Wednesday, March 21, 2012

A Sensitive Subject

I've been wanting to post about this particular subject for a few days now, but have been hesitatant to do so because I don't want anyone to get offended, or take what I'm about to say the wrong way.  I am deathly afraid of being misunderstood with such a sensitive subject, so I'm going to proceed with caution, and I hope all of you reading will not take offense.

I've been thinking a lot lately about what is best for me and my recovery.  I know that only having 4 months of essentially perfect recovery isn't very long in the grand scheme of things, especially considering I've had my eating disorder for just over 10 years, but for me, it's amazing.  I've never done this well this consistently for this long.  So to me this time and this progress is precious.  It means so much to me and I don't take it lightly.  So, what I'm trying to say, is that my world is changing dramatically.  I am approaching things differently, and I am really and truly trying to take care of myself and my family and not lapse back into eating disorder behaviors. 

So, my own personal little Brie World is changing.  But the rest of the world isn't.  And this is what is really troubling me; what I'm having such a difficult time acclimating to.  Reading other people's blogs that are eating disorder related, or reading status updates on Facebook about eating disorders, or getting emails or texts that are all about relapsing and/or being really sick or completely disregarding recovery and wellness and wholeness and deciding to go back to the eating disorder...I just can't tolerate it, you guys.  (How's THAT for a run-on sentence, wow.)  And that's why I'm nervous to post this blog, because I don't want to be misread as meaning that I can't stand all of you and why can't you just recover and get over this blah blah blah.  I'm not saying that.  So please don't take it that way.  What I'm having a difficult time handling is reading so much about people being sick, when I'm so well.  I don't want to be around this stuff anymore.  Now that my world isn't devoted to anorexia, I don't like reading about other people devoting their life to their eating disorder, because it makes me sad and angry and I want for them to want recovery like I do.  I guess I wrote about this a week or so ago, in my Our Own Path post.  I just wish I could make everyone want to get better.  And I can't, and it makes things so hard because I don't know how to continue to relate with people and be their friends when all I want to do is throttle them and somehow make them SEE how crappy their life is with ED, and how beautiful it could be if they would let all this needless drama go.  But I can't do that.

And so I don't know where to go.  I don't know how I fit in anymore.  I've changed, but the world around me hasn't.  And the world around me is entrenched in eating disorders and self-harm and in being sick to get attention and I just can't really tolerate it anymore.  I want to run from it all, but I don't know how to, because I worry that if I run from it, then I run from my friends.  I don't want to abandon them or somehow give them the message that I don't care, and that's why I'm so conflicted.  Because I don't know how to be well and maintain my recovery but also somehow help them recover too in a way that is beneficial to them but also not harmful to me, at the same time.  I don't even know if any of that made sense.  I'm struggling to explain myself today, I guess.

So I don't know what to do.  Do I stop reading the eating disorder related blogs, even if the blog's authors are my friends?  Do I de-friend every person on Facebook that has an eating disorder?  Do I refuse to associate with people who are actively in their ED and who are not trying to get better?  That all sounds a little dramatic to me.  But at the same time, I can't continue on with how things used to be, where I was completely consumed with the ED, whether it was my own, or with everyone else's.  I just don't have the desire or the stamina to do that anymore.  I don't want my world to revolve around eating disorders anymore.

So where is the middle ground, here?  How do I manage all this?  This is such a tricky and touchy topic, and I don't want to hurt anyone, so I really and truly don't know what to do.  If anyone has any suggestions or personal experiences or ideas or ANYTHING, please leave a comment.  I am baffled and heart broken about all of this, and I don't know what to do or how to navigate through all of this.

