Inside Look at Pro Eating Disorder Online World
- Category: Coping Strategies
Both are part of NPR's valiant effort to bring awareness to the public about pro ana (supporting anorexia) and pro mia (supporting bulimia) websites. It features a website created by Melissa Cox called Ana Death.
Reaching pro mia and pro ana people
Melissa was anorexic and a self admitting almost addict to the proana sites until she got into recovery. She is a loving and powerful voice for recovery. Perhaps her efforts, based on caring, gratitude for recovery and dedication to living a healthy life can reach others who seem to be lost in the vast sea of sacrificing their lives and souls for their eating disorder.
To reinforce what I hope most people now appreciate, eating disorders are dangerous illnesses with a high mortality rate. Eating disorders are not a matter of being okay or beautiful and then you die. Eating disorders ravage your body, your brain cells, your thinking, your emotional stability, your work, your relationships, your family, your bank balance, your education, your ability to learn. In other words eating disorders erode your existence until they complete the job and you are eroded out and die.
Pro Ana and Pro Mia sites: are you in one?
If you participate in a pro eating disorder community then please know, you are supporting and participating in communities of people who unite to support mutual destruction, with pride, love, religious fervor, courage and determination. You are in a community where people help each other ignore the feelingsof anyone else, hide your behaviors, lie about your behavior and your motives.
Yes, you lie to physicians, psychotherapists, friends, family, spouses, children, co-workers to hide your illness and your determination to remain ill. You lie to your mother, your grandmother and your best friend. You lie to yourself about your lying. You will be frightened or furious or both if your lies are discovered.
The pro eating disorders sites may be the only places in the world where you can be honest. That may be one of the strongest reasons for the existence of these sites. They provide a place where a person dedicated to sustaining their eating disorder and getting better at starving or purging can relieve themselves of the stress from lying and pretending to be something they are not. You gladly help each other to die.
The binding force that keeps people connected to the pro ana and pro mia sites reminds me of the zeal that keeps people in cults. Fear tactics, clear information, offers of recovery help don't have much positive effect on the pro eating disorder population. If they have to choose between nurturing a relationship or nurturing their eating disorder, they will choose to support their eating disorder.
They will get sympathy and praise from their fellow members of proana or promia sites for their sacrifice. My colleagues in the eating disorder recovery field have long discussed, suffered, been angry, bewildered, frustrated and worried about the existence of these sites.
First Amendment issues come up right alongside the issues of health and safety. Internet hosting companies shut these sites down, but they spring up immediately someplace else.
A danger exists in even visiting these sites because increased readership will give them a boost in their ratings. They move up the list in an internet search which makes them more easily findable.
Thank you, NPR, Alex Cohen and Melissa Cox I applaud NPR for bringing greater awareness of this situation to the public. I applaud Alex Cohen for writing a balanced and thorough article. And I applaud Melissa Cox for doing her best as a former pro ana insider, to provide an exit for people who may not know they still have a choice to be healthy and well.
If you ever have been part of the pro ana or pro mia online communities and got into recovery, please write in and share your story. Your story may open someone's eyes and mind. You may save a life. You may save your own.