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Why It Is Hard To Deal With An Eating Disorder On Twitter–The Negative Influence Social Media Has on Your Mental Health

Inside the complicated world of eating disorders, there’s a Twitter community that I’m currently desperately trying to alienate myself from because it is seemingly the cause of my deteriorating mental health. The community consists of: males, females, adults, teenagers, preteens, people of all ethnicities and backgrounds. To emphasise, the community consists of everybody–just in case the person reading this may believe that only white hormonal teenage girls can suffer from eating disorders. Now the ridiculous stereotype is obliterated, imagine finding a space on Twitter where people have the same warped mindset as you. Initially, it is enticing as these people think exactly like you do and therefore understand you. However, the truth is that the worse thing you can do your mental health is satisfy the twisted cravings of the (as I bluntly call mine) demons inside your mind.

I accidentally stumbled upon the eating disorder side of Twitter one day after somebody I followed started retweeting various tweets about losing weight. They probably will never even know that their tweets lead me down a dark and dangerous spiral–they might not even realise they’re experiencing a disordered way of thinking themselves. Not that I can blame anybody apart from myself for how I am, I only stand by the tweets from whom I followed being my trigger. Once I discovered this world of tricks and hacks, I became addicted to a world of water fasting and counting calories. In this Twitter space, users share how to lose weight dangerously fast and share dangerously alarming thinspos. Also known as pictures of people with a ridiculously low weight that users then look to as inspiration. Upon first seeing the photos, I was amazed why anybody would want to look like that because it wasn’t healthy and then soon, others people’s thoughts merge into your own. The thing with social media is that it can be remarkably easy to lose your own views in the midst of trying to appease everybody in efforts to not get involved in any social media spats. And that’s what I did, I lost myself inside this toxic community.

First, it was little things. For example, I would refuse to drink my calories because I found calories too precious to be used up by liquids when I could instead drink water for zero calories. Then, I began to burn off any calories I consumed that day, obsessively counting each one. Soon enough, I cut my calories from an average of 1,800 to a startling 500 per day in efforts to drop the extra pounds. Over the course of less than five months, I lost 20 kilograms by getting sucked into the disordered Twitter world. With that came dizzy spells, severe lack of colour in my skin, more clumps of hair than normal coming out in the hairbrush and all around exhaustion. One occasion that perhaps sticks in my mind clearly is when I collapsed one Saturday morning in front of my parents when I stood up from the couch. None of those side effects mattered to me though. I didn’t care I was starving my body and wrongly restricting it of the nutrients it needed, I only wanted to be accepted into the Twitter community. One thing I wanted more than anything was to be thin, to be thin enough to be given a second glance when I was standing next to my beautiful friends. Looking back, I don’t think that was even me thinking, some accounts would actually tweet things along the lines of “you don’t want to be the fat friend” as a way of encouraging the disorder. Before reading those tweets, I don’t think any thoughts along those lines genuinely ever crossed my mind. Suddenly, it was the only thing I could think about and I couldn’t unview it now. In a way, the Twitter world indoctrinated me into a rather unhealthy mindset.

Not that I am better yet, but I have had a wake up call. Recently, my period stopped arriving and–as a young female–that is terrifying. The thought of never being able to have children looming over me is awful (the look on my mum’s face when I told her about how it hadn’t arrived for a few months now is still etched into my mind.) Of course, it could come back. It might not be gone forever, but it was what lead me to realising that I couldn’t eternally skip out on two meals a day or flush half of my meal down the toilet for eternity. As much as I was thriving from the results on the outside, I was destroying my body on the inside.

As of March, I haven’t found it in me to deactivate the account I created purely for the eating disorder side of Twitter and I am still counting calories and still waiting for the day my period arrives again. On the other hand, I am now inactive and trying to work towards combining eating tasty foods with eating the right amount of food. I still have good days with food and I still have bad days with food and I am by no in any stage of recovery yet, but I am making progress on distancing a world that only fed my “demons.” To me, the hardest step when making progress with your mental health is cutting ties with the overwhelming influence of social media.

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