35 comments:

Stacy said...

not solutions but ideas.
on FB you don't have to unfriend them but maybe hide their posts. you can go look at their page when you want to know how they are doing, they can still reach you and see your life but their posts that are hard for you to read will no longer show up in your news feed.
as far as blogs go.. do you use google reader? I do and there is a setting to just see the first part of the post. The title and first couple sentences or so. I think if you want to occassionally read their blogs and maybe a post that isn't so hard for you this may help. You can skim the title and if it is not for you then don't read it. You can still be supportive from a distance but not IN IT.
and good for you for recognizing things that aren't healthy for YOU and your recovery and family.

eden said...

i don't think it's too dramatic at all to separate yourself from people or situations that make your recovery harder. just like you wouldn't suggest to a recovering alcoholic that he go hang out with his friends in a bar, you need to be wary of exposure to people/things that may be a trigger for you.

other than that thought... i've got nothing. but GOOD LUCK! you're really so inspiring with how you've come so far.

Heather Lindquist said...

I used to limit my contact with those still in deep with ED. I didn't completely ignore them (I'm not saying that's wrong, though), but I just was the one to initiate contact....on my terms. I think it's healthy to keep your distance, especially when you are still so new in recovery. Now, years later, I can read people's stuff and it doesn't trigger me, but yes, it still angers and even annoys me to an extent.

Could you let these FB friends know ahead of time that you're de-friending them not because you don't care, but because you are trying real hard to keep yourself in recovery, and it's sometimes hard reading their status updates? And maybe keep in touch through other means, and on your terms? I'm sure feelings will still be hurt, but ultimately, you are responsible for yourself, NOT them.

Tylaine said...
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Tylaine said...

You need to do what is best for you and your family. You gotta ask yourself if "this" friendship is dragging you down in any way or creating negativity for you. If the answer is yes then is that really fair to you or your family??
You gotta put your family first.
When I joined the church at 19 it was hard and there was a lot of opposition but if you want your life to go in a certain way and your past life is getting in the way of that then as hard as it is you have to let go!

Emi at Project Swatch said...

I read a ton of blogs when I was in my ED, though I never commented much. Now I read two.

I also have friends with EDs - made in treatment - and I just haven't been able to stay close to most of them. A couple, yes, but not most.

I've been doing well for a couple of years now. I think that staying out the of the ED world is critical to my recovery.

fabricsandfun said...

I am in the exact same place and this is what I did:
I completely deleted Facebook- a dramatic move but I needed to do it. I still get on under my husband's name occasionally but the ED stuff got to be suffocating for me and I needed a break.
In blogs, I stopped reading most of them once I realized that sometimes I would start to get sucked in. Like you, I have not been doing well for all that long but it is the longest in 12 years that I have done well. That being said, I know my recovery is still in a pretty early and fragile state compared to length and degree of sickness and I really don't want to fall again because of friends sucking me in. My blog has absolutely nothing to do with an ED and there is not even any mention of it because I wanted to really develop an identity and a circle of friends that were not anorexic (not that I don't love my friends from treatment, if you know what I mean?)
I hope this helps! Isn't the feeling of living freely and being able to be fully a wife and mother so much better than you could have imagined in the midst of ED?!?!

Marissa said...

You know how, when someone's drowning, you're not supposed to jump in and save them because they're flailing and panicking and not in their right mind and they'll drag you down too? And how instead you're supposed to throw a life preserver or let a trained professional--like a lifeguard--save them instead?

That's what I think.

I think that avoiding those triggers ('pew, pew') doesn't mean that you don't love those people. I think that it means that you love yourself MORE. And you need to, because you're freaking amazing. So, you know, do what you gotta do. Don't worry about what other people are going to think. I mean, I know this isn't a perfect metaphor, but someone who's a recovering alcoholic isn't gonna hang out in bars or spend the weekend with friends who are drinking. So spending time in ED-related blogs or with friends who are still immersed in self-destructive habits doesn't make sense for you, either.

Anyway, that's what I think. I don't know how easy it would be, to stay away from all those things, but I do feel like it makes the most sense.

JS said...

You're still fragile-- and you know what, it makes absolute sense in early recovery to be wholly intolerant of anything ED related. Because if you hadn't convinced yourself just how awful, wasteful, worst-thing-ever the ED was, you wouldn't have been able to make the incredible progress you have made. In early recovery I had to cut out a lot of people in my life-- and as I got further along, I was again able to be friends with/read fb updates of my friends who are compulsive dieters, overexercisers, etc, without having it be like nails on a chalkboard to me. Everybody who cares about you will appreciate the progress you've made and the trouble it's taken to get there, and how unbelievably precious it is. So they'll know why you have to do everything in your power to protect it. And people who don't get it, well, hopefully someday they'll make this journey to wellness, hit the same sticky spot you're in, and realize why you felt this way.


