The Pro-Ana Movement – What the hell is going on?

This article is written by  Helen Butcher and she’s asked me to share it here to help bring awareness for this terrible illness, and the harm this can do to both sexes.

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Pro-Ana’ Movement – What On Earth Is Going On?

In a former life, I worked in mental health services. It was a job which wrenched my heart on a regular basis, and frequently made me very angry with the incompetency of society in general (and health service managers in particular [1]) when it came to mental health. But I never got frustrated with the patients themselves. Until, that is, I came across the ‘Pro-Ana’ phenomenon.

‘Pro-Ana’, if you’re not familiar with the term, is short for ‘Pro-Anorexia’. ‘Ana’, for some of the movement’s adherents, is a kind of goddess – a deified personification of weight loss and beauty. Her devotees willingly sacrifice their meals, their sanity, and (sadly) their lives in her service. The ‘Pro-Ana’ community offers its members ‘thinspiration’ over the internet, including extreme tips on calorie elimination, and advice on how to hide one’s eating disorder from friends and family.

This is where it gets weird. ‘Pro-Ana’ individuals are frequently all too well aware of the fact that they’re ill. They KNOW that they have an eating disorder, they KNOW that it’s making them miserable, and they KNOW that they are putting their health in extreme danger. This isn’t something unique to pro-anas. Many people with eating disorders know that something is wrong but nonetheless shy away from getting anorexia or bulimia treatment [2]. Pro anas, however, wear their disease as a badge of honor [3]. They are proud of their illness, and will do all that they can to advance it. Pictures are posted on forums of jutting clavicles, stick-thin thighs, hollow cheeks, and drumskin bellies. These pictures are in turn torn to pieces by the frequently vicious community, who pick out imagined imperfections and exhort the posters to go to even more dangerous dietary extremes.

Which brings me back to my frustrations.

I could kind of understand the Pro-Ana movement. If I worked at it, I could frame it as a method of coping for mentally ill people – a way of presenting their illness to themselves in a manner which meant that they did not have to feel weak and humiliated by it. While I did not necessarily approve of the method, I understood the motive, and could assimilate it into my non-judgemental view of their illness as a symptom. Indeed, some ostensibly Pro-Ana sites do come from more of a ‘moral support’ angle than an ‘encouraging anorexia’ angle – and that’s kind of laudable when done properly [4]. Where I fell down, however, was on the treatment meted out to other sufferers within the community. Eating disorders are dangerous enough on their own. Many of the eating disorder patients I saw had horrendous trouble drowning out the repetitive thought-cycles in their own heads, which poured scorn and loathing upon them. To have this internal chorus reinforced by the sufferer’s contemporaries on the internet put a lot of my patients in very real danger of death.

I remember one patient in particular – let’s call her ‘Sally’. At the age of sixteen, when Sally should have been studying for her GCSEs, she was instead going back and forth between mental health units, hospital, and her family home. She had anorexia, and – as is so often, sadly, the case – it had not become apparent to her loved ones until her extreme weight loss became noticeable. Generally, by this point the disease has quite a hold upon the patient. This was certainly the case with Sally. However, while in our mental health unit, Sally displayed a willingness to recover which was unusual in anorexia patients. She made determined efforts to eat, and participated to her fullest capacity in our therapies. This gave us a lot of hope. With this kind of attitude, there was no reason why she could not make a full recovery and live a long and happy life. Yet every time she was discharged, she was hospitalised and then sent back to us within months.

What on earth was going on?

Basically, every time Sally was discharged, she’d head straight online. She was seeking support from those who were experiencing the same kind of thing as she was – perhaps tips on how to get healthy. But what she found was her own disease, given voice and writ large across the internet. Her efforts to defeat anorexia were screamed down with extreme vitriol, her body derided as fat and unattractive, her whole life picked apart by the community she thought would help her. Yet she kept on going back. Someone that deep into self-loathing will do anything to gain a sense of ‘tribe’ – even if their chosen ‘tribe’ is almost literally destroying them from the inside out.

Needless to say, I was horrified at the extent of the damage fellow sufferers can willfully inflict upon one another [5].

Sally’s story has a reasonably happy ending. Once her parents discovered what was going on, they began to monitor her internet usage closely, and sent her to a therapist who specialises in helping young adults have a healthier relationship with social media. Sally is on the road to recovery – although it’s likely to be a long journey for her, and the years of anorexia have taken an undoubted toll on her health.

For the hundreds of eating disorder sufferers who get lured into these Pro-Ana forums, however, it may well be a very different story. And that troubles me. It troubles me greatly.

[1] Daniel Boffey, “Leaked report reveals scale of crisis in England’s mental health services”, The Guardian, Feb 2016

[2] Bulimia, “Bulimia Treatment”

[3] Sarah Rainey, “Secretly Starving”, The Telegraph, 2013

[4] Mandie Williams, “Unpopular Opinion: Pro-Ana Websites Were A Positive Influence In Helping Me Recover From My Eating Disorder”, XOJane, Apr 2014

[5] Geraldine McKelvie, “Revealed: Scots student tells how he starved himself to the brink of death after being bullied by anorexia trolls”, Daily Record, Aug 2013

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Our books are not free!

