Why I’m not writing a recovery blog

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.

Fall collage

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.

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Hatred hurts. Where did the social [media] go?

Edited to add: As I got a few few comments and questions I wanted to clear up any potential confusion [sorry for that!]. Neither have I personally been target of any online bullying nor is my post exclusively directed at any specific websites or forums though I do see a lot [like the threats mentioned below] of it happening on Instagram.

Warning ahead: Certain happenings go me thinking again and there are lots of words ahead. Yet it’s an important issue I feel all of us have an opinion on or experiences with.

Let's talk

Faith in humanity. It’s constantly shaken aback by incidents that make you doubt its existence all over the world. However, it’s not merely through actual terrorism.  happening daily. Right around is in what is actually called $$ social $$ media but makes you wonder if some people leave their kindness at the login buttom or commenting form.

A few snarky comments aside I haven’t been victim of this very anti-social part of social media yet. But I’ve heard of and seen the reality of what is happening …

Gossiping and rumors.

Accusations.

Death threats towards people

The problem that can also be a blessing is: words are not just words. They’re powerful. Just like the unexpected surprise of a kind reader’s mail saying the enjoyed your recent post can brighten a bad day an accusing mail or overload of critical comments can turn said day even worse.

Think before you speak – the old rule applies still in the new age of social media. Or it should. Even if we disagree with others – and yes, I do occasionally, too – there are other options than hate. In fact, why not see it as a challenge and training for real life situations that enrage you: can you voice your criticism in a way that allows the other person a reaction other than tears and feeling hurt? A way that opens up a respectful discussion?

Truth is: yes, as bloggers we are opening ourselves up to criticism. But not all voluntarily. There’s no ‘social media light’ option: all the fun and community without the hate. If there was everybody would opt for that, thankyouverymuch. And: there’s [constructive]criticism and then there’s [hurtful]criticism. It’s okay if you can’t understand somebody’s choice and ask for their reasoning. But it’s definitely not okay to threaten to kill somebody’s dog [as seen on Instagram,yes] or the person herself [as read on a popular blogger’s media outlet]. Gossiping wasn’t cool in school and it’s definitely not on the much larger scale as the whole internet as your school yard. Or neighborhood.

Garden

In a food-centered social media world it’s not too surprising which topics leads to heated debates most often: diets. I’ll paint a slightly exaggerated picture for illustration of examples I actually witnessed:

If you choose to eat vegan/paleo/HCLF and talk about the amazing benefits nonstop you’re a superstar and have many devotees.

If, however, you do the above and suddenly notice you’re actually not feeling supreme anymore, hence decide to introduce a few non-diet-conform foods or – heaven beware – give up said diet for good: beware of the haters.

Once again: I talk about dietary-induced conflicts but the issue I’m talking about happens on a much larger scale involving criticism of people as a whole. Whatever you do and or/talk about – especially if you have a large following – you have to expect harsh criticism and bad rumors every minute.

What also makes me sad is knowing there are places/websites with the sole purpose of fuelling hatred and hurtful gossip. With the most popular one being the Lord Voldemort of the blog world I will not write out its name but I’m sure most of you know which forums I’m talking about. I’ll admit I’ve been reading up a bit every now and then there – curiosity always wins, right? – and became more and more disgusted. Like I said: criticism is one thing. But what these people feel they knew about others or try to find out borders on stalking. It is not normal to discuss somebody’s eating behaviours and doubt the truth of what they say or show. Not normal to make assumptions about a blogger’s family or the state of their relationships from a single picture of a few lines in a post. Not normal to discuss possble eating disorders or other illnesses of bloggers you don’t even know personally. Not normal to tear apart every post or comment somebody makes, dissecting it for some ugly truths worthy snarking about.

Everybody is entitled their own opinion? Absolutely, yes. But note the difference: everybody is entitled their own opinion not entitled unreasonable and endless hatred towards people of different opinion or living lifestyles you don’t approve of. But tnat is the reality of social media these days.

Candles

We’re all nosey, I get and admit it. But there’s a line to be crossed and it has been in many cases. Did you watch Mean Girls? It’s like that on steroids. Times ten.

