Survivor, author, and mentor Andrea Roe was kind enough to stop by “Mentoring and Recovery” to share her insights about the power of mentoring from both the mentee’s and the mentor’s point of view.
Andrea is the author of the great two-volume series “You Are Not Alone: the book of companionship for women with eating disorders” and the editor of the monthly Support Letter e-newsletter, which has the largest subscriber base of any similar publication in Canada. (psss…read on below for how you can WIN a FREE COPY of You Are Not Alone Vol 2)*
Andrea is also a long-time valued board member with MentorCONNECT, a pending 501(c)3 non-profit organization that is dedicated to promoting no-fee access to mentoring for any individual who is personally affected by an eating disorder.
Andrea’s own recovery journey has been a rich adventure in seeking and finding nurturing, empowering, encouraging pro-recovery mentoring relationships. Thank you so much Andrea for sharing your experiences with us!
1. You have mentioned that online recovery communities and mentoring were important in your own recovery from anorexia and bulimia because of all the support you found there. Tell us about your own experiences.
Being in touch with others who were also in recovery or already recovered was an essential part of my own recovery. It made me feel understood, less alone and gave me hope that all this hard work was really worth it. I really got that if they could overcome their struggles, I COULD TOO!
I visited and tried several online communities and groups before I found the ones that worked best for me — Something Fishy and Pale Reflections. I was thrilled to find out that not only people who were new to recovery, or already well on their way in recovery, but also people who were fully recovered, were part of these communities.
In the beginning, I was too shy to post anything and just read other people’s messages. I got a lot out of them. Eventually, I felt strong enough and started posting myself. And I was just thrilled when people replied to my posts. Wow, that was an amazing feeling! They took the time to not only read my messages, but also supported and encouraged me to keep fighting. That was HUGE for me!
Over time, I connected one on one with some of the people whose posts I was able to relate to the most and whose words touched me, gave me hope and inspired me to keep working on my recovery. I especially loved being in touch with people who were already recovered—they were my heroes. And I was so grateful that they not only listened to me, but also shared details of their recovery and what helped them get better. The mentoring process began from there, which made a big difference in my recovery.
In fact, I’m still in touch with some of these wonderful people today. A few have even contributed their recovery stories to one of my books.
Because I got so much out of hearing and reading other people’s recovery stories and what helped them get better, now that I’m fully recovered, I’m passionate about giving back—sharing my story, supporting others in their healing journey and letting them know that eating disorders can be overcome.
2. You are now serving as a mentor yourself in many ways. What do you love about mentoring?
To share what I have learned over the years gives my struggles a purpose. Because of what I went through and everything I experienced, I can now support others in taking their lives back. It’s very rewarding.
3. As a mentor, what is the most important message you want your mentees to remember?
No matter how hard the journey may be, never ever give up! Recovery really is possible!
4. What advice would you give to someone who is searching for a mentor to help them through their recovery?
Know that a mentor is not a substitute for professional help. But having a mentor certainly can be a wonderful addition to your personal support team.
Don’t be shy to ask for help and don’t take a “no” personally. It’s important to keep reaching out and eventually you’ll find the person that’s right for you.
Also, don’t be discouraged if you don’t find a mentor that fits your needs right away—sometimes it takes longer to find the person who can best support you and who can provide what you’re looking for.
There’s a great quote I want to share with you from Johanna Kandel, who also recovered from an eating disorder:
“There is someone—even if you aren’t aware of it right now—who will be so honored to walk next to you on your journey. All I am asking is that you be willing to ask for help.”
5. What advice would you give to someone who is interested in serving as a mentor to others?
Before you start a mentoring relationship, be clear about your style of communication, ask your mentee what (s)he wants to get out of the relationship, and don’t be afraid to set boundaries. Open and honest communication is important.
If you are interested in helping others through mentoring, consider joining a pro-recovery community like MentorCONNECT—which provides a wonderful opportunity to serve as a recovery mentor and also provides mentor training and support.
6) Anything else you’d like to share?
I’ve seen first hand the difference mentoring can make in a person’s recovery. It’s exceptionally beneficial for the mentee of course, but I have had the pleasure of working with others that had an eating disorder, started on the road to recovery, then became a mentor to another person just starting out. The value the mentor gets for this work is often nothing short of amazing.
Relationships really do replace eating disorders!
CONTEST ALERT!!!!!!!!!!!!!! * To WIN one of 3 FREE COPIES of “You Are Not Alone, Vol 2: the book of companionship for women with eating disorders with free companion CD,” simply post a comment below that says “I want to win Andrea’s book!” The first 3 readers to post with this comment will win (if you wish to remain anonymous but still have a chance to win you can email me at [email protected])