The biggest event on facebook, I’ve seen in a while! and it starts soon!

https://www.facebook.com/events/206705409792190/

Sorry facebook for the double tap. Well worth it I think. 🙂

I’ve had the best time since we launched TSK’s second book in December, with a really well laid out plan of attack and some well-placed blogs and adds, we’re doing okay, sales and KU reads are really steady! and I’m proud of that.

But in the launch I did what most authors do, I had giveaway prizes. I love and will always love doing things for others if they REALLY want them, but I gave away between 2 events over 16 audiobooks, out of those prize winners only 6 actually have claimed their books.

These books cost a tonne of money to produce, and each gift costs around $20 or £20 (we’re almost even in cash value)

So I gave away £200 worth of goods, that no one really wanted.

So when a facebook friend decided enough was enough and she shared her idea on this event, I fully supported her, and I’m very proud of the gathering that is involved with this event.

Writing is not easy, it’s fun… sure.

It can be highly stressful too.

It is expensive.

To compete in the real world we have to pay out for many things.

Editing,

Cover art…

Proofing.

Marketing.

Our time is worth something.

Yet, all the time, artists and not just in the writing world are berated and asked for stuff for free.

My other qualm was before my book launch in December I took part in a big event for a $100 amazon gift card. We gathered email addresses for our mailing lists, which was fab.

However in January and up to date, because I gave my email address in, I’ve had over 350 emails, with authors GIVING books away for free 😦

I am very saddened by this, and it has to stop.

We are worth it!

Our time is worth it. You as a reader want hour after hour of entertainment, right?

But you won’t pay more than 2.99 ?

What’s that coffee cost you there, that you’re drinking? how much is that barista on per hour?

Yeah, you get my point, right?

I love my readers, and I love my fans, the comments and notes I get all over social media make my day, but I have to eat, I have to put a roof over my head.

Hugs to you all, and I really, really hope you guys will support this fab event.

I’ve got spending money tonight! So I’m going to buy some amazing books from some of these fabulous authors!

 

A sad day ~ hugs

Today we’re heading over to Whales for a Family Funeral. It has been a long hard month with loads of other complications, and life niggles, as it usually happens, always in 3’s or 6’s for us. But it’s especially hard over the holidays and in naturally the hardest month of the year. Today might be difficult for everyone, but it will be good to remember things and of course put other things to rest.

Families can be one of the hardest things to have around you, or not around you. It doesn’t mean you aren’t family though or that they don’t cross your mind.

So, on that note, hug everyone close to you, tell them you love them and remember all the good things about everyone who was and is close.

x x x

Healthy-Happier me!

 

For some that follow my blog, trigger warning needed so please don’t read – weight mentions. But, I am in happy place, not an ED related place.

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It was great to go out yesterday and was positive in its results. So for some things to move forward I am keeping my fingers crossed.

What was really interesting was I bumped into a customer of mine from a few years ago, and although she thought she recognised me, it wasn’t till I spoke about my job that she went. ‘I thought that was you’ and then added ‘Haven’t you lost weight’

Totally one of the best things you can here when you’ve had some tough times over the holidays.

So yeah, in 2015 I reached my target of 83kg. I kept it off for almost 12 months, but sadly last year was really difficult and I rose back to 91kg.

So yes, I do have a new goal to reach (75kg)  it will take me back to where I am comfortable, not what I left Cheadle Royal at, which was over my usual weight. So I’m taking it easy, back on Lipotrim, with the support of my family and friends. and taking it one day at a time. 🙂

I am on day 7 already and feeling so much better. The initial detox (especially after all the booze in the hols) was hard, I had a headache all week, but it’s gone now, and today I feel amazing.

For everyone who has a goal this year, be it a new year’s resolution or just something you want to do. I wish you all the luck in the world. I will update as and when I can, and fingers crossed my new goal isn’t too far off… hehe

~ Dawn

Happy New Year – Onwards

I’ve kinda been putting off this sort of post, because the last two months have been so hard. As usual sometimes the only thing that keeps us going is the day to day normality of life, and the wonderful people around us.

But, there comes that time when you realise that sometimes it’s just not enough.

Christmas always brings with it reflection and makes you feel so much more, and this year has certainly not been the best.

As a moderator on some of the best groups on facebook one of the worst things with social media is finding out about an accident involving a loved one. This is something we’ve had to strive to fight off because it’s so easy to push that button and post a picture.

Then there’s this other side, that your lifes in a public setting and everyone and anyone can eventually find you. Yes, I get my fair share of stalkers too. Sometimes so many, and you get fed up of the Direct Messages, or naughty pictures ahah. Instant delete and block on facebook and twitter. Those internet sites will never change.

We were told through facebook over the holidays that my husbands brother had passed away. His estranged family contacted him through facebook. He doesn’t do facebook and it was a weird thing because I don’t often check out his profile. Moments after the message had been delivered, I got the same message through on ‘requests’ on my own page.

I don’t need to say anything, and I won’t. A life lost is a shame, and we’re in shock and mourning. Though once again it makes you realise that not everything is as it should be and that you need a kick up the backside to do something about it.

I won’t make any new years resolutions, I just plan on ‘doing’ I already spent my time over the holidays looking at new things to do with my life. There are some very good opportunities around my local area at the moment, and fingers crossed that will be one thing that will make some very nice changes for me, and my family.

So with a little luck on my side, and a positive attitude, I am looking forward to 2017 and no matter what the next month brings. Will deal with it the best way I can.