There Are No Words …
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Sometimes I really do think I live in a bubble.

Though I don’t fit the description, I didn’t know what ED-NOS is (eating disorder, not otherwise specified) until this past weekend.

And I had never heard of “pro-ana” or “pro-mia” sites until I met MamaV at Panera on Sunday at the Chicago blogger meet-and-greet.

But a quick Wikipedia search led me to a wealth of knowledge about this incredibly disturbing and sad trend among young women.

MamaV is on a mission “to educate parents, friends, and family on the rampant nature of the Pro-Anorexia community online.” She wrote this guest post last summer, called “Anorexia and and Internet Suicide.”

Please, just read it and let me know what you think.

I am not going to say anything more; MamaV’s post needs no words. (You can also check out her videos on YouTube — she’s doing great things out there!).

So between that post and the journal of Kristi (the pro-ana woman who took her life) that’s linked on the guest blog, I was near-tears here.

I was deeply saddened for two reasons.

One, things have never been that bad for me that I’d ever even contemplate suicide. Of course I understand there are multitude of emotional, physical and psychological reasons that could drive someone down that path … but it’s just inconceivable to me.

And two, there are millions of women out who, for many reasons (perhaps unknown to even them) starve themselves down to nothing; “killing themselves” even though they are alive, a shell of themselves. Some live a life of binging and purging. Some are painfully thin, others hide it well and even others — on the outset — might even look healthy, but their insides are a mess.

This is how they stay “in control.”

That makes me so very sad.

I love food, and even though sometimes I still treat it like an enemy and journal what I eat, I simply can’t fathom what it would be like to deprive myself of the wonderful pleasures of food, of dining out, of savoring life. Likewise, I can’t imagine eating only to throw it up; it’s just not part of my DNA to think that way.

Reading some of Kristi’s entries and the subsequent comments literally just broke my heart, to know that people really have these thoughts and feel that alone, with nowhere to turn.

I realized just how lucky I am. I have an amazing support system around me in my husband, family, and friends.

And though I might battle anxiety issues forever, I really feel like I caught on to my problem in the knick of time before it exploded … that I’ve been making a lot of progress between therapy and blogotherapy.

I’m not being naïve about this; I don’t claim to be cured, or perfect, and that’s not what I’m striving for here. (In fact, I’m erasing “perfection” from my vocabulary).

But I do want to be the best version of myself, and that is someone who loves her body, respects her body, and treats herself with the same love and care she offers to others.

That said, I often get personal e-mails from young men and women who are in need of help, and I’m the first to admit in our correspondances that I’m not qualified to give counsel. I feel bad saying so, but it’s the truth. I’d be lying if I said otherwise; it’d be the blind leading the blind.

I’m not “finished” yet … and might never truly be “done.” So I usually suggest them talking to someone they trust and seeking professional help.

Which raises the point that I think my blog would serve my readers better if there was a place for you to go, a resource well where you could find information about managing disordered eating issues and eating disorders, and hopefully, someday, overcoming them.

So starting today, there will be a new HELP tab on my home page, and I hope that anyone who needs it will find it useful. I also hope anyone questioning themselves will seek a trusted confidante and the help of a professional who is trained to deal with such challenges.

You’re worth it!

Thank you all for reading and inspiring me every day with your comments and input. I have hope and faith that together, we can create a positive environment for healing and progress.

The world has too many conflicted women like Kristi who think they aren’t worthy of staying alive. We can make a difference.

To quote the United Way’s LIVE UNITED campaign theme: “When we reach out a hand to one, we influence the condition of all.”

How about you? What thoughts went through your mind reading MamaV’s blog or Kristi’s journal?

25 thoughts on “There Are No Words …

  1. The emotions in my body are running wild! MY blood is boiling. I can honestly feel it!!

    This makes me so sad, too, and I support MamaV’s message. I will admit that I visited a pro-ana site when I was sick, just to look at it, and about 80% of the posts were of girls putting themselves down for not eating enough. All of their profile pictures were either pictures of themselves looking too thin for words, or of a celebrity known for her eating disorder (Mary Kate Olsen, Keira Knightley, Lindsay Lohan, NIcole Richie) It makes me sick, too.

    I never posted any contributes to that pro-ana website, I was afraid of revealing my identity. I just read. for about a week. But I stopped myself. It felt so WRONG looking at tips for starving myself. Even though that is exactly what I was doing, I didn’t WANT to think I was that sick. It hurts to know there are girls who are still posting up sites like that, But I refuse to visit one. I can educate, support and encourage to stop living their life in a binge-purge detrimental cycle, but I cannot filter their internet activity.

    “….even though they are alive, a shell of themselves. Some live a life of binging and purging. Some are painfully thin, others hide it well and even others — on the outset — might even look healthy, but their insides are a mess.”

    This quote may be short but it sums up the life of a women in the depths of an eating disorder. A shell, a mere shell. Their ousia is absent. Where is their sparkling personality?! That is what the eating disorder takes away. Grrrrrrr. I just want to SCREAM!