On a more practical note, you can modify your FB settings so that certain people do not show up in your newsfeed, and I've found that useful too [for general annoyances, not ED related stuffs].

Frustrated Unemployed Actress said...

Here is what I know, because I can only tell you what I know...

You're only responsible for your own recovery - not for anyone else's. And your first responsibility is to yourself and your own health so that you can be there for years and years for those beautiful kids of yours.

It's possible to detach and step away without abandoning people completely. As someone above said, you can hide FB posts without defriending people. You can take a break from reading certain blogs. You can engage less with the people who are still sick while letting them know that you still care about them. You can make certain topics - anything ED or weight-related, for instance - off-limits.

A friend of mine once explained to me the difference between doing what is nicest and doing what is kindest. Sometimes doing what is kindest - for someone else or for yourself - is really, really hard, but in most cases it's actually the better thing to do. Participating in someone else's eating disorder is not kind - it's enabling. The kinder thing to do, in the long run, is not to enable. Stepping away from a friend may not be nice, but it may be the kindest thing for both of you.

It's very difficult to be in recovery and watch others struggle, and if it's too much for you right now, I think you need to honour that and give yourself permission to maintain some distance.

Liz said...

Being in such a fragile place can be hard, it seems like anything could push you over the edge and drag you back into unhealthy habits. You might have to limit contact with these friends because you definitely don't want to be triggered. You have to do what is best for you. You should be so very proud of where you are and what you have accomplished.

Krista said...

I like Stacy's ideas of being supportive from a distance. I feel like I went through (and still continue to go through) that stage just a few months ago. It's understandable that you feel that way and in my opinion a very healthy realization.

Do you remember when a certain blogger defriended a bunch of other ED bloggers a few years ago because she said it was triggering to her? I think a lot of people were offended, but looking back now that I am in a healthier place it makes sense. The people who are sick might not understand why you need to distance yourself from them, but it might actually be the best way that you can support them. If you are able to really take care of yourself and make Brie happy, then you will stand as an example to them all.

The truth probably is that some of them will be hurt, but that doesn't mean what you did was wrong. You deserve to be happy and ED free. When I was in your spot I would catastrophize the outcome of distancing myself from certain people. To get passed that I had to tell myself that I was strong enough to handle whatever the outcome would be. I know you are strong enough to do what you need to do!

Remember that there is sooooo much more to the world that ED. It seems like when you finally take a big step away from it you realize just how much most people don't even concern themselves with that stuff.

Alie said...

I think it's great that you have the self-awareness and committment to recovery to know what's helping you and what's...not so helpful for you right now. I agree with the other comments about support at a distance. Ultimately, you need to do what's best and healthiest for you. Your friends should understand that if they truly want the best for you. Good luck to you!

KC said...

I relate and second what everyOne says about doing what's best for you. For me when I was "recovered past tense" for a year I pretty much stopped talking to everyone who had an eating disorder because I just couldnt handle it, it brought be down. Then after I relapsed I started getting irritated with people going on about how they had this perfect recovery after just a couple months and looking down on those who weren't there at the moment. BUT something that didn't change was I still couldn't really handle relationships with people who had eating disorders. I don't really like talking about them. I don't really relate to people about them. Even in therapy I talk about anxiety or trauma before I talk about eating disorders. I do talk to a very few people with eating disorders, but they are the ones with whom I had a friendship based on other things, and while the subjec isn't off limits we talk hardly at all about eating disorders. I've talked about eating disorders for a decade and im tired of it. I know that means a lot of people think I'm a jerk or hypocritical or a bad friend, but it's just what I have to do tO survive. I don't think I have a flawless recovery anymore but I still don't like to be around eating disorders. And my life is actually richer for it--I'm surrounded by people who bring me up because I have time for other relationships now. So I don't know that that helped, we haven't really talked in a couple years, but what I'm trying to say is I support you if you do what you gotta do, whether other people like it or not.

