Blogging for Sophia

This is a post in which I ask you for money, if you have it, and hope, whether you think you have it or not.

Reader Mary Maxfield Brave asked me if I would “lend the power of the hambeast” to the cause of getting Sophia sufficient funds for her eating disorder treatment. And it was this paragraph from her post that got me to agree:

The Big Picture — with all its beauty and contrast and confusion — is a mosaic of tiny, smaller pictures. And the value system at the core of my activism is the notion that each of those tiny specks also matters — that, while I tend to think in generations and movements, in long-term change worth personal sacrifice – my desire for those changes and my belief in them depends upon my attachment to specific, individual folks. When I cut to the core of things, I still must admit: the one, specific friend I lost to suicide causes me more pain than the fact that another life is lost (to suicide, in the US alone) every 17 minutes. The personal matters.

And here is Sophia:

My name is Sofia Benbahmed and I am trying to do everything in my power to get the help I need – if you read the description on my page, all of the details are there in an email that I am sending out to friends and family. I am currently trying to raise money to get the treatment recommended for me for a disease I have had for 12 years – an eating disorder. I have had issues with my insurance company and am trying to get the help I need and finally get better!

*******

For all that I initially — and readily — agreed to take part in the blogging carnival for Sophia (because I am fundamentally a softy with a tendency to swoon when people ask me for help as though I were not an especially tiny krill in the online ocean), I realized I had a lot of resistance to the idea.

What do I know about her, really?

Might it be a scam?

Why her, and not someone else?

Why one person with an eating disorder, when that much money could help so many others with different illnesses?

And even — and I hate myself for thinking this — what if she doesn’t make it? What if she doesn’t get better?

And y’know, in examining these resistances, they each came down to… cynicism. And I don’t particularly like the thought of myself as quite that cynical. (“contemptuously distrustful of human nature and motives” — “based on or reflecting a belief that human conduct is motivated primarily by self-interest”)

Cynicism has its place, perhaps. But cynicism is the antithesis of hope. Cynicism is immobilizing. Cynicism is douche in the back of the class scoffing that it will never work whilst the people in the front do what they can to make it happen. And after high school (and, um, in high school), that really stopped being amusing. So forget cynicism. Forget the voice in my head saying but she has so much, others have so much less. Forget the urge to pile up her privileges and deem her “not oppressed enough”; that was me when the Boychick was born, having too much family income to access state health care, but still having too little to pay the midwife and our daily bills and forget trying to get out of debt. Others had less, yes; that didn’t mean I should give up and be “grateful”, but rather that we all deserved more.

Forget cynicism. Even if you have nothing to give, or choose to decline this particular cause, I challenge you to not roll your eyes as you click away. I challenge you if you send nothing to send nothing but wishes for good luck. Forget cynicism.

*******

What do I know about her, really? She’s a person with an illness, wanting and trying to get better and being blocked by bureaucracies and capitalism and the alchemy of greed, ableism, and misogyny that allows insurance companies to deny payment for full courses of treatment for eating disorders.

Might it be a scam? Maybe. But I have no reason to think so, and every reason to think it’s entirely legitimate. And even if it is, what would a donor of $25 lose? $25. Not a bad price, if you can afford it (and if you can’t comfortably do so, please send wishes and retweets and know that is more than enough), for the reminder that you are not entirely immobilized by cynicism. I would be out more — social capital, readership trust — and I deem it more than worth the negligible risk.

Why her? Because a friend asked, and I was able. It really is that simple.

…and not someone else? No reason why not, except that there is never as much time or ability to blog about all that I want to or plan to. And see below for my woo woo rejection of zero-sum thinking.

Why one person with an eating disorder, when that much money could help so many others with different illnesses? Because I deny the culture of lack rather than the belief of abundance that question is based on. I reject that human lives can be measured and weighed so dispassionately. I assert that if one person is not worth an entire community’s support, the community is not worth one person’s effort.

What if she doesn’t make it? What if she doesn’t get better? Oh, cynical, hurting, lacking me, who asks this question. Dear self: you are worth the world, without doing a thing to earn it. You are worth all care, all money, all love, regardless of what happens after. You are worth effort, regardless of outcome. And so, therefore, is everyone else. So, specifically, is Sophia.

So this is my plea, for hope and selflessness instead of cynicism. For abundance, instead of lack. For Sophia.