  2. *Correction: Girls putting themselves down for not eating LITTLE enough, they put themselves down for eating too much spinach, raw veggies, egg whites!!!!

  3. Hi Melissa. This is my first time commenting, but I’ve been reading your blog for a while now. First of all, I just wanted to thank you for writing this blog and being so honest. I have had disordered eating for a couple years now, and am just now coming to terms with it. I’m not sure if I actually have an ‘eating disorder’ because I haven’t been diagnosed, but I’m going to see a doctor soon about it.

    Concerning this post… I think it’s so sad that these girls have no one to reach out too. I’ve been at the point too, but it’s so sick to have these pro-ana sites out there that are essentially killing people. They are encouraging each other to slowly kill yourself… that’s the reality of it. When I was young and naive, I have to admit that I was a part of one of those pro-ana sites. I’m ashamed to admit it, and I hope and pray that I didn’t affect anyone negatively. I realized soon after what I was doing, not only to myself, but to the people reading my site. That’s all I have to say about that right now, but thank you once again for writing about this topic.

  4. Oh Lee, I know … it was heart-breaking. I didn’t even know these sites existed — I felt truly naive. MamaV’s mission to educate parents that this stuff is out there is such a powerful one. Good for you refusing to visit those sites!!

    I seriously was up a long time last night thinking about it, and watching the trailer of THIN, the HBO documentary — I have it coming as my next Netflix, when we send back Sicko.

    Hi Angela, and thanks for reading. Thank you — I felt I needed to be as transparent as possible about these topics. It’s gut-wrenching. I am glad to hear you are doing this, planning on seeing a doctor. You don’t need to be formally diagnosed to know you have a problem; my therapist actually told me she doesn’t think I truly have an eating disorder — but rather that I use disordered eating habits as coping mechanisms for anxiety. Either way, I’m working on it!

    It seriously broke my heart. Good for you getting out of that network — and best wishes to you.

  5. A year or two ago, after my bout with anorexia and when I began bulimia, I went to a pro-mia site. I got support there and found ways to be a “healthier” bulimic. What I was looking for was advise on how to throw up because I have no gag reflex.

    I have never considered suicide, but I have cycled through mild eating disorders, cutting and burning. I am one of those individuals, as you say, who looks healthy but who’s inside is a mess.

    And it saddens me in hindsight that support groups band together to encourage this behavior… isn’t it bad enough the way the media encourages eating disorders? I just wish somehow we could wake up to the harm this is causing, and that’s me included. I am still waking up to it.

  6. To be honest, i dont even know how i could spent 5 years of my life not eating and trying to avoid every kind of meal…
    It was my way of dealing with the stress, the anxiety, the depression… i had nothing else and i couldnt see anything else. MamaV is right to inform people about ED, because if u never had one, u can’t understand how life is with deep anorexia or bulimia.

    And to be even more honest… i miss those years. I really miss the sadness, the strong willpower i had, my small bubble of calories and fighting against the hunger, my own world… Of course i’m better now, i’m more like a “normal” young woman, but i still have a huge hole inside me. And now, i don’t want to deal with this with ED… but it would be so simple. I wanna stay strong, but once u have ED one time in your life, it will ALWAYS be there. I dont believe people can heal from this mental disorder, its too strong and too related to who u are.

    Im really against pro-ana or pro-mia, because i feel like they’re sort of “fake” ED. When u are truly ill, of course u want to get new tips or u wanna share your fights with others like you, but it doesnt help at all. In fact, it makes u wanna stay the way u are, make u think that u are “normal”.

    Its really disturbing… U dont even know what u want, who u are, why ur feeling so sad and so little. Most people wouldnt believe i have ED for years, because on the outside, i look like a perfect normal girl, but once they know me better, they learn how deep and how sick i am, because sometimes, i really feel like im crazy… 😦

    sorry for writing this long today, im really not feeling well…

  7. Hi Sheena, I checked out one of those sites today out of curioisty and had to click out of it, it was too disturbing for me. I honestly can’t relate to these women; my issues about being OCD around food are so not the same as a psychological disorder and it’s just unbearable to read them. I am so glad to hear you’re off of them now. It saddens me, too, that these groups exist — but removing them from the Web solves nothing, either …. it’s just scary how glamorized they are.

    I know I don’t “know” you, but I am proud of you for waking up to it — admitting you have a problem and taking the steps to get help. That’s why I posted those HELP links … b/c so many women don’t see it as a problem, and sometimes just talking helps. I have therapy tonight and am excited to go. I like learning … it’s part of the process.

    Hi Nikita, wow … I can’t imagine either … but you’re right, you did it. I’m sad to hear you miss those years. What was it about the control that was so enticing? Could you put that control-relfex to something else perhaps?

    I do think to some extent things never go away but I dunno … the more time that goes on, and maybe it’s b.c I am not clinically diagnosed and don’t exhibit true ED behaviors … but I do think I can get through this, as a time in my life vs. “my life.” I hope others can, too.

