If you look at the archive listed by month on my sidebar (peek to the right), you’ll see that I first started blogging December 2008. That was around the time when I had just arrived in Singapore. I was at the uphill of my recovery, and I’ve been blogging ever since.
Blogging has helped my recovery in tremendous ways. I do not think that it started my recovery, or that without it I wouldn’t have made much progress. But it definitely made the battle somehow more efficient.
As I’ve said before, I never went to a eating disorder-specific treatment center. The only medical and professional help I got was being hospitalized, hooked up to the EKG and being fed hospital food for a few days. I didn’t have a therapist and I didn’t join an eating disorder support group. I craved some kind of community though.
Although my parents were wonderful to me and listened to whatever I had to say without judgment, it still wasn’t quite the same. Even though I tried to explain my fears and ED rationales to my brothers and sisters in church, my bible group and my friends, at some point I just got so tired of trying to explain this disorder. Because as I was trying to explain it, it just sounded so dumb and crazy even to me– yet the feeling was so real; the obsession griped me every second. Thus I got flustered and frustrated each time I had to try to explain all those complicated and complex workings of the eating disordered mind to someone who had never experienced such mental disorders before.
At some point, I just wanted to be able to talk about my struggles frankly and straight to the point without having to explain them. Or tell the history of how and why I got my eating disorder. I just wanted…to tell. Not explain, not teach, not debate, just comfortably and honestly tell.
I’d actually been blogging even before I started Burp and Slurp. But that blogging was more like a private diary. I used it as an online substitute for a journal and most of the ramblings I recorded down was directed at myself, for my eyes only.
But then I discovered a whole community out there in the World Wide Web. I don’t know how I found it, but I must have been clicking through the healthy living blogs I’ve been perusing daily and somehow stumbled upon a few blogs that were written by eating disordered individuals who were in recovery.
It was like stumbling into a goldmine. I had been searching online for months and years looking for an online chat group or something, where I could make friends with whom I could discuss recovery and motivate each other. I found one and signed up, but I was kicked out and blocked because I stupidly mentioned my current weight at the time and it was deemed pro-Ana and triggering to the other girls.
The niche of eating disorder recovery blogs is a whole new world that was utterly new to me. When I first read one, I wanted to hug the writer for all the honest struggles she published because I felt like she was reading my mind. It was a Wow dude, get outta my head! kind of realization that there are many, many, oh so many people out there struggling with such eerily similar problems as me. That in itself gave me some kind of comfort to know that I’m not alone. I’m not crazy. It also gave me sufficient reconfirmation that I– Sophia Lee– was not truly a self-absorbed, narcissistic, cruel, conniving, self-pitying wretch. It was the eating disorder who made me– and a whole group of other people– that way.
As someone who has been writing ever since she learned the alphabet, I couldn’t just sit and watch other people’s writings on screen. I had to participate. I had to write! I had so many stories and things to say jumbled and cramped into my mind, pushing against my forehead and buzzing to be released into concrete words.
So I started a blog, too. This blog.
At the beginning, I followed the unofficial template of recording almost everything I ate in a day. I was somewhere at the discovering cooking stage, so most of my food was the usual and similar to many of the other blogs. I was so excited about having my own blog that I basically just babbled about the happenings in my day. I don’t exactly remember the things I wrote and honestly I don’t really want to because it makes me cringe when I peek into my really old blog posts.
I wanted to record my recovery. One thing I promised myself as I was blogging was to be as true to myself as I could be. I wanted to be honest with my struggles, and the purpose of my blog was to write down my thoughts and feelings and use it as a practical tool to help me through the messy tangles of recovery. I also wanted to make new friends who were in the same boat as me, and I had lofty, shiny dreams of us forming a team of ED conquerors, busting ED’s ass and congratulating each other at the end.
That didn’t happen, as at some point I realized that while being part of the ED recovery community was helpful in the way that it made me feel less alone, it could also turn into a mire that keeps me stuck in a never-ending cycle of “trying” to recover. But before I get into that, I want to talk about how it did help me:
- There is so much power in the written word.
At least for me, writing something down makes me think so much clearer. Sometimes I wouldn’t even really understand what I’m feeling and why I feel that way until I just write down the things that pop into my mind and then organize them until they become clear to me. Blogging my daily little struggles with ED made it clear to me each day that I’m in a battle, that I am struggling, that I am fighting. That helped me keep in track from losing sight of my goal and getting stuck in limbo.
- It pushed me to challenge myself.
Okay, when you’re in recovery, and actually making some actions of recovery, there will be many, many little “victories.” Some of them may be big, but most of them are pretty silly, like eating dinner a couple hours later than your self-assigned time, or eating three chocolates instead of two, stuff like that. So. Who are you going to boast about these silly tales of mini-mini-mini successes? Only the eating disorder recovery community can really understand how much they mean to you.By being able to blog all these small triumphs, I felt a rush of real confidence and satisfaction. After all, being able to talk out loud (or type) about your overcomings justify them as a real thing. And having commenters congratulate me and being happy for me…well, it made me want to have another episode of victory to brag about, which pushed me to challenge myself more and more.