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This post is a part of a Blog-a-Day group effort to have one blog post each day in October to raise funds for Sophia’s treatment, and awareness of eating disorders and the deficits in insurance coverage. See the list at Tumblr to read already published posts and check back in throughout the month as more go live. There are still a few spots left if you wish to participate at your own blog.

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5 Responses to Blogging for Sophia

  1. Thank you for helping and providing an opportunity for others. Thanks for being an example of how to help.

    I dislike cynicism too. “Those that say it can’t be done should get out of the way of those doing it” – no?

  2. Maybe I’m just a little challenged today but I can’t find any way to contact you more privately, so I’m responding to this here.
    Thank you so much. I’m so grateful and I’m in awe of your honesty – when Mary began organizing this blog-a-day-for-a-month thing I was incredibly grateful to her and I’ve continued to be, as well as for every one of the bloggers involved. I mean, of course I’m grateful. And I think what’s struck me most about it is the honesty and the pretty brilliant job I feel like people have done addressing the fact that this is a controversial way to go about things, on my part.
    I knew it, when I decided to fund raise, and I went ahead and did it despite, because I’d looked into so many other options. Originally this whole thing began as an idea to write an email to some extended family members asking for help, and it was when I realized that despite how much I know my family would want to help that…it wouldn’t be *enough*, purely financially, that I started brainstorming. I remembered a good friend who fund raised for her medical bills post surgery for a serious injury more recently and talked a bit with her.
    And it turned into something, and now whether or not I reach the “goal” amount I have a better chance of remaining in treatment for the duration of an appeal, and I have a lot of people to be grateful for – whether or not they are able to help financially, the kindness of so many people who have for whatever reason and on whatever level come to me to try to help in some way.
    I can assure you I’m not a scam ;-), but I guess my word alone isn’t much if you don’t know me. I suppose the most concrete “proof” I can provide to anyone who’s not a friend on facebook or whatever are the comments on the donor page of the giveforward site – comments from personal, close friends and family members who have been a part of my life for years.
    Sorry this is so disorganized, I keep losing my train of thought and getting distracted. I guess one last thing I want to say is that I feel the need to let you know – and others – that I am truly unbelievably grateful for all of the help, and that I really do intend on taking this enormous kindness and paying it forward.
    Thank you again,
    S

  3. Thank you so much! Sofia is a friend of mine and while I am just as much a cynic as anyone else, I know she will get better.
    I have been and worked in the field of eating disorders long enough to see people never get better.
    Sofia is a fireball of world changing power.
    She will get better and she will help the world change.

  4. I’ve been trying to come up with a comment that’s worth this post for days now, but I’ll just have to leave it with this: Thank you so much for doing this. If we can’t support the community we’re in, we’re setting ourselves and our progeny up for future pain.

    Also to Sofia: Bless. While we can’t help financially, you’re in our thoughts and we wish you all the best in fighting such an insidious disease. I am in awe of your strength.

  5. First off, Sofia, I wish you all the best. Treatment and recovery is tough but so incredibly worth it. I had anorexia from age 10-21 and struggled a lot in that time. I finally committed myself 100% to getting well and pushed through all the discomfort and urges to flee and revert back to my old ways of living and am now two years in full recovery. I never imagined that full recovery existed, let alone that it would happen for me, yet here I am. I did it without religion, without a supportive family, and largely through my own determination. I’m now a graduate student, partnered with a sweet guy, and living a really wonderful life. Stick with it! The longer you go with an adequately nourished body the more your brain will get on board and cooperate (meaning less eating disordered thoughts and urges) and the further into recovery you will get. Surround yourself with positive influences (this means ditch any actively eating disordered friends you have and don’t become best buddies with the people you are in treatment with) and participate in activities that make you smile and bring joy to your life. I hope to read an update on your progress some day!

    Arwyn, thank you for this post. Both the fundraising you are supporting Sofia and for challenging cynicism. If you ever want to support eating disorder treatment in the future (and on a local to us level) I would recommend collecting money for the Kartini Foundation for the Kartini Clinic located near Legacy Emanuel Hospital. (The other main ED treatment center in town is at Providence St. Vincent Hospital but I can’t completely advocate for fundraising for them due to their religious affiliation.) I think a fundraiser for the Kartini Foundation would be excellent, especially if the money was to be used for racial/ethnic minority (hugely underserved population when it comes to mental health, especially EDs, as I’m sure you know) and/or LGBT children and teens with EDs.

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