Erin said...

Do what you need to do.

I think disconnecting could be a really good thing. But just keep in mind that you were once in the same state as some of your friends. Have a little empathy maybe, but protect yourself at the same time.

alriggells said...

Fist off I want to tell you that this is a huge step in your journey to finding and being you :). Or at least I believe it is. Second off I feel like I can relate. I used to live in that eating disorder world and when I decided that I did not want it anymore I really struggled and honestly wanted to leave Utah because I felt like it was all here. I truly believe that my distance from all the behaviors has helped me a lot. Becoming friends with people who do not engage in behaviors, heading towards what would help me, and letting them know that I care by saying hi every so often because I do care. A relationship I valued so deeply was really hurt by my eating disorder and because of it and realizing that my relationships could not thrive being sick I grew from it and my journey has moved forward. I am friends with people how post on facebook about how sick they are and I have gotten to the point I do not facebook stock people anymore to see how they are, rarely read their updates, and have put a significant distance from them. I do not think it is saying you do not care, but rather leading by example. You can maybe tell them that you want to relate on things other than eating disorders and that you cannot save them, that you care, but you cannot save them. I think that was the greatest gift someone gave me. I do not know if that makes any sense. Hang in there, this is a hard transition.

alriggells said...
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alriggells said...

I love what Marissa said, not sure who she is, think she is your niece, but she said it so well with her analogy.

Shawnee said...

I wish I could help more. I guess my suggestion would be to imagine what you would have done when you were really sick if a friend de-friended you because it was bringing them down. If they really are friends, they should be sympathetic toward you and they should want you to be healthy and to recover. It's time for you to be healthy and happy - and it's so fantastic to see it happening! So surround yourself with those who want it for themselves as well.

Sairs said...

For me when I recovered, I had to un-follow every ED blog but a few and those ones I see the few sentences that show and if it looks negative, I don't read it. I also have an issue with those that don't try, although I was one of those once myself. I feel for them but I can't get close, it's too triggering. There is a girl in my group therapy that is very triggering and I find it hard to be in the same room with her. The good thing is I am graduating from group next week, so all that will be gone. YAY! I don't think what you are saying is unreasonable. When you are better and you see people that have ED's it makes you sad and it brings you down. Do what you want to do because I think deep down you know what you want to do, it's just sad and you worry about your friends. Anyway, good luck with this one, I hope you find your answer :)
Sarah

KC said...

100% agree!

bri said...

I couldn't be more proud of u! And to be honest I've been worried about u and am relieved to read this post. Although u do have a few months of amazing recovery u still need to be cautious and put ur self first. I love u and am ALWAYS here!!

Agrace12 said...

You need to do what is best for you and your health and your recovery. Limiting time right now does not mean ending anything. It may just mean a temporary separation. You may just need to see what works for you. You may also be exploring what your healthy world looks like?

hardlycreative said...

i think that during recovery time it is very important to take yourself out of the ED world. if you are a recovering alcoholic it is not a good idea to hang out in bars so why, if you have an eating disorder, would you hang out with people that are still actively involved in it? i am sure it is insanely hard to avoid those people/facebook posts and whatnot, but i think it is important to anyone's recovery to stay away from anything that could possibly trigger them and send them back into old habits. if people don't understand this you need to explain that you need to do what is best for you and your recovery. you need to take care of yourself first so you can take care of your family.

firefly said...

I think it depends on what you can handle and what is best for you. At different stages in recovery that means different things. If it means right now you need space. Take it. You can explain to people that you need to distance to that in order to protect your recovery you need some space right now. I know most people would be like who cares what others think do what is best for Bree's recovery. Maybe if you have certain friends that are struggling if they are really bothering tell them and give them a chance. Not sure there are any right answers here but putting Bree and recovery first. Also there are many individuals who have recovered. Maybe finding more people like that who knows where you've been and what's ahead may be good.I know sometimes it's hard to feel like you fit in. It seem the general population doesn't understand eating disorders. It surprises me how people just don't get it. Have you checked out mentorconnect? Also try cultivating other friendships. Maybe next year when you move join PTA at school. Hugs!!

lisalisa said...