- It kept me sane.
Recovery can be freaking long, and at times, it is boring, especially if you’re stuck in a life where you aren’t really doing anything. You don’t have much of a social life, and that ends up being a big hindrance to your recovery because you get depressed and even weirder just hanging out by yourself at home. I was blogging daily, and it was almost like a fun homework to me. I liked having work to do, and that kept my brain active. It also kept me engaged to the happenings in other parts of the world, and sort of help me step out of my own little shell.
- It gave me a sense of mission.
By connecting and reading other blogs, blogging made me realize with a shock just how many people are out there struggling with eating disorders. It made me realize that ED is the 21st century epidemic.That made me MADDER at my eating disorder! I hated it so much! I loathed it for making not just my life miserable, but millions of other girls, even girls as young as 9, hate themselves and treat themselves so horribly. The more I blogged, the more I felt this sense of purpose that– well, if I was going to write, I might as well write a testimony. I would honestly write down all my struggles, but I would strive to end them with victories. I wanted to freaking succeed and thus kick ED in the chin and demonstrate to myself and others that the terrible, evil ED? Not so strong anymore.
Right now, it doesn’t matter to me whether my blog is “great” or not. In the process of writing and living and writing, my blog was definitely a huge blessing to me. It wasn’t the start-all, end-all of my recovery, but it was definitely a brilliant…lubricant. It made the daily battle of recovery much more fun, exciting and efficient for me.
But at the same time, it was a bumpy, learning process of figuring out what kind of blogging works for me.
I stopped photographing and recording everything I ate:
I realized how stupid and frankly, harmful to my recovery it really was to write down my daily diet. It was just another form of calorie-counting and obsessing, even if I didn’t actually work out the math. Taking pictures of all my snacks and meals is not normal, and recovery is all about gaining back a normal life. Perhaps it helps other individuals, but it just wasn’t for me.
I stopped participating intensely in the ED recovery community:
As much as I liked the camaraderie and the support, at some point…I just got a bit turned off. It bothered me when I saw some people post the same struggles over and over and over yet do nothing except complain about how hard everything is, and it definitely upset me when I saw their meager meals and ultra-healthy snacks. I’m not proud, but it certainly made me hopping-mad when I saw someone in such blatant denial yet get comments of praise and admiration.
And there were many situations in which it almost felt like I was in the kind of tension-high ED treatment center where really eating disordered girls competed to be the sickest, triggering each other, and bad-mouthing/judging each other behind one another’s back. Except because this was a recovery community, it was even more twisted and you were obliged to continuously say lovely things to someone who clearly needed a wake-up call. I can’t really explain it– all I can say is it didn’t make me feel good. At some point the very thing that had drawn me in started becoming the thing that turned me off.
I struggle with classic “blogger” feelings:
I think almost every blogger inevitably deals with a feeling of self-grandeur. As your readership goes up, you start caring about the numbers– the statistics of how many people are reading, how many people are liking, etc. I hate that I care, but I do. It feels horrible each time I get an unsubscription notice and I wonder what’s wrong with me, the blog, blah blah blah. It hurts especially when I get negative comments. As much as I know I make mistakes and do stupid things, it really hurts to receive attacking comments and I feel like I’m put on a public pedestal for people to judge my imperfections.
It’s stupid, and I have to remind myself why I blog in the first place. At the end, this blog is for me. I’m not earning money from it, I’m not doing it to publish a book, I’m not trying to gain admiration and I’m not even trying to be an inspiration. Because I know I’m not someone to admire. I’m just a simple, weak person who went through ED hell and by the grace of God and the wonderful, loving people He put by my side, I somehow survived. It is an absolute blessing the way my story linked and curled, and I know it was all God’s doing.
So here’s my conclusion to how blogging helped me: At the end, it’s just a tool. It all depends on how I use it, what my attitude and purpose is in using this incredibly utilitarian tool. At the end, I’m still its master. I’m the one holding and using it. The important thing is that I’m still in control of it, and I use it to serve my purposes.
And you know what? I’m still learning to wield it properly. It’s still a learning process. Just like life.
But for now, I love that I have a whole archive of my personal stories and ramblings on file. When I look back to the way I was before, I shudder and thank God I’m not in that condition anymore. It keeps me grounded, and it helps me maintain a sense of empathy for people who may be in that stage right now. It’s a reminder to me that I’m a weak individual, but that I’m a blessed one because I owe my life to God and many, many individuals in my life.
Thoughts to Ponder:
1) Do you have a blog? If not, have you considered having one?
2) If you have a blog, would you recommend others having one and using it for eating disorder recovery purposes?
3) Do you know any other usefulness/pitfalls of blogging that I’ve failed to mention?