And he thought the best way to treat an eating disorder is with a part of what the pro-ana chatrooms and forums offer: community. Just a community where people don't talk about avoiding toothpaste for the half-calorie they might swallow.
"On one level what works is people not feeling alone and feeling cared for and heard and knowing how to get a sense of accomplishment outside of my eating disorder."
And maybe a little less of this, too.
Victoria’s Secret Not helping, Victoria's Secret. Not. Fucking. Helping.
Post Script: Shortly after the final draft of this article was finished, Sarah reached back out to us with an update on her life: "...I'm currently being voluntarily hospitalized for my eating disorder. I'm no longer an admin at that or any chatroom. I don't visit that site or any thinspo sites anymore, and I'm active in some local chapters of mental health advocacy. They know about my past and are non-judgemental - they're actually using my 'expertise' to try and infiltrate and fight harmful pro-ana communities in more effective ways. I don't know if recovery will stick this time, but I'm trying to commit to it fully after I had a few seizures a month or so after we spoke.
I left a message on the old room once I got out of the hospital for the seizures and tried to shut the chat down. Unfortunately, the original admin was called in by some users, and I am now aware that it's being run with a full force of new administrators and mods. I'm blocked, so I can't tell you what it's like now, and I can no longer reach out to any of my friends there, though I doubt they'd be interested in speaking with me at this point. Going into recovery tends to be allowed, if a bit looked down upon, but trying to cut these girls off from each other? That's a crime you don't really get forgiven for.
I'm still ambivalent about the pro-ana community. I maintain that it does a lot of good, but I realize now just how harmful it is on the surface and at its core. I certainly feel guilty for taking a position of 'leadership' in it, especially as an adult. I just can't think of a better alternative for those who refuse to seek real help.
Best of luck, Sarah.
The National Eating Disorder association attempts to help people like Sarah. Maybe check 'em out.
Robert Evans wrote a book about how partying, douchebaggery and hard drugs built human civilization. Buy it, maybe?
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