Looking around the four walls of my doctor’s surgery, waiting for my name to be called, I began to feel very anxious. I had relapsed a month back whilst finishing college and I knew at that moment I needed to seek help. I had suffered on and off since I was fourteen years old, but now I was twenty-eight and felt I was being stupid because people my age shouldn’t suffer in the depths of anorexia, right?
Once I was in my assessment, I felt my heart beat faster and my body shaking due to my anxiety. Opening up was never easy for me but before the words left my mouth the assessor slammed me down. “Your BMI is high and the ED services won’t see you because of your weight.”
My heart suddenly broke, tears streaming down my face. Did they know how hard it was for me to come to this assessment?
I was dismissed and rejected with the words: “Your depression has caused you to lose your appetite.” I was sent away with an offering of six GP counselling sessions.
The assessor had triggered the voice inside my head more by telling me how much I needed to lose to get help for an eating disorder. I couldn’t break the cycle – this was the worst relapse I had suffered. In the past I had little slips here and there but nothing as major as this relapse.
Feeling misunderstood and a fake I turned to Beat and spoke to them through webchat. They reassured me that what I was told was wrong and that it isn’t about weight. They offered me guidance into looking into support groups in my area.
I couldn’t have thanked Beat enough, and once I had the information I emailed the person in charge of the support group. Unfortunately due to funding the support group was closed and I was told I would need to be within ED services to attend the group.
I wasn’t going to let this rejection beat me down further and I used Beat’s service finder tool on their website. Finally, I found a service that allowed self-referral. The service was in the next city, yes; it was a bus and train journey away, but I didn’t mind travelling as long as I was understood and listened to.
I emailed the service straight away and was sent a form to fill out. Once everything was set in place I was offered an assessment with them. Upon attending I began to worry that they might do the same as the mental health assessor and that I was wasting their time. After the assessment was over I felt a huge weight disappear off my chest and that I could breathe again.
In my assessment I was asked questions that were based around my life. I didn’t know that something like trauma could cause me to develop an eating disorder. It did, however, make a lot of sense. They understood me and suggested I go back to my doctors and fight for a diagnosis of atypical Anorexia/EDNOS. I did explain that the doctor I saw was understanding and that it was the mental health assessor who caused all the grief.
Continuing with the assessment a wave of guilt overcame me as I saw a tear within the eye of the woman who was assessing me. I wanted to cry myself but my whole body felt numb while going through the details. I was offered one-to-one therapy with them and I was so pleased I managed to get help.
I was placed on a small waiting list and I’ve attended two therapy sessions so far, which are helping me to take baby steps into wanting recovery. My therapist is so understanding and patient with me. She set a target for me to get started on the road to recovery before starting my university course – it has been hard but I’m hoping that by the time I get my degree I will be fully recovered.
I am anxious about starting my course as I feel it might a tough and rocky road ahead with my mental health on top and the voice inside me breaking me down, but I won’t let that stop me from doing a course I’ve wanted to do in a long time.
The course I’m starting is an HND in policing/criminal investigation and It’s a dream of mine to help people. Yes, the voice inside me tears me up with evil comments about how much I weigh and that the police won’t want me on the force because of it. But I’m not letting my disability with mild cerebral palsy stop me from being in the police, so why should I let anorexia?
I’m hoping to achieve my dreams and hoping that one day I can volunteer as an ambassador for Beat and share my experience with others that are too scared to go to the doctors because they feel they won’t get help due to their weight.
Doctors and mental health assessors need to realise that eating disorders do not discriminate. They are a serious mental health problem that needs addressing in anyone suffering.
I’m lucky to have an amazing therapist who understands me, and with their service I’ve been offered three sessions of group therapy, which I start next month. I’m lucky to have seen another doctor while feeling unwell and was taken more seriously. I’m also very lucky to have amazing support off my fiancé who I’m newly engaged to, and I’m delighted to have cheered for Beat runners at the Great North Run.
I’m so grateful for all the help Beat have offered me – without them I don’t know where I would be.
You have to learn how to live again and, like with any lessons, you often have to fail to learn the best way or the right way...
In the past I’ve wanted to hide the eating disorders that are part of my history, but I want to shout from the rooftops: I'm proud of how far I had come!
What a year 2020 has been in general for everyone – it was a year no one ever could have imagined, from panic buying, toilet roll shortages, lockdowns and restrictions. Yet for so many, including me, the battle against an eating disorder continued.