Wednesday, April 14, 2010

'Your Brother's Keeper'

Today I would like to write specifically to a group of sufferers who daily condone, and therefore confirm, the negative mind. In my new interaction on facebook, and for some years past, I have sadly come across many Pro-Ana sites. A Pro-Ana site makes a shrine to anorexia—and all eating disorders. Though I have the deepest respect for people’s right to express themselves, I have also some serious concerns that I would like to share with all of you.

In my understanding, an eating disorder is one symptom, of many possible symptoms, that come from a devastating, seriously devalued sense of self. This lack of, or diminished, self has taken time to develop to the point of its manifestation. I call it ‘Confirmed Negativity Condition’. CNC is the incorporation—the end result—the culmination of negative thoughts about one’s self over time. The then ‘Negative Mind’ repeats daily—hourly—in every moment—its conclusion about you—to you. It is never nice. It is an internal, incessant enemy of one’s potential self. It is a LIAR—An ABUSER of the worst kind. It attempts to deflate any dream, any possibility. It grabs the innocent.


Through ignorance and unawareness of this mind-state, all of us in the world, at one time or another, have been guilty of irresponsibility; of not understanding; of bystander apathy--for all the apparently best reasons—such as: to not interfere in somebody else’s life, not knowing what to do, mixed messages from the experts, contradictory messages from the media, not understanding the motivation behind the behavior, fear of the drain, the time, and the commitment of such emotional involvement, etc.

Most people with an eating disorder have a negative dialogue, a ‘voice’ or negative pressure, internally. Pro-Ana sites, hopefully unwittingly, continue to confirm this dialogue externally. Perhaps this happens from a feeling, initially, of helplessness, which over time becomes a hopelessness. I hear from so many people who have suffered terribly for years, and then--years again. Can’t reach out without being blamed. The other sufferers are the only ones who can relate. What to do? A sub-culture? No way out? Can’t beat it, so join it? So, therefore, be together in order to not feel alone—to validate your compromised existence in some distorted, destructive way? Is this really, in your minds, the only option we have left you? “Misery loves company”? Have we failed you so? Because…………………….

I cannot imagine that what can appear to me as unconscionable under the guise of camaraderie is actually intended by you:

Comparison of weight-- “I ate only this many calories today, sweetie, how about you? Did you stay under that number? Did you meet your goal? Let’s set a lower one for tomorrow.”—therefore, lessening the chances of survival of your fellow sufferer, and sometimes, your best friend.

Comparison of strategies—“How many laxatives did you use? How many times did you purge today? How many miles did you run?”—therefore, lessening the chances of survival of your fellow sufferer, and sometimes, your best friend.


I can only hope that the Pro-Ana sites exist out of desperation—because of the inability to reach out to loved ones for help. I just wish you to know that you are feeding the ‘Negative Mind’ which, in turn, increases its power over you. Would you not like it stopped? Would you not like to know who you really are?

Most people in life are followers. You have the ability to be a leader in a constructive way. You are beautiful, thinking, precious, individuals who have not had a chance to know or believe in yourselves. There is another way, albeit much harder. Re-train your brain—in a positive way. Spend every day thinking in contrast to the messages you have in your head. Do this for your friends as well. Encourage them every day, and they will do it for you. Compare notes to wellness. Use your imagination to your own and your friends’ positive benefit. You ARE your brother’s keeper, and they are yours. Start a new trend. Use your energy in a way that will extend life, not shorten it. You are not the ‘Negative Mind’. Then, see how you feel—being well. At least, give yourself the choice—do not sell yourself short. Do not accept defeat.

We love you, and we need you in our world as who you really can be—as who you really are.


Anonymous said...

In tears... so many brought up memories.
With all the wonderful life I’m experiencing right now, I understand your post in a different light. My heart goes to all of those beautiful victims I once met in the many Pro-Ana sites I used to visit when I my self was a sufferer some years ago. And it feels like a lifetime. I so wish you all could understand what I came to understand. I so wish you could be able to feed from Peggys words, to gather them into little sips of strength. There is hope, there is more than hope.

Thank you Peggy for all you taught me and still do, not only to me but to so many others. Love you to bits!


Janet Armbruster said...

Wow Peggy, That was so awesome. When I read your writings, my heart feels and understands everything you put on paper that at times is so very difficult to articulate for some of us.
It is very sad actually, that there are many ED sufferers that find it difficult to choose that road to recovery. As with an addiction, there are times the struggle to get better and do without your drug is just too hard. Therefore, you go back to what you "give up." In the recovery process, when we experience the cycle of two steps forward, three steps back, we grow weary.
These groups are feeding their negativity, they are helping each other to destroy each other. They are "competing" against each other almost to see who can self destruct first and die. These groups are especially unfortunate for those "new" to ED. They will basically have a "guide to self-destruction" at their fingertips. They will learn "new" methods and behaviors that will get them entangled even deeper into their "disease."
When I was in a treatment center for my ED, I learned lots of new methods which drove me deeper into patterns that were almost impossible to break.
I think what you are doing in educating people is a wonderful thing. Your compassion is breathtaking. If only every suffering person was fortunate enough to have someone enter their life to help them. How wonderful that would be.
I , personally would like to look up these sights and pray over them. Pray over the people who created them and pray over the people who seek them out searching for comfort and understanding, even if it is the wrong kind.
Your words are genuine and beautiful and make a difference in this world....
Sincerely, Janet Armbruster

Anonymous said...

