As I sit at my kitchen table crying as I eat spoonfuls of peanut butter, hating myself with every bite, but unable to stop, there are only a few people I can turn to.
No, those people aren't my parents, or my housemates, or teammates, or even my therapist.
My parents would tell me it's okay, and that I'm beautiful. My housemates would just laugh about the time that they ate an entire box of cookies in a week. My teammates don't know I have an ED. And my therapist would talk about how relapse is a part of recovery and ask my how I'm feeling.
The people I turn to are the friends I made on pro-ana websites. I know that there is a lot of hate regarding the pro-ana community. But I would like to argue that this community actually does a lot of good. Firstly, it is the best place for me to go for understanding. Everyone on these websites knows exactly what you're going through. They are the least judgmental people out there. They know exactly what to say to help you feel better.
People with eating disorders live every day with monsters inside of their heads. Never would we wish this torture on anyone. Movies such as "starving in suburbia" make it seem like the pro-ana community is full of people who try to convince others to stop eating. Personally, I have never seen any website like that. We also don't teach each other how to purge. Every day, I see postings made by young girls and boys who want to lose weight, and ask how to starve themselves, or how to purge. And every day, I see all these questions answered with statements such as "don't go down this road", "having an ED is terrible, don't do this", or "try seeing a therapist now, before you get sucked into this awful cycle".
The pro-ana community also provides one very important thing to all people struggling with eating disorders. Safety. Now this may not seem to make sense. But when you struggle with an eating disorder, you're engaging in unhealthy eating habits. One of these unhealthy habits is purging. I asked my doctor once about how to purge in the safest way possible. I know all the risks, and I am doing everything I can to reduce my purging. However, I'm not perfect. I don't expect to recover overnight. So when I do purge, it is important for me to know how to purge safely. Before I discovered the pro-ana community, I didn't know that brushing you teeth immediately after purging causes the acid to wear into your teeth. Or that using a toothbrush to purge increases the risk of choking. Of course, my doctor never told me these things. When I asked her about "purging safety" she looked at me and said, don't do it. Well it's not that easy.
I'm not saying the pro-ana community is perfect. Yes, sometimes it can be triggering. But it has honestly helped me through so many hard times, it's scary to think where I would be without it. Please open your minds before you judge a community you don't understand.
I have wrongly named this community. After spending a lot of time online, I realized that the support I was getting was from the eating disorder support community NOT the pro-ana community. The pro-ana community is quite different and actively encourages people to starve. What I am talking about here is the eating disorder support community.