22 November 2017
What is it going to take for things to change? How many more people are going to slip through the net and find themselves without the critical support they need? Please, someone tell me what more I can do to make people realise how lethal an eating disorder is!
We have all heard about mental health on the news and it is amazing to see the ripple of confidence throughout society as the topic is now being more openly discussed. Personally, I think it is an amazing change and something I am proud to be a part of, but is it making a difference? So many more people are being more open about mental health, yet I often wonder if they are being supported. Those that are suffering are being so brave to open up about their difficulties and taking so much courage to reach out for help, but what happens after that?
Speaking from experience, I can tell you that there is nothing more distressing than asking for help when a voice inside your head is screaming not to. The thoughts are relentless on a day-to-day basis, but I can remember that moment so vividly when I begged to go into a specialist eating disorder unit. I was sick of referral after referral, assessment after assessment, and getting no help whatsoever. I often wonder if those professionals know how it feels to be rejected, passed on or pushed aside. All that effort, emotion and exhaustion to ask for help, and what does it lead to? I never like to suggest that anybody gives up, but I would just like those healthcare professionals to think about what they would do in that situation.
Now more than ever, those that are struggling have to find their own support. Thankfully, now more than ever, there is a wealth of self-help resources out there! But have we all forgotten something? Can an eating disorder sufferer check their potassium, magnesium and phosphate levels using a CBT worksheet? Do eating disorder sufferers know that they may be at risk of refeeding syndrome if they follow a meal plan they have found on a blog somewhere? I am in no way saying that the resources out there are not useful- they absolutely are! But how can anybody absorb the psychological support when they cannot concentrate or focus on anything other than the constant circulation of negative thoughts taking over every second of their day. Medical intervention is crucial. Every sufferer should be monitored regularly and nothing should be left unnoticed. Even if an individual’s BMI is not alerted as being critical, there can still be imbalances on electrolyte levels and they need to be supervised through regular blood tests. It petrifies me to think of the state my body was in, but what scares me even more is to think of the devastating results that could have occurred had I not have had the level of physical monitoring that I did.
I know that I am always going to hear of situations similar to mine, and I know that I am always going to feel the same level of frustration and despair. But what I cannot deal with is the horrific stories that surface of individuals