as you srtive for recovey.

      Comment by me | July 22, 2010 | Reply

      • I’m still a bit confused on the “jest” of the original message and what was intended for whom.

        I will say this about Facebook: there are definitely negative aspects and negative groups. But they are easy to avoid. there ARE plenty of positive, supportive groups where people are encouraging and helpful. I know facebook has been a huge source of support for MANY people–in a positive way. So I do NOT want to discourage people from seeking support there. i am just voicing frustration at the lack of cohesion.

        Comment by surfacingaftersilence | July 22, 2010

    • I am a bit confused as well (but not trying to add to drama, but rather to decrease it) – I think (and hope) the original poster is trying to say that he/she thinks that Lexie could not have worded this post any better, and the rest of the comment isn’t referring to Lexie at all, but directed towards the very people who are attacking her – i.e. the “you” refers to those people, not Lexie.

      That’s what I’m guessing the poster meant to say – maybe it just didn’t come out the right way in writing but would have made more sense verbally. Who knows…

      Comment by anon | July 22, 2010 | Reply

      • yes yes and yes. i have recently been burned by someone putting their nose where it doesn’t belong (not Lexie!) and feel like i cant talk about how i struggle online in any way – because somehow/someway it always gets spread around. like a wild fire. people u have never even met know you, your story, and you are doing. i try i try to reach out and get support – connection… but it ends tragically every single solitary time. you think you can trust people so you open up… but time and time again i just wish i would have kept my mouth shut. and i bet u even with this post – someone will figure out who i am and analyze it and spread lies… u know?

        Comment by ... | July 22, 2010

  7. I’m really sorry you have experienced such hurt, it is really unfair to you and to the friend who has passed away to lose that connection.

    As far as what you should do, I think you figure out what is best for you and do that. You can’t please everyone, and at the end of the day, you have to live with you. People will have their drama…some people live for it. Do what is best for you, your health, your sanity, etc.

    I appreciate what you share…even if I didn’t agree at some point, it just gives me the chance to consider things from another point of view.

    And CONGRATS for all your hard work in recovery. You did what you needed to, & that’s what counts.

    Comment by CM | July 22, 2010 | Reply

  8. I read this post fast so I hope I got the point, but you shouldn’t feel the need to apologize for every time you “slip up” or say something that’s not perfect. You’re human. People can be pretty nasty online because they don’t have to say the things face to face. I once commented on a friends’ status and let her know that SHE was screwing her recovery, not her team (who she blamed). She deleted me as a friend so I guess she didn’t like what I had to say. I did feel a little bad and I could’ve apologized, but I meant what I said. As much as we’d like to, it’s way too difficult and time consuming to try to please everyone.

    Comment by Jen | July 22, 2010 | Reply

  9. I’m so glad to see the addition to this entry. The DID community seems (seemed) to have the same type of issues. It’s the same all around in recovery.
    Being able to communicate with people in an honest way and work things out is awesome.

    Comment by marisa | July 23, 2010 | Reply


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