    You’re not crazy, Nikita .. you’re human. And we’re glad you’re here. 🙂

  8. I’ve heard way too much about the pro-ana and pro-mia sites out there, and they deeply sadden me. MamaV’s post just reminded me how much of a disease these eating disorders are… more than just dieting…real sicknesses.

  9. I just wanted to say a quick note about Bulimia as it’s something that I’ve just started to treat myself after a friend intervened. Bulimia consists of a binge-purge cycle. Binges are very different from going out and eating a regular meal, they are eating an abnormally large amount of food in a small amount of time and just from my personal experiences are always done in private. In fact, no one around me knew the extent to which I binged because I kept it quite secret. Purging is also much different that one would think as it was definitely for me. Purging is simply a way to compensate for the calories of the binge, so many purge by throwing up, or they restrict their intake otherwise or as in my case, rely on exercise to burn the calories working out for a certain amount of time to make up for the binging. I just wanted to write this because I too had the misconceptions that bulimia was all about throwing up and throwing up regular meals, but it’s not. I totally agree with you, I hope for everyone that is struggling with an eating disorder, either specified or otherwise reaches out and gets the help they need and if you know someone who is struggling with food, it is a difficult conversation, but it’s truly one of he best ones to have with them.

  10. Exactly, Mara … it’s a real sickness. Dieting can “Drive us mad” as you hear people say, but there’s a fine line … and it’s blurrier by the day.

    Leila — thank you for sharing your experience — So you’re saying with bulimia it’s not throwing up regular meals but rather binge-eating and then purging or restricting the next day? Interesting, I didn’t think of it that way. I’ve learned over-exercising is just as dangerous as anything … it’s scary stuff. I am glad a friend intervened for you; I can only hope others are just as fortunate. Often we’re afraid to speak out, afraid of pushing someone away … but it seems like tough love might be the best thing.

  11. thanks 🙂
    it made me cry a bit reading that im not…

    i think the most appealing thing in ED is the control. You feel so much that u have no control in your life, that at least, u have THIS. This ED belongs to you, its yours and you’re gonna do whatever you want and can to make it perfectly. You feel powerful when in real life, you feel like you’re worthless.

  12. Aw Nikita!

    Well, let’s think of something else you can “own” — is there something else you can think of?

  13. My own life, by stop thinking about everyone else… ? :/
    I don’t live for me, i live for the others, that’s my biggest problem.

  14. I love it, Nikita. Think maybe of one small way, today, you can own your own life. Maybe do something special just for you. Buy fresh flowers, go for a long walk, see a friend, try on some new make-up at Sephora, etc. You’re worth it!

  15. thanks lissa 🙂
    i wish there were more nice people like u and everyone here in my entourage 🙂

    anyway, today i have something with my dance group, so today, its MY day, i don’t care about what others want, i’m just gonna dance, let the music tell me what to do and forget everything else.

  16. Hip-hop and house mostly 🙂
    I used to do break dance too, but I’m getting too old lol
    No, I’m just afraid of breaking my neck, but I still do some classes sometimes to keep up.

    I did jazz a few years ago, but I’m not graceful at all 😛
    I love the rhythm of hip-hop, how to play with the bass and the lyrics, I really feel it, with my baggy pants and my big t-shirt ;P

  17. On my way to work this morning, following my binge from last night, I thought to myself, “Is disordered eating a lifestyle choice much like to many pro-Ana individuals, their starving themselves is a choice that they stand by whether we can understand that or not?” I battled anorexia for two straight years, and I’m not without the remnants of that disease, but I’m in a much healthier place now when it comes to my relationship with food, though I have slip ups like last night’s binge. Getting back to this blog, though, is this a lifestyle choice? Can it be? Can we somehow incorporate this unhealthy mentality in a way that our whole lives and bodies don’t deteriorate? I’m coming to think that maybe that’s possible because my life is in order more than it’s not, but what I do believe is that I won’t get closer to true, inner, pure happiness without doing away with these unhealthy thoughts on eating and food.

  18. Very interesting note, Stella — I don’t know the answer; since I think I AM capable of getting through this, and because it never became a “real” ED … but rather just some serious food issues I grapple with … I CAN get through it…whereas someone battling a “real” ED might not have that same ability or mindset. … or do they? I don’t know. I don’t think I CHOSE to have eating issues; essentially dieting caused my unhealthy relationship with food. But I didn’t cross the lines so much that I can’t go back. I DO believe I have control … just took me months to realize it.

  19. I kind of participated. Just “kind of” cause I didnt know there was anything like “operation beautiful”.

    A few weeks ago I wrote “You are beautiful” on a note, and wanted to leave it in a fellow patients room on my Inpatients ward. The girl who lived inside that room really IS beautiful. On morning during weight and vitals I sneaked into her room and searched for a place to leave the note. I decided to place it on her mirror in the bathroom, since she absolutely WOULD see it.

    I opened the bathroom door, and couldnt place my note on the mirror, cause I stumbled across her (forbidden!!!) scale. Instead on putting it on the mirror I lay the note on her scale, and sneaked out.
    Turned out, that ED-Monster lied to the Staff and drank tons of water before weigh ins. (But I still hope it made her think for a second.)

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