This topic has been on my mind over the past couple of months, as I’ve witnessed some pretty bad treatment toward people that are still on their journey to health. It’s based on my own experience and thoughts, and so of course may not hold true for everyone.
I’ve learned a lot during this hopefully final recovery, and one of those things has been how misguided I was before. Many have pointed this out to me, but I assure you I am aware.
I was trying to be a role model when I wasn’t even taking care of myself. From what I can see, and from what I hear from many others, there are lots of bloggers like this. People are portraying a lifestyle that really isn’t the best idea for many people.
The thing is, I wasn’t doing it on purpose. I thought I was doing the right thing. I thought I was taking care of myself, or doing my best to. I was trying to be healthy, eat well, and exercise. Whenever things got a little “off track”, I just did my best to get back to where I was before.
Most of the fitness magazines and health studies probably would have applauded my behaviors, but with my history they were inappropriate and damaging.I was being brainwashed not only by the media, but also by my eating disorder. It left me so focused on body image and perfection that I couldn’t see the harm I was doing to both myself and others.
My point in this is that all those other bloggers or friends that you think are destroying themselves, setting bad examples, or just trying to “stay skinny”, aren’t trying to stay sick. Maybe (and I say maybe because I don’t know each person individually, obviously), but maybe they ARE sick. Maybe they’re disorder is affecting the way they think and act. Maybe they’re brainwashed, like I was, to think they need to do certain things. Maybe they, like I did, think they are doing the right thing.
Maybe they just need to live through it a little, experience the affects of their choices, and will eventually see the light and choose to get better. I know I did.
There are many different stages of recovery, and it takes lots of time and fight. No one deserves to be torn down or judged for where they are at the moment. Even if they are publicly saying things that could be bad, they aren’t doing it ON PURPOSE. I have the perhaps naive hope that no one is trying to cause harm.
So if you want to help people, truly help them, give them gentle advice and send prayers. Send love. Show compassion.
Pointing fingers, being rude, and shaming someone is no way to inspire positive changes. I know it’s tempting to yell and scream (and leave mean comments), hoping they’ll finally hear you and stop the damage, but that’s not one’s brain works when it’s affected by an eating disorder. That will only drive the person away.
What they need is support and understanding coupled with encouragement and a good example.
Be that for them.