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‘Most have found the past year extremely hard’: Dave’s story

Aware of the challenges faced by those experiencing eating disorders during the pandemic, Beat fundraiser Dave has shown astounding resilience and creativity to raise money for Beat in their local community.

Working as an eating disorders nurse, I’ve seen right on the front line how people affected by these mental health illnesses have struggled during the last year. At the same time, the pandemic has put things into perspective – people are thinking about their health, both mental and physical.

Like Beat, demand for our service is higher than ever. While some have been able to use lockdown really positively, most have found the past year extremely hard. We are seeing people finding recovery really challenging because of the restrictions of the pandemic: getting access to GPs and dentists is more difficult, lack of access to safe foods, lots of food in the house as more people do a big weekly shop to reduce social contact and isolation is taking its toll.

It means that we’ve had to change as professionals too. We’re providing extra clinics to make sure patients are monitored physically while their treatment continues, and we’ve had to adapt to provide more services online. Demand is soaring and we’re seeing lots of people come forward for treatment after suffering for years, often because they’ve had time to think about things in lockdown and have decided that they want to make a positive change to their mental health. We want to support every individual the very best we can.

When the third national lockdown was announced, I decided to commit to pulling on my running shoes for 100 consecutive days to raise money for a charity who I know have supported so many people I work with. The challenge has been tough, but it has given me a real focus and it has helped my own mental and physical health too. Now, I look forward to it most days and the challenge is made easier seeing the money trickle into my fundraising pot for Beat.

I’m a keen runner and a member of a local running club and I’ve been careful to make sure my patients don’t see this as an ‘extreme’ exercise challenge. I’ve used it as an opportunity to talk to them about how I’m fuelling and looking after my body.

I often refer patients I work with to Beat’s services. Their support is evidence-based and is able to complement the treatment provided by the NHS. The charity is a safe space, somewhere neutral where patients can get up to date with information, find reassurance and talk to others going through similar things. Eating disorders can take over family’s lives, causing friction, ruining relationships and the training and information Beat provides gives loved ones the skills and confidence to better support patients in recovery.

Every kilometre of my challenge means Beat continues to provide this support to people with eating disorders. As society reopens, I hope the patients we are supporting can use the world’s opportunities as a goal for their recovery and that my fundraising means Beat can help them along the way.

Contributed by Dave and featured in Beat's 2020-2021 Impact report