If I was granted one wish for Christmas it would be for more kindness in the world. Or at least the world of social media. Especially as we know there’s a huge wonderful part of it, too. Let’s show the haters and the internet skepticals that love and respect still exist these days. We’re not that awful of a society and generation, are we?

 

Happiness-inducing today: Coincidentially receiving a letter from a fellow blogger. Call me old-fashined but real letters > e-mails any day.

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Hatred, hurtful gossiping and even death threats: how do you experience this on social media? Share any thoughts you have on the topic.

Fear [not]! The marketing trick to be aware of.

Anoter Thursday is upon us and it’s time for …

Thinking-Out-Loud

 

Sex sells – we all know it [and probably are opposed to the sexism part of it but this is a discussion for another day]. You know what else sells?

Fear.

It’s a powerful emotion because nobody wants to be feel it and will do anything to avoid it. No surprise – but all the more enraging – that clever marketing makes use of this. My latest reminder came in the form of a popular media figure’s newsletter I signed up for eons ago and – don’t tell me you can’t relate – was too lazy to unsubscribe from. Anyway, aforementioned mail dove into memories of past holidays, nostalgia of indulging in the many seasonal treats available in stores. Only to abruptly go into the horrors hiding in these. All the nasty ingredients threatening to poison you.

But fear not: the wonderful sender of this mail obviously has a ton of recipes – actually a book, too, how neat! – to offer that will sub in for any of the bad, no, horrific treats you’re craving. As long as a) you can pretend a sugar-free whole grain cookie tastes as good as your favourite seasonal candy cane Oreos or chocolates and b) keep carrying a boatload of them around with you to any holiday party you’re attending.

Lindt_Easter_chocolate

If it was only about food: annoying enough. But it doesn’t end there. According to the source above you’re also putting yourself under an immense risk of disease every time you – take a shower. No typo. Shocking, isn’t it? So, tell me: of exactly how many people have you heard dying from toxins caught in the shower?

This is what irks me the most: the lacking proof to back up any of those claims. We all know that eating too much sugar isn’t healthy. We all know pesticides and GMOs aren’t our friends.If you believed every new study or article published there would be one thing left to consume. Or maybe not if we believe above shower horror story … I believe common sense gets us far enough. Even those just starting out on their journey to making healthier choices don’t need to be scared into doing so. Sugar won’t kill you and neither will meat. There’s no need for extremes but all the more need for consumers critically questioning sensational and shocking headlines and marketing claims.

Balance. Moderation. These are the keywords you need. No black and white thinking.

If you can still grab a bag of chips or bar of your favourite chocolate without at least a twinge of guilt after reading the many posts of healthy advice out there: congrats! You just proved that you’re not falling prey to the marketers that want you to shiver thinking about your next shower or attend a spontaneous get-together with friends.

Erdnusslocken_flips_peanut

It makes me ragey to see how big influencers abuse their power to scare people. Fear-force them into buying their products. Show me the long-term studies you found your statements on – but don’t try to lure people into buying your latest cleanse, books, vitamin waters or toxine-free pillows through fear or shame. There are enough real issues to worry about in the world so using fear as a marketing tactic is downright repulsive. What will eventually come about it – other than the cash piling up on the bank accounts of the holier-than-thou health ‘experts’ – is chronic misinformation, hypochondrias and confusion. Once you’re convinced all of these fear-mongering claims are true living a normal carefree life becomes a lot harder.

Say no to the fear-mongering. Eat your favourite childhood treats and your broccoli. Be a badass rebel and take all the showers you want. Because life is too short to worry about every step you take.

 

Happiness-inducing today: Other than some days, there was just too much to list here. One of the cutest was a child at my current ‘job’ cheering me on during a game of  Mensch ärgere dich nicht [similar to Ludo]. I almost won, too ;).

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Have you noticed this issue before? What are you thoughts on it? Any other marketing tricks that bother you? Shame is another one that makes me sad to see all around,

Do you dare to go naked?

