Belonging is a basic human need. Each one of us needs to have a sense that we’re part of a community, whatever that community may be. This is no different for those of us with eating disorders. However, how helpful is it to be a part of an eating disorder community?
When I was in treatment, the camaraderie I felt was certainly helpful for my progress. It was comforting to know that others were experiencing the same thoughts and feelings I was. To some extent, I felt like I belonged with them.
However, eating disorder thrive on comparison and competition, which can become exacerbated when you’re trying to recover and live in eating disorder based community at the same time.
While it can helpful when beginning your recovery, at some point, hanging out in the eating disorder community can drag your recovery down. You might be doing well and making progress, but hearing about other people’s worry and struggles can make your eating disorder brain angry all over again.
Soon, your progress might like the opposite of progress when you compare it to people who are still struggling. The eating disorder comparison brain comes back out and attacks you for trying that new food or going out to eat with friends last weekend.
So, do you need to drop all your friends in recovery? Maybe, but maybe not. In the beginning of your recovery, you might really need them. You might really need that community now. But keep constantly evaluating whether or not your eating disorder community is helping your recovery progress, or if it’s beginning to lead you down a dangerous road of comparison.
And what about social media?
But what about social media community? Social media has actually been a key player in my recovery. I will readily admit that. Sharing my progress via Facebook or Instagram has spurred me on and keeping in touch with other warriors has helped me feel less isolated and alone.
Nonetheless, the eating disorder social media community is not without pitfalls too. Like an “in person” community, it’s easy to fall into the trap of comparing yourself to others when on social media. Like I said, eating disorders thrive on comparison. And with social media, you don’t even have to leave the comfort of your couch to find thousands of people to compare yourself to.
Am I telling you to delete your recovery account ASAP? No, not necessarily. It can be very helpful to identify as part of the ED community online. However, it’s also important to be aware of the risks involved. It might be a good idea to take a break for a few days, or even a week. See if you feel more peaceful.
So, warriors, community is important! But make sure your community is bringing you closer to your goals, not keeping your from reaching them.