“Mentee or Mentor (By: Mandy Pirie)

I spend a lot more time on screens now. I mean, a lot more. I hope I’m not alone in this quarantine/ pandemic altered reality that has become our new normal. My smartphone, the t.v. (Netflix or Hulu – pick your poison) and my 10 year old laptop are my way of numbing out and distracting but also my source of creativity, social interaction and let’s face it my “besties” at this point. This means, my already fragile circadian rhythm is so confused I feel like a shift worker who has taken a mix of espresso and Ambien.

One night, as I was mourning my old friend sleep but wide awake with creative vigor I couldn’t shake the feeling that it was time to help. My draw to help others in recovery was so strong that I found myself with 9 different recovery mentorship websites reading feverishly on “how to become a mentor.”

Since the beginning of this interesting yet daunting journey through my eating disorder and now, my recovery, I have known that I am a servant of others. Yet, there I was with my eating disorder, so fragile and shaky and tired and lost. So fragile in my recovery that I began to think that maybe I was fooling myself this whole time in thinking I could be strong for others. How could I possibly show the way when I was so off course and confused about my own life?

I distinctly remember a time engaging in such ridiculously unhealthy behavior that I actually began to laugh. I thought, “Mandy, when you get healthy and strong again, you will give back. You will be a light in someone else’s darkness, a compassionate listener, a truth-teller.” And then I began to fight. By nature, I’m quite the passive free spirit but this fight was worth it. I slowly but surely, began to practice doing hard things and the more I did them, the stronger I became.  I started advocating for myself and stopped apologizing, started being curious about my feelings and then usually engaged in opposite actions. This led me to believe that if I was strong enough to heal my tired body and mind that surely anyone could.

After quite the lengthy autobiography, a few online trainings, and a pseudo-exam, I am proud to say I am currently a mentor for a reputable non-profit for eating disorder recovery. They are dedicated to helping people help themselves and being involved gives me the purpose I once dreamt of. Did I think I would have this opportunity? Actually, yes.  I knew one day I would recover, I just didn’t know how. I stay recovered for me, but also for all of us who have suffered and not felt seen or heard.  I’ll admit I often have” imposter syndrome” but I just keep looking forward, keep listening and keep encouraging.

In recovery mentoring, I am finding good in places I would have never expected. I am seeing willingness in people that I didn’t know existed. I’m learning to live life again, through the courage of others, one day at a time.

About the Author

Mandy Pirie is a native Floridian living near Tampa, FL. She is proudly recovered and passionate about promoting body neutrality and respect for all shapes, sizes and colors. A massage therapist for over 8 years, Mandy enjoys helping her clients practice mindfulness and body awareness during their sessions. She loves practicing yoga inversions in her backyard and teaching her daughter to “be the change.”