Wake up, stretch, turn on the kettle to boil water for tea or prepping some coffee, use the bathroom, eat breakfast, get ready and get out of the door. A morning routine. And for most of us, applying make-up falls somewhere into that routine. It’s an almost thoughtless procedure. Just like you wouldn’t forget to brush your hair, I’m not here to offer any solutions or advice on the topic. Rather, I’m using Amanda’s invitation to threw around some questions for discussion and then sit back and curiously await your takes on the topic.

Let's talk

The big question when talking about make-up is the why behind using it. Does it still have that playful appeal it used to when we were little and in awe of our mum’s rouge, lipstick and nail polish?  Do you still go out without make-up occasionally? This is where I see huge differences in people.  Some people don’t bother using make-up or spending money on it at all. Others – and I’ve experienced this first hand with a friend of mine – spend hours a day making sure their make-up is flawless and feel naked without it.

Just like many of us [unfortunately] feel uncomfortable in their bodies and standing in front of a mirror undressed, not wearing make-up potentially has a similar effect. The huge curiosity around and praise for celebrities showing their bare faces made me wonder, too.   Do they really encourage women [or men?] to go out ‘naked’, too, or in reverse effect make it seem more daunting?

The amount of make-up I wear on a daily basis is minimal but yes, I will admit I’m feeling a smidgen less confident without it. I’m naturally very pale and missing the rouge on my cheeks makes me rival Caspar more than Wendy [does anybody remember that movie??].

Rouge

I will admit I don’t see myself stopping to use make-up anytime soon. However, I will keep re-eavaluating how dependent I am on it. Once again, looking at children can teach us a lessson or two here.  Not only do they have Intuitive Eating down to a pat but have an admirable look at make-up in an easy-going and empowering way, too. It helps them turn into a courageous lion, a sparkly princess or whatever else they want to be for a day. For them, make-up is an enabling instrument, not part of their personality or something taking power of them.

Just like not everybody is allowed to see ourselves undressed, I think it’s okay to use some make-up when out and about with a crowd. But there should also be people we trust enough to show ourselves the way nature intended. People that see us ugly-cry, tears all over our faces and vulnerable. Don’t let make-up control you or take away any of your confidence. Confidence shouldn’t be applicable from the outside and easily wiped away with a cotton ball. True confidence comes from within.

 

Over to you: What are your thoughts and experiences on the topic?

 

Happiness-inducing today: Going on a long walk with a friend – walking and talking is the best combination.

 

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Dare to be the unpopular one.

The first Thursday of Fall … can you believe it? Get out all the boots, scarves, fluffy socks and … thick blankets. I didn’t want to leave my bed this morning because it’s cold! Then again, staying in bed is no option [and yes, it gets boring after a while] so while I’m up already I’m joining  Amanda in thinking out loud again. It’s another one of those hardly-edited posts where I let my mind lead me. Daring to follow this path for me as an overthinker but that’s what this post is all about.

Thinking-Out-Loud

I don’t like ketchup. Or mayonnaise [the smell alone makes me gag]. Or aioli. Or mustard [nasty!]. Actually, I can probably count the number of condiments I do eat on one hand.

I don’t drink alcohol. But if you do, that’s cool with me. Just like I won’t judge your diet.

My favourite beverage in the morning? Tea. No coffee in the AM. Actually, no coffee has been seen around here for months.

Pumpkin spice latte? I don’t think so. Which yes, means you won’t be seeing any of my money, Starbucks!

I don’t use Snapchat and don’t understand the hype about it, either. If you do, great, but I’ll pass.

Using Instagram? Sure. But taking pictures of all my meals, 4f4 or shoutouts? No. That’s not my style and I won’t change to please you.

 

These obviously aren’t any shocking revelations that would make anybody kick me out of their house. What they all have in common, though? Most people would disagree or feel differently on at least the majority of these. And you know what? That’s okay. We can’t ever be friends with everybody.

Growing up, I was shy about voicing my opinions or admitting I disagreed with people. It was much easier to ## not speak up at all ## or silently nod. Was it good, though? No. Keeping to yourself and swimming with the tide? Doesn’t allow you to actually grow and discover what you stand for.