Although I didn´t really use the pro ana sites as a "support" when I was ill, I did visit a few of them from time to time. the reason why I did that was, as I believe might be for many of us, it was like entering a room where everybody knew you and did not judge you, and that felt really relieving at times when the ED had a really strong hold on you. What you do not understand at that time is that even though feeling like you belongs somewhere feels like it´s good for you, it´s actually the complete opposite! You lose yourself just further in favor of the really powerful negative mind. And also I believe that many of those whom visits or starts pro ana sites never have come in contact with someone who truly understands them, and therefore they do not know any other choice, it´s the only choice besides surrender completely! This is said with an utmost respect for everyone and with hope that you will get the help to see that you are worth so much more, soooo MUCH more!!!
lots of love

Gabrielle said...

When I was very sick, I very briefly flirted with pro-ana online communities. You are on the mark that these exist out of desperation, and often because eating disorder sufferers are quite intelligent, nearly everyone knows intuitively that it is a terribly unhealthy atmosphere, and it's almost masochism/a feeling that they deserve it that keeps it going. I noticed that people start by looking for "inspirational" triggers, but eventually connect with the other members and start to feel very sad for them, which is not what someone who is also suffering needs. It's a viciously unhealthy cycle, especially since even when someone is making strides in recovery, they feel guilty leaving behind their 'friends' who are stagnant in their negative habits.

I also (sadly) suspect that there are people in those "communities" who don't suffer from what you call CNC, who are fueled by more malicious thought patterns into keeping a group of people around who can sink into their own negativity. It's a really heartbreaking situation. I've thought a lot about these online forums, and I still don't really know what can be done to effectively see them dissipate. When I was in treatment, I never once admitted to delving into it (out of what else? shame), but thankfully divorced myself rather easily when I decided to focus entirely on the positive. It's definitely something that those working with eating disorder sufferers need to address and be aware of. The online world is so bizarre, and there's so much we don't yet know about how it is affecting our world.

wornoutlove said...

this post gives me the willies. i've never been inclined to go to these sites because i'm already the expert on how to hate myself. i didn't need any encouragement there. the other thing is that it's unconscionable to me to encourage another's demise. i know it doesn't make sense to do to oneself what one wouldn't do to another and i'll try to explain that from my humble perspective. in my case anorexia is more a literal symptom of CNC and less about the criterion that make that diagnosis. i know it's made recovery difficult because i didn't fit all the clinical reasons why the experts say i should have anorexia, which meant i was not curable or even treatable because nobody knew HOW to treat me. for me it wasn't ever about weight, but then it morphed into wanting to disappear, to take up less space, so as to eventually die because i couldn't stop all the pain around me. furthermore, i couldn't understand why other people weren't seriously bothered by the things i was seeing. anorexia gave me a numbness that dulled that pain, but it never lasted long enough, some sadness or strife from the world always managed to get through. nobody could ever help for long because i would inevitably feel a clinician's pain and then i couldn't continue.

i hope there are some other people, as i go out on this limb, that can relate to not eating because all the things one feels make it so hard. often i find myself overwhelmed by something that feels a lot like grief. the things that add to create that are huge and they weigh in my throat and my heart like lead, making eating a job, and a painful one at that. in that way there hasn't ever been a place where i fit in with my eating disorder, so i felt very alone. i think maybe i'm not. i hope that if that person or persons is/are reading this, they'll now know THEY aren't alone. i don't know how to fix it but i do know that feeling stinks, and for that reason only i'm speaking my truth. a couple people know, but i've been really scared, so i've stayed silent.

in some strange way there is ambivalence in going to any eating disorder site, even if only a tiny amount. it means there is a part of oneself that is still reachable, or there simply would be no need for convincing one way or the other, negative or positive. in a similar way, there is a greater possibility to reach people in those places.

the absolute isolation by not going to recovery or pro sites is very scary and i understand that. there is a moment when one decides nothing helps anymore, and then the notion of death becomes easy not just desirable or driven by guilt. it was divine love that brought me to this blog, and for that i'm still amazed, grateful, and struggling with how real it may actually be.

i hope that maybe something i've said can help someone. for now i cling to the pinprick of light rather than hanging onto the much bigger area of darkness, perhaps because that would be too easy, and i've never been big on the easy way.

sorry i've rambled.

all love,

Anonymous said...

I can't help but wonder if the desire to feel understood is the bottom line. Sadly, sometimes the pursuit to be understood takes us to people or places where understanding gets skewed. So few people truly understand all the layers of this bewildering illness. Thankfully you do.

Peggy Claude-Pierre said...

Dear Carla,

Hey, angel girl--thanks for your post--your always positive input. It was a pleasure to help you and to be introduced to your intelligent sense of humor. Love you to bits back.

Peggy Claude-Pierre said...

Dear Janet,

So do your words make a difference. Thank you so much for taking the time to write a comment. It is kind of you to share yourself with us and wonderful to know you are with us. Much love.

Peggy Claude-Pierre said...

Michaela--Amen, honey.

Peggy Claude-Pierre said...

Thank you so much Gabrielle, for your insight. A wise little soul once told me that 'everyone is good at their core'. I hold that thought close to me. Perhaps together, we can find a way to persuade people with negative thinking to be more aware of the damage they do and to use their leadership influence in more positive ways. Much love.

Peggy Claude-Pierre said...

Dear WOL,

Again, honey, it is ok to feel--to inspire caring, mothering feelings in others. We come from a place of strength. You are our focus, the point of our work. You are our teachers. As a positive unit, we are very real and fueled by the passion to make the world a better place. You are the ones who help us do that and we count ourselves fortunate to know you.

Peggy Claude-Pierre said...

Dear Anonymous,
We will do our best to teach. Come help? Thank you for your input and for who you are. Much love.

andresenhanne said...

Be careful with pro-ana sites. This is NOT a game. Trust me. Especially when you sit again with an body who are damaged – maybe for the rest if my life.