8 May 2012

Dear Recovery Ninjas...A Little Note

Dear All, 

As I said in a tweet, I cannot express how upset, angry, disgusted and saddened by the recent change in ‘atmosphere’ on Twitter. A place I once felt happy and confident to share my recovery journey with people who truly understood the nature of eating disorders.

Through Twitter I was able to freely express my hurt, my struggles, my downs and of course, my successes along the way. The isolating and lonely nature of anorexia was slowly being broken down by a supportive timeline of people who understand how contradictory and confusing this illness is.

Since using my Twitter account as an additional tool in my recovery journey, I have crossed paths with many inspiring, wonderful and supportive people. Many of whom I now consider friends and some I know will remain friends long after we have made a full recovery. I am thankful every single day for the support they give me, the advice they share and the friendship they have offered.

I am still in what is probably considered the ‘early’ stages of my recovery and every day is a battle with my eating disorder. I am aware that some of my friends are further through this battle and some are even earlier in theirs. I am proud to say that the support from a range of people on Twitter has pushed me forward and kept me on track and I am thankful for their on-going belief.  I am not ‘recovered’ I am not yet a ‘survivor’ of this illness nor can I tell others how ‘recovered’ feels, I don’t know, I am not there yet. All I am is a fighter. I am fighting for my life and my future.

As a journalist and communicator who has worked for over 6 years in the media industry, I knew I needed to focus my attention to ways in which I could communicate my recovery, when I found it hard to vocalise my feelings, whilst helping others. I started to share snippets of my journey on this blog, I write poetry, I take pictures, I talk and I am part of the service user panel at my EDU. Finally, with two amazing ladies, Ally and Rachel, we joined our passion for raising eating disorder awareness and offering an alternative network in the ED community by setting up Team Recovery.

All at different stages of recovery and with our own stories, we put our heads together to come up with a pro-recovery project which we hoped would inspire, raise awareness and support people in their own unique recovery journeys. We were inspired by the growing support network forming on Twitter at the end of 2011, and knew that #RecoveryNinja tag was a new way of expressing a FIGHT against eating disorders; much in the same was as our American friends use the term #RecoveryWarrior.  The concept of being a Ninja and fighting eating disorders developed in to a brand we coined ‘Team Recovery’ and so the idea of POW was also developed to fit with the branding of a Ninja, Fighter, Warrior, Slayer in recovery.

During Eating Disorder Awareness Week 2012 we launched the ‘Team Recovery’ pro-recovery project with the strapline: “Calling all Recovery Ninjas! Help spread pro-recovery online with Team Recovery and give eating disorders some pow, because they CAN be beaten.” and a mission statement reading: “Giving eating disorders some POW by raising awareness, myth busting and increasing the presence of pro-recovery online. Team Recovery is a support network co-founded by Rachel Lauren Cowey, Sarah Robertson and Alice McPheason to help spread #ProRecovery on social networking sites after all three girls were fed up of the presence of pro-eating disorder sites online. Inspired by the ever-growing support network of 'Recovery Tweeters' and their on-going support and fights for freedom from eating disorders”

We are thankful to the ‘tweeters’ who contributed to the development of Team Recovery and the ideas they continue to put forward to help the project grow and the support they give Ally, Rachel and I. We have had a huge amount of positive feedback from people in recovery, from charities and from a range of  professionals in the eating disorder field. The growing support for our project, and similar projects we are aligned with, allows us to create a platform on which we can help reduce the stigma of eating disorders and give people in recovery a voice, which then helps those who are still trapped by theirs.

We also  recognise that everyone is unique in their recovery, what works for some doesn't always work for others, but from using the experiences of so many 'ninja's' we hope that we can cover a wide spectrum of experience. Of course, there are also people who do not agree with associating themselves with a 'community' or 'group' of people such as Team Recovery, and we would never try and influence or force people to follow our accounts or be 'part of' something the were not comfortable with. Team recovery is not a clique, nor does it have a hierarchy of Ninjas.

Unfortunately, in recent weeks individuals have taken on a view that Team Recovery and Recovery Ninjas are belittling or ridiculing or influencing peoples individual recovery and I would personally like to take this opportunity to assure followers and supporters of @_teamrecovery that the personal opinions of Rachel, Ally and I are in no way the same as those of the Team Recovery project. However, the bullying that has occurred on Twitter amongst some of our followers has been of a personal nature and I will not tolerate myself or my friends being publically ridiculed for their recovery. There have been some hurtful and disgusting tweets from some people which have made people with low self-esteem feel isolated and ashamed of their recovery methods or feel uncomfortable tweeting their achievements, when personally I feel people should be proud of their POW moments, their successes and their wins against their eating disorders. 

As a 27 year old, educated and experienced professional I certainly DO NOT appreciate being referred to as ‘young, naïve or impressionable, nor do I feel like I am pushing my own views, recovery or problems on to those less impressionable and more vulnerable than myself.  I also do not appreciate the attack on my friends in such a personal and nasty manner. Their comments, opinions and tweets being taken out of context on numerous occasions and used against them in attacks of bullying which CAN NOT be tolerated, and if were to occur in a workplace would be sackable offences. 

I do not believe there is a ‘pecking order’ a ‘clique’ or a ‘ranking’ on Twitter, nor do I feel I ‘follow’ others or that I am ‘followed’ or ‘worshiped’. The people I communicate with on Twitter, through my personal account, are those people who have become friends of mine, and with whom I share common interests, outside of our recovery/eating disorders.

 I also made the free choice to un-follow or disassociate myself with people who I felt were not supportive of me, who’s tweets I found unhelpful and those people who I felt were at different stages of their eating disorder or recovery than me. Much in the same way I delete people from my Facebook if I seldom speak to them or feel I have no connection or friendship with. This is a free choice for anyone using social networking, to protect themselves.

I hope that those people who find the positive work of Team supportive can separate themselves from this attack from people who are no longer supportive of the project. Ally, Rach and I will continue to develop the project, continue to raise awareness and offer support through our association with professionals, other pro-recovery projects and through spreading positive messages. 

Finally, I am deeply sorry on any personal level if any of the recent ‘arguments’ comments or attacks on Twitter have affected your recovery in any negative way and I am thankful for the love and support of my friends and personally I am going to continue to fight for freedom from my eating disorder, one day at a time. Like a #RecoveryNinja, I will continue to give it some #Pow, it is up to you whether you do the same or unfollow my personal account. 

Thank you

Sarah xx


  1. Incredibly well worded and powerful Sarah.
    Seriously admire what you guys are doing xx

    That is all xxx

  3. Well said. Anything on the web at large is always tricky, especially when you are still in recovery yourself. Stay true and remember that your purpose is being shown even if there are naysayers who don't see it. Until you are farther along in the recovery journey, and even when you are(!), there will always be those who will have negative things to say about what you put out into the world. Some are coming from a place of concern, having seen actual impressionable people rely too much on Internet role models who are not yet able to be full role models...and some are coming from a place of being truly malicious. Helping people is important, worthy, and admirable. Keep your head up and your heart open. ((hugs))