ShoesLiterally not standing for it.

The actual reason I’m bringing up the topic is that surprisingly, my most popular posts [and the ones I put most passion into writing] are those where I just let my thoughts flow. No ‘but what if somebody thinks I’m weird?’ or ‘maybe I shouldn’t ….’s . That’s something I’m still learning but it’s seriously rewarding to dare and be different. Last week’s post? If I’d let it sit in my drafts folder for any longer – chances are you’d have never seen it. The feedback I got admittedly overwhelmed me [thank you so much again! Your comments mean the world to me]. And even if I hadn’t gotten as many comments just one or two people telling me how much it resonated with them would have been amazing.

The only hard rules about topics I post is: don’t be a jerk. Don’t hurt others [intentionally]. No political or religious topics [because those do have the tendency to hurt others].

When we dare to be different from the norm, we’ll more often than not discover we’re actually not alone in our ‘weirdness’. Somebody has to make a start to change something in the world or even just make people think, get a conversation started. Be different, be yourself – and be surprised by others’ response. You never know who might secretly share your unpopular opinions and appreciate you speaking up.

 

Happiness-inducing today: Making somebody else happy with good news I had for her.

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No specific questions today but I’m curious to hear your thoughts and experiences on the issue.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What to think about before you post.

It’s Thursday already!? If it wasn’t for both my calendar and laptop telling me this I’d be in denial.   Either way, after failing to publish my already drafted WIAW post yesterday thanks to no internet connection – me and technology don’t get along well so don’t ask what all I tried to fix it … – I’m following Amanda‘s invitation to think out loud once more. Let’s see where typing a post in a spur of the moment decision leads …

Thinking-Out-Loud

What inspired this post is a multitude of experiences and thoughts so bear with me as I’m trying to work out a clear line. This will very much follow Amanda’s no-script suggestion of Thinking out loud so there we go …

You set a new PR at the gym.

You’re working in an amazing high-paying job.

So you quit sugar, refined flour and all of these other nasty, nasty ingredients.

In short: you have accomplished something in life and are proud. Rightly so. In a world where self-doubt is a prominent characteristic enhanced by many magazines and websites telling us how to improve our [perceived] flaws and always be prettier/happier/[insert adjective of choice] it’s great to see people proud of theirselves and feeling comfortable in their skin. But …

Don’t let your confidence diminish that of others. I will not tell you to hide your pride altogether because like I said: it’s great you’re feeling good about yourself! Yet I think some people are taking their pride and talking about it too far.

favourite magazines

Taking pictures of your ab progress because you worked hard and you’re proud of getting where you are? is Understandable. You couldn’t be more excited to tell everybody on Facebook, Instagram and elsewhere how much better you feel since changing your diet to vegan/paleo/sugar-free? Understandable.

I’m still standing in for my opinion on Instagram: it’s your choice what to post and talk about. But for the sake of others it might be a good idea to occasionally consider if your pride has the potential of hurting others. Seeing too many ab shots or hearing people about their weight loss success while you’re in recovery from an eating disorder [or while ‘just’ recovering from an injury that keeps you from training], trying to gain could be discouraging and lead to unsatisfying comparison. But why are you following these people in anyway, then? <- I personally choose not to follow those people but from what I’ve seen and heard others in recovery say it affected them.

The same goes for people who show pictures of their pedometers/fit bits/Polar watches. If you do it: ask yourself why. What might this make your Facebook ‘friends’ or followers on Instagram feel like? Does the text you wrote aboutyour epiphany since you gave up sugar sound judgemental towards those who like their sweet treats? Is your progress picture potentially triggering?

The takeaway here? Don’t be less proud of what you’ve accomplished. But before you go about sharing your pride all over the place keep in mind how it might affect others. Everybody is on their own journey but it’s hard not to get distracted or discouraged when comparison is lurking all over the place.

 

Happiness-inducing today: Successfully work on a presentation [about Immigration in the US] with the exchange student I’m teaching – both of us were learning from each other which is the best kind in my opinion.

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No specific questions today but I’m curious to hear your thoughts and experiences on the issue.