Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Intervention

Palmtreechick, over at Just Babbling, recently forwarded me a Google search that landed a reader on her site. The search? "How to be anorexic." I got to thinking about what I would say to this (likely young, female) reader if I had the opportunity to chat with her, how I, armed with all my information and training, would probably still feel powerless, as I tried to address what feels like preliminary step down a long and winding road. Or, is it preliminary? Is the die cast, the story just unfolding?

I find myself humbled by the disempowerment of language, when up against a daunting, persuasive disease. Yet, if there's a question, then there's uncertainty and hopefully some room to move.

What would you say?

11 comments:

PalmTreeChick said...
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PalmTreeChick said...

I was obviously saddened by the search, that's why I sent it on to you.

First, I feel badly that someone actually wants an answer to that, though I'm sure some of the google searches I've done haven't been that different.

Also, I don't want MY blog to show up with the search words "How to be anorexic." I know I don't talk about how to be anorexic so that makes me feel better, I just don't want to contribute negatively to anyone's health/life.

Anonymous said...

Believe it or not, I actually am encouraged by one thing- if the person truly has to ask HoW, perhaps they are not at all anorexic and are just desperate to be thin and "envious" of those who don't eat. So, the person is probably still reachable.
But, unfortunately, I am at a total loss as to what to say. It would be good if someone like Dr. Stacy could engage them in a dialogue, as to why they are asking that question, and try to make them see that it wouldn't buy them happiness. Having never had even the remotest desire along those lines, I cannot begin to relate.

disordered girl said...

I tend to agree with anonymous, this person is probably looking for ways to lose weight and needs to be provided with more effective tools and support asap.

It's troubling though. I read all kinds of sites about the health risks of purging when I started but it didn't matter. The desire to be thinner was too strong, despite all I was already doing in regards to diet and exercise. And even now I still don't want to be talked out of it when the urge sets in. It's dreadfully powerful.

NB said...

I believe that while an individual who is searching for "how to be anorexic" may not yet be engaged in these behaviors, the act of searching the internet for ways to pursue unhealthy, extreme weight loss indicates that she/he is likely having disordered thoughts/urges. Maybe these individuals will be "lucky" enough to stumble on some of the sites that talk about all the harm that eating disorders cause. However, it is more likely, that once they reach the point where they are looking online for specific directions and hints, this type of site (where the harms are discussed) will not dissuade them from experimenting with unhealthy behaviors. Fortunately for some who do try what they read on the internet, it won't develop into an eating disorder.

But there is also an underlying assumption made about who is conducting the searches on "how to be an anorexic." I believe that individuals with eating disorders who are actively using their symptoms (eating disordered behaviors) also search the web for tips and ways to hide their disorder. Maybe these individuals do it more for support and a sense of community, even if it's unhealthy, since eating disorders can be so isolating. Furthermore, I think that as part of the relatively unspoken higherarchy of eating disorders, those with ed-nos and bulimia are searching for ways in which to become anorexic. I don’t have any insight to offer on how to help these individuals who are trolling the internet to further entrench themselves in their eating disorder.

I, as you can see, am very pessimistic about the abuse of the internet in this manner. However, I also believe that individuals who are truly motivated to achieve recovery can use the support available in the online communities (and there certainly is!) but there are (just like in life) a whole lot of obstacles. I guess I feel like the internet makes things so much less personal, and in doing so, makes it so much more difficult to effectively intervene. I think the lost "connectedness" only makes it that much harder....

I wish I could offer a more positive outlook and concrete interventions.

p.s. I hope that none of my language/word choice offended anyone. If so, I apologize to you.

Haley-O said...

No, I'm not comforted by this search at all. It does NOT mean that s/he is not already anorexic. S/he is definitely in the mindset of an anorexic, searching for more ideas on how to "do it." It's very scary. I love Palmtreechick, and I tell her what "I would say" all the time: you need to fix this. this is a sign, Palm. That's what I'd say. If my comments aren't enough to make you seek help, maybe this google search is? Palm's totally awesome, by the way. She doesn't want anyone to suffer from EDs. And, she resists her own diagnosis constantly. But, I would also say: there are a lot of ideas on your site for eating less, hiding your food at meals, what to do on vacations.... That's what I'd say. I'd say this is a wake up call. It says more than any of us can say. Palm you rock as a person. Please lose the scale and be good to yourself....

PalmTreeChick said...

I had another search "I want to starve myself."

drstaceyny said...

ptc--it is sad, and you seem to have noble intentions.

anon--yes, there might be some room to move.

dg--you're right, it is.

nb--some v. good points. . .

haley--good points.

ptc--you'll probably get many more. . .

TeleTechGeek said...

That is a pretty sad state of affairs. Unfortunately it's not even remotely uncommon.

And more importantly, NO YOU SHOULD NOT BE COMFORTED. Even if someone is searching for tips on how to be anorexic, and isn't actually yet... isn't it just a symptom of a sick little girl? I would be no more comforted by a girl searching for tips on where to cut. The inention is every bit as bad as the action.

And take it from someone who found the sites, and who was and is sick... she'll find one. And yours might be the first... it might be food for thought. But it won't persuade her not to do it.

It's really sad to think that even Dr. Stacey's blog has probably been stalked a good bit by women looking for news... any news, helpful or not, is still something to do instead of eating... on the eating disordered world.


But this is a great blog Dr. S. :) I've really enjoyed reading so far.

Anonymous said...

This blog is going to be very helpful to those who need it. I personally enjoyed it; but it did not convince me to stop what I am doing...

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