Saturday, 21 May 2011

what to look for in a 'helpful' website

okay. I went to bed last night pretty cross and upset. I've learned a lot about myself lately, and one of those things is that I don't let things go! Some one 'stronger' would just move on, but I'm going to ruminate about something that has upset me for hours (if not days).

So let's do something productive with all that rumination, shall we?

Here's a checklist I've compiled to help me evaluate a website the next time I go searching for advice in unfamiliar territory:

how does it look?
is it splashy and overly produced? yes - chances are they are trying to sell you something (even if it's just selling their treatment facility).
proceed with caution - it does not mean that their advice will be bad or wrong (it could be exceptionally helpful) - but it does mean it will most likely be one-sided.

triggering photos? 
yes - close the window down immediately!
Do not even give it a second glance. If they are thoughtless and/or unknowing enough to add these sorts of embellishments to their advice, then you don't want their advice. It smacks of lack of understanding, and most likely their advice will too.
Even I - who knows nothing about recovery - knew enough not to put photos which even I found triggering on my yoga post (and believe me there are some fab ones!) -- check these pics out tho', they are so cute!!

Who was this written by?
- Are they an ED specialist? Think carefully, there can be a world of difference between a dietician and a nutritionist. Do they work in private practice or are they representing a treament facility? Will they give you unbiased advice?
- Or perhaps it is written by someone recovered/recovering? This can be a tricky one. You might find this one of the best resources you come across (like Carrie's or Laura's), but if it's just an online journal of their recovery (you know, like my blog :)) then proceed with caution - it is just their opinion and will most likely be onesided and may not be based in science and may not be consistent.
- A big red flag for me is when they proudly tout that they recovered without the aid of doctors. I feel bad enough about asking for help without having someone rub it in my face that they are stronger (and inherently better) than me. So thanks, but no thanks.

what does your gut say?
Go with your gut - I knew last night that I was in the wrong place, but I soldiered on because I thought I would find some answers. But don't ignore that gut feeling. Even if I had found answers, they most likely would not have been the answers for me, because that quite clearly was not the website for me.
Even a considered, qualified, and well-balanced opinion may not be the one for me - you have to feel a connection to the author for an article to be helpful. I like straight forward, scientific and proactive writing - but that's just me. If something works for you, if it moves you forward in your recovery - if it 'feels' right - then it is probably the place for you. Follow or get the RSS feed for that site so you don't lose it!

Having said all that, this is the first time I have come across a site I felt could actually set back my recovery - everything else I have read has been caring and considered, and on the whole helpful.
Check out my list of bloggers I trust (on my left side bar) for a good place to start :)

anything to add? let me know if you've come across anything you found upsetting or triggering and I'll add it to the checklist! thx :)


M said...

So very true! Helpful the way you've processed it too.

I was in a group day program for 8 weeks - one thing my GP warned me about beforehand was how I could be triggered by the other women on the program. We openly talked about it in group sessions (on the other hand, their were lessons I learnt from their experiences that gave me tools for handling difficult situations and overcoming other Ed behaviors). There were rules about no Ed behavior when eating for the sake of others. I wasn't allowed to drink hot water - I don't like tea or instant coffee - because that was seen as an Ed behavior!

But something that one of the psychologistssaid about triggers helped me: she said 'you might be triggered by something, but you still choose where to point the gun'. What she was getting at was that we can't live in a world with no triggers at all. Early in recovery we need to avoid them all we can- stopping looking at pro-ana sites for example, avoiding meals with people who constantly talk about calories, size and shape, surrounding ourselves with healthy images. But we can't avoid them altogether, because we don't control our environment! We'll still see the covers of magazines where people have lost half of their body weight or some other celebrity body shaming. But as we grow in understanding and recognition of those triggers, we can stop pointing the gun at ourselves and responding by using Ed behaviours. Instead we can recognize the triggers and talk about it, or journal, or turn off the computer, or listen to some calming music while painting our nails.

I still get triggered when friends skip meals. I want to stamp my feet and say it's not fair or else be allowed to do the same. Yet I'm choosing health, so I eat anyway, even when the constant hum in my head tells me not to, as well as other really horrible things.

PJ said...

completely agree with what you're saying about triggers being unavoidable (magazine covers etc) - but I guess in a way you are prepared for those. this was so unexpected that my guard was down. A good reminder to be constantly vigilent!

HikerRD said...

Even those of us in the know are guilty of saying things that are triggering!(so you should avoid the last paragraph of my Halo post, apparently) Perhaps there will always be triggering messages and images, and avoidance is, as you state, quite wise and necessary. But arming yourself, as M points out, can make the difference. Catching your thoughts, your reactions to the trigger and reframing it (the old CBT) can really help.

PJ said...

Thx @hikerRD for the warning - but I did not find that post a problem at all. I could see from the outset that it's focus was more for someone struggling from an issue of overeating. There's a difference between information being advertised as relevant and then being triggering and information that is just written to help a different problem. And your posts are always written with such care :)

azhe'n said...

i went back in a saner moment two weeks ago and rewrote some things in a post i had written because i try so friggin hard NOT to trigger anyone. i'm sure i don't always succeed but yep, this is something i am conscious of and have even dedicated my own post to what i find highly annoying about 'supposed' recovery blogs/sites.
i know i'm sensitive but come on? isn't some stuff just OBVIOUS?

PJ said...

totally agree @azhe'n - when a website is being run by supposed experts and they don't even have the understanding not to put numerous thinspiration-style pics on their home page (including a whole raft of those celebrity ones). Yes! some stuff should just be obvious!
It's completely unfair to invite someone in distress to their website promising answers and then deepen that distress with inappropriate images and words.

Lucy said...

Hey just found your blog and I already found your first post and started reading about you, I wish you the best of luck with your recovery, I'm recovering myself. This post was really good, I think I ignore my gut feeling too often :/

Katie said...

Blimey, I hope you've never seen my blog - I have a massive section named "DIY recovery" ;) I don't do it to rub the fact that I recovered largely by myself in anyones face, it's because where I lived there was very, very little in the way of treatment. Sometimes, for whatever reason, people can't find the support the need, and I want them to know that things aren't hopeless if they can't afford or travel to a good team. Of course it's better to have proper support, and I would advocate that people do it alone, it's just unavoidable sometimes. I'm sorry you see that as a red flag, I am a nice person really!

Katie said...

LOL. I meant I would NOT advocate that people do it alone. That was the most ironic typo ever.

M said...

Helpful clarification for me PJ - I'd forgotten to take account of just how unhelpful those unexpected triggers are. And you are so right that sites that are directed at recovery should be safe places to go to that are obvious trigger free. Although I do still think that it is helpful to remind ourselves (and I say that because I need to be reminded too) that whatever the triggers are, expected or not, I still have power over how I respond. Looking forward to a retrained brain that doesn't automatically go to the unhelpful thought first, but thankful for the nutrition that has enabled me to recognize and begin to respond differently.

PJ said...

@Katie - thx so much for your perspective on this - I'm sure you're a gorgeous person!!
Like I said, this is only a red flag for *me* - it is only what works (and doesn't work) for me. I'm so sorry that you had to do it alone because of your circumstances and you should be *really* proud of your efforts. Perhaps I should come and see your blog - maybe I can be persuaded my fears are misplaced :)PJ