I found the (mostly online) community of ED recoverers early in my recovery. I was so thankful when I stumbled upon it because I finally felt like there were other people who truly understood where I was at and how I was thinking and acting. These people were genuine, caring, supportive and encouraging. They didn’t judge my crazy thoughts and they had created an environment where I could be completely open and honest. I don’t know where I’d be today without the many friends I have made through this community.
However, while I’ve reaped the full rewards and benefits of the ED Community, I’ve also seen its darker side. As with most things in life, the ED Community is not perfect, and there are some not-so-nice aspects of it that I view as being truly unhelpful for anyone actively trying to recover.
I’m competitive by nature, and I know a lot of you reading this will be too. This isn’t a bad thing in itself – in fact, it can be quite a good thing, as long as it’s channelled appropriately! However, I’ve found that our competitiveness can sometimes find its way into our recovery and when it does it can easily spread throughout our support community. It can take many forms, most obviously in photos of clearly insufficient portions of food or rib-revealing selfies. And while I would never suggest you should assume every photo of this kind is competitive in nature, I do think we should ask ourselves how helpful posting them will be to others in recovery.
Driven by our urge to do things well, we can unintentionally foster a culture that implicitly celebrates remaining in recovery (and even relapsing), rather than encouraging each other to achieve full recovery. We know that once we reach recovery we might not have the option of posting a skeletal selfie, and our plates may no longer look as “thinspirational” as they do now, and that scares us. So, despite the fact we know it’s wrong, we find ourselves using Instagram, blogs and Facebook to make sure everyone knows we absolutely HAVE NOT lost control and we are still good/worthy!
Remember, if you have an eating disorder, competition could very well be in your nature. But when it comes to recovery, it’s a one woman (or man) race. We don’t need to compete against each other to be the thinnest, fullest, most exhausted or even most recovered. There’s already plenty out there trying to tell us we’re not good enough. The ED Community is our community. And the reason it’s so amazing is because we’re all a part of it.
So next time we’re about to hit post, let’s all pause and ask ourselves the question: “Will this help, or hinder, someone’s chances of recovery?”
A couple of huge caveats to all of this:
- I’m just as guilty as everyone else when it comes to this sort of stuff. I’m drawn to competing and comparing too, which is why I’m so passionate about catching ourselves when we start walking down that road.
- I absolutely adore the ED Community. This post is not intended to offend or point the finger at anyone. It’s my hope and prayer though that it might make us all work even harder to ensure our community is one that’s absolutely free of guilt, shame and comparison.