Not allowed to speak up?

What got me thinking today were both a omment on a recent post – one of those comments that didn’t appear on the blog for a reason – I received and a lot of what I’ve seen in the blog world for months. The overall topic being: Am I in a position to offer advice and help? Entitled to do so? I’ll get my thinking cap on with Amanda again and hope you can make sense of the thoughts running through my mind.

Thinking-Out-Loud

It breaks my heart to read blogs by – most often – girls younger than me who very clearly show signs of the same disorder I’m battling. Highly voluminous vegetable-filled meals lacking fat or actual [grain or potato] carbs fueling intense hour-long workouts. And: nobody stepping in. People commenting like they didn’t see the signs. Or: maybe they don’t?

Who am I – still in recovery myself – to offer help to these girls? Shouldn’t I rather focus on myself only and keep silent? I’ve been mulling this in my mind over. And over. And over. Like I said: touchy. But back to the point of non-recovers potentially overlooking signs: it’s a possibility.  Once you’ve been there yourself your senses are sharpened for any kind of alerts that could potentially cover an ED in disguise. The piles of vegetables while claming to love carbs. Even a certain kind of appearance that people will claim is in their genes. It might be – or not.

However, I feel that at times it’s especially because we’re personally affected that we can offer help and advice so well. I’ve experienced this myself before. It often wasn’t until somebody affected themselves stepped up and shook some sense into me. Would I still be eating watery vegetable soup without so much of a grain and work out even when injured if I hadn’t had somebody step in and tell me to stop? Possibly yes.

No, I’m not recovered and not claiming to be. But I’m doing better than two years ago. A year ago. And if anything I can help others get to this point, too, or offer to lend an ear. It’s much easier to confine to somebody who can actually relate to your struggles rather than a well-meaning family member or friend who wishes you could “just eat more again“. If only it was that simple. Also, somebody who knows it isn’t that easy won’t judge you in the same way. Sometimes it’s easier to entrust yourself to strangers.

Additionally, from my experience there were many people talking behind my back but very few who dared to approach me to offer help. I don’t blame them: the disordered mindset is mystery if you haven’t gone through it yourself. What I’ve found from past times of offering support to other recoverers and vice versa is that it helped me see areas I needed to work on even better. It also served as a reminder why recovery is so worth it.

One word of caution, though, is the comparison trap: seeing somebody else struggle with something you thought you’d left behind [like cutting carbs at every occasion] can be triggering. But it can also be a positive reminder of progress you made and didn’t notice before.

All of this doesn’t just ring true for eating disorders, though. Any kind of mental or physical health issue is easier to communicate among others in the same situation. We’re united in the struggle – as ironical as that is.

Where this leaves me? Still a little on the fence. What I know is that I don’t want anybody – myself included – to struggle even longer. And if I don’t see others intervening – maybe I am ‘allowed’ to do it? This is the concept self-help groups are built on, after all. We can support each other and work towards the better.

Happiness-inducing today: A good conversation with a colleague.

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Again, you might not agree and I’m open for other opinions. Share your thoughts!

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7 thoughts on “Not allowed to speak up?

  1. Kaila @healthyhelperblog! says:

    I can so relate to your desire to want to reach out to people who are so clearly struggling. Especially in the blog world, there are countless young girls who I just wish I could talk to and offer some guidance. But I often feel it’s not my place and that I don’t really have the right to do that. Also, on the occasion I have reached out, I’m often met with defensiveness or all out ignoring of what I have to say. It sometimes feels like a losing battle when you’re simply trying to help!

  2. Amanda @ .running with spoons. says:

    I struggled with this kind of thing for a long time too, but from my experience, speaking up was usually met with hostility and defensiveness. There are a lot of people out there who just aren’t ready to admit or accept they have a problem, and no amount of advice is going to change that. I’m sure you remember what it was like — being so convinced you were doing the right thing that you weren’t willing to listen to anyone else. I know I do. That was me for years and years, both during my ED and during my recovery. I try to always be there for anyone who turns to me for help or advice, but I try not to stir the pot and offer advice where it’s not welcome. I’ve found that most people need to go through recovery at their own pace and the best thing you can do is be a good and encouraging example.

  3. Liz @ I Heart Vegetables says:

    I think it’s a tough subject because it’s hard to know if you’re really seeing it all or not, you know? But also it’s hard to know when to just be there and care for someone and when to speak up. It’s definitely a tough area 😦

  4. seidentofu says:

    Hi,
    I understand the impulse to want to help everybody, but as you know, you can’t force somebody to recovery or even to a greater awareness of their problems. But you’re doing a great thing with your blog. If someone is ready, or even just a little open to their problem, they can find your site. And maybe they see themselves in your words and get help. Or, if they reach out to you, you can meet them with kindness and empathy because, you know what they are going through and how ridicules hard it is.
    As to your question “Am I in a position to offer advice and help?” I would say: yes. At the beginning of my recovery from panic-disorder and social anxiety (oh well let’s call it social phobia) I took immense value from people just a little ahead in their journey sharing their thoughts and feelings. It was great to see, that
    1. Someone else was feeling and thinking the things I was (and deemed crazy/stupid/fearsome).
    2. This someone seeked help (and got it)
    Again, ooops, a very long comment 😉 But your post always get me reflecting.

  5. Laura says:

    I know with my first blog I definitely showed signs of very disordered eating/thinking. Once in a VERY blue moon someone would comment about my habits and I would immediately delete it. I was not in the mindset to accept help but instead got very defensive.

    So I guess I am still with you. I don’t think commenting on the blog and commending them for their meals of 90% vegetables is good, but I’m also not sure if voicing your concern is helpful either. :-/

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