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!