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DIY recovery with me - Meg's story

Accessing healthcare and treatment for eating disorders is one of the most prevalent issues in our healthcare system. It is flawed. And whilst I am so pleased to say there have been recent policy improvements to eating disorder support hubs across the country, the deficit has left a huge mark on so many individuals.

So, here is my story – how to recover when you don’t seem to meet the thresholds for professional support.

One of the biggest issues that is so staringly obvious to me but isn’t something many people are aware of until they try and access care for eating disorders is the difficulty in meeting thresholds for help. For me, I was not “sick” enough to meet thresholds for public health care. But this is one of the most striking issues with the UK’s current mental health system – you are always “sick” enough to deserve to recover. Prevention of people developing eating disorders (before it gets to the point of meeting thresholds for inpatient care/intensive outpatient care) should be made a priority.

I found this out in my recent relapse where I made the decision to try to seek help. I quickly realised that I was not at a weight or level of immediate danger – that is, I wasn’t sick enough to get public care at a more intensive level than talking therapy (which I already had). I felt I needed greater support daily for this, such as supported feeding and monitoring. I would like to say here that I am very privileged that I do have access to private healthcare insurance before I continue, but my experience with private healthcare is no better than public care.

Once I explored treatment options privately, I realised quickly that my insurance company would not permit me to claim for my anorexia, since it had been ongoing longer than my policy. Therefore, I was stuck. I was not sick enough for intensive public care, but not able to afford private care myself. Honestly, at the time this was one of the hardest, most infuriating experiences I have had, and genuinely made me consider giving up as it felt like there was no help out there. But I had committed to recover, and I had made myself a promise earlier in the year that no matter all costs, all discomfort, I would do this for me and my family.

So, how to do DIY. recovery?

I set about informing my dietitian, an absolutely amazing lady who I can honestly thank my life for, who works holistically, of my plans. I was going to make-shift an intensive outpatient treatment plan for myself at home as I was currently at university studying my masters and living alone was not conducive to my health (it only allowed me to fuel my anorexia and permit me to behave in all my compulsive tendencies and restrictions).

So, I made a plan. With the help of my dietitian and my mum as my supporter, who was going to supervise my meals, support me during meal prep, shopping and at difficult times, I set up my DIY recovery treatment. I included podcasts I found helpful, mindfulness breaks, therapy, and dietitian sessions in my daily schedule, along with timetabled breaks for snacks and meals. I also found Cara Lisette’s ED recovery journal (which I cannot recommend highly enough) and dedicated daily slots to journal. Together, this makeshift and mend plan to recovery included as much of intensive eating disorder recovery treatments as I could feasibly do at home and afford.

I’m writing this as I near the end of my recovery period and, honestly, it was one of the best decisions ever. It allowed me to bridge that huge treatment gap in healthcare. Without this plan, I would’ve had to wait until my eating disorder became so severe that I was in immediate danger – this is something I am so glad I avoided by taking action. I am aware this approach may not be for everyone and if you need inpatient support then home care may not be an option.

The bravest thing to do is tell your GP and so I am only speaking from personal experience, but my message is this… You can recover. You are sick enough. You deserve help no matter what thresholds or criteria you meet because you are more than numbers; your mental and physical trauma can not be defined by meeting such numerics.

So, if you are in the same position as I was, where you cannot afford inpatient private care but feel you need treatment, get your outpatient team together, get your people, and DIY yourself your recovery, because you can take charge of your eating disorder.

Here are some quick tips from my home timetable:

  1. Get yourself an ED journal.
  2. Schedule meal and snack breaks and journalling time after to process these.
  3. Find your support – your people are out there, and you need someone to help you along the way.
  4. Inform your dietitian, or if you are not in a position to access private dietetics or therapy, inform your GP.
  5. It will be hard, and you will need discipline, but you can do this 😊

Contributed by Meg

If you've been affected by any of the issues raised in this story, or are concerned for yourself or a loved one, you can find support and guidance on the help pages of our website.

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