I don't want to be the only critical commentor here but there was one thing in this post that really bothered me. Please be careful before you make the judgement that someone is sick to get attention. Even though it can often appear that way, we both know that eating disorders are complex psychological disorders and that the behaviors are only the tip of the iceberg.

Brandon said...

lisa, i wasn't insinuating that EVERY person who has an eating disorder is sick for attention. what i was insinuating was that there is a certain person in my life right now (none of you know her, that i'm aware) who is very blatantly doing eating disordered things for attention. i'm not going to say more than that there, because i want to protect her anonymity, but that was what i was referring to.

brie said...

apparently i was signed in as my husband - that last comment was actually me - brie.

Cammy said...

This is a hard issue. And just for the record, I think separating yourself from reminders of an unhealthy lifestyle is probably a good decision. At one point I was a part of a recovery forum that I was highly active/invested in, and made some good friends through, but realized that it was really keeping me down and stalling my own progress from recovery, and had to walk away from it for good. And I think it was absolutely the right thing to do, even though I did care about those people (and am still in touch with some of them, just in different formats).

You have put so much hard work into beating the ED, that it makes sense that the next step is to find something else to focus on and integrate into. You are amazingly brilliant, so I'd imagine you can pick anything you're interested in do well with it. I know you like writing (and are very talented at it), so maybe searching for some new groups or blogs or classes or what not can help you transition. It's hard to go cold-turkey from something (ED blogs) without a substitute to fill the space.

Whatever you decide, I hope you know that people who care about you just want you to be happy and healthy, and for you to do whatever is necessary to achieve that.

Katie said...

I've had to face a similar issue, though not in the social media world because when I was first deep into recovery, Facebook/Twitter/blogs didn't really exist as much. I did have friends who still engaged in disordered eating behavior, though, and I had to tell each of them that I cared about them and loved them very much, but I would no longer be discussing or practicing those behaviors. I lost more than a few friends. Eventually, some came around as they found their own way. Others, though, were lost to me (probably because the only thing we ever really had in common was disordered behavior).

Maybe a middle ground would be to stop visiting blogs and hide those friends from your Facebook feed so you can't see their updates all the time. However, for me, that wouldn't really have been a good solution. It's not like I set out to kick those friends out of my life, but at that time I did need to only be around people who honored my commitment to my health and with whom I could have normal, healthy relationships. Turns out, there was not much that was normal or healthy about my friendships with my ED buddies. Now that I have been in recovery for almost a decade, I really am able to process comments and actions related to ED in a healthy and balanced manner, but back then I definitely couldn't. And I felt badly about it at the time.

It sort of sounds like you're in the same boat I was in. There was no way that I could fully be there for my friends who were actively engaging in their eating disorders and maintain my own wellness. It was way too triggering for me. Even though it sucked at the time, I will never regret what I did. It was the only way I was able to stay on the right track and eventually become the happy, healthy person I am today.

Brittney said...

I think there are just some times in life where you have to focus on what YOU need in order to be the best person you can be. Maybe someday you will be far enough in your recovery to help those people you are talking about but I think it is ok to take a break from people sometimes. Good luck with everything.

Katie said...

I loved this post. When I was getting better from my eating disorder I too, had to distance myself from people who were still entrenched in theirs. I commend you for your decision to do the same because it shows you are committed to your recovery.

bri said...

I'm so proud of u Brie! U seize to amaze me. Hope u don't take this the wrong way but I was so worried about u for so many years and I can't help but think now if Brie can do it I know I can. Maybe I'm selfish but watching u strive and work Sooo hard towards recovery has helped me in mine. I love u for it and I love u for Sooo many other reasons too. Lol ;)

bri said...

Maybe I meant u never seize to amaze me lol. Now we know why youre the one with the blog not me.....I'm a crappy writer. ;)

bri said...

I'm sorry people were mean Brie. You're doing the right thing and I love u.