Note: This isn’t just relevant if you if you have struggled/are struggling with an eating disorder – you might find this applicable to your own blog, too.
Reading the title, some of you might wonder: ‘But isn’t that what she started out as??’. And well, I figure you could say I was leaning towards it more in sharing recovery-focused topics and struggles in many of my first posts, yes.
Am I recovered? Not struggling with food anymore? Unfortunately no.. Yet I do not want to go into this topic all the time anymore, not let this be me as a whole. Sharing bits here and there because I don’t want to pretend to be something I’m not . It’s an unfortunate part of me, one that has shaped my life, there’s no denying this. Centering my whole blog around recovery and my strained relationship with food and my appearance, though, is not what I’m trying and wouldn’t recommend for anybody. Here’s why:
Not letting go
If I was to write about EDs and food anxiety all day every day, immersing myself into the recovery blogosphere only, I’d allow these things to manifest. I’d allow them to have more power over me and my life than they should. I’d allow them to keep me stuck. And this exactly has always been my worry and criticism regarding full-on recovery accounts. At some point in life – and given the length of my own struggles I’m not putting any number of months or years of recovery here – you should [be able to] let go of being ‘in recovery’, ‘fighting your way back to happiness’ or whatever else recovery Instagram bios read like these days and just live.
Who am I without my ED? or: Losing your identity [for the better]
If you feel you can post your every meal, the accompanying feelings of guilt and worry while eventually eating more and more and identifying with your ED less and less – awesome, keep going. But if you feel tied to your recovery title and scared of who you’ll be once you’re weight-restored [mental recovery, as most of us will know, takes a lot longer] and not as intensely afraid of eating anymore – reconsider. I think this “identity crisis” is something most if not all of us in recovery will experience at some point. A lot of blog posts out there address this struggle and I won’t pretend I had it all figured out myself yet. Just being honest here.
This exact point – clinging to an identity created or held up by an ED – is what Kaila Prins talked about on the Food Psych podcast. The topic and a past draft of this post had been on my mind more than a year ago already but her words brought it back to the forefront of my mind. Kaila specifically talks about a certain blogger [anonymously] she wanted to help recover but couldn’t. A girl tied to her identity as a health blogger, athlete and creator of low-calorie recipes. So yes, I can absolutely understand how hard deciding to fully recover is when your identity, you brand essentially depends on you being trapped in your ED. What if recovering for you meant – temporary or longer term – a lack of interest in cooking, a preference for rich desserts rather than healtified versions and you no longer enjoyed the intense workouts you did before – but feel that your readers expect you to? Are you going to hold up an image that is no longer you or take the scary step of diving into the unknown?
Not writing a recovery blog? It still applies
Even if the focus of your blog is a completely different one, the same might happen. Maybe you’re writing a running blog. What if you suddenly get injured and need to take months off to recover? Or discover that you enjoy yoga more or even take a break from formal exercise altogether (it happens!). Maybe you’re writing a vegan/paleo/macrobiotic/whatever diet blog, strongly recommending the diet to everybody around but then find you need to include animal products in your diet again[we’ve seen what happened to other bloggers in this case before; the Balanced Blonde being the best known example]. Or you happen to discover intuitive eating and as such suddenly find that you want to let go of labels altogether. Or a fashion blog but you fall out of love with fashion or question the ethics behind it at some point. I could go on with examples here but I think you got my point. I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with choosing a specific niche for your blog. And if you’re lucky, you have an awesome community cool with a change of focus in your blog. If you’re not – and I’ve heard/read bloggers talk about their struggles with this – you might feel torn: Continue to write about something you’re not feeling anymore because you feel you owe it to your readers or you built a business on it. Or daring the metaphorical leap into the dark in changing topics. Even if you enjoy the topic you chose immensely, why not share the occasional post about some other interests of yours [this might just be me in keeping those doors open for a potential change of mind after all …]? We’re all way too diverse characters to eternally specify on just one niche and – speaking as a reader here – your readers might be curious to see more facets of you, too.
The things I’d consider are: Can I imagine myself writing about this overall topic in, say, five years still or will I have nothing new to say anymore/outgrown it? And (the most important one for me): Do I want to be identified as this (i.e. the athlete, the recovering person, the health nut never touching any sugar, …). We all change. That’s what life is about. Growth. Developing into different directions. Finding ourselves. And – to end this long post here – that’s what I want my blog to reflect. I’m not who I was when I started this blogging journey and I don’t know the person I will be in five years yet. What I do know is that I’m curious about what’s to come and sharing it through my writing. Unless I decide I hate writing – which is very unlikely to happen because yes, that’s one identity I’ve had since my childhood and am happy to own: being a writer [and reader].
Enough from me: I’m genuinely interested to hear your thoughts on the above!
Happiness-inducing today: Taking a walk – no matter how short – when the weather cleared up a little. Oh, and the memories of yesterday’s cooking date with a friend. These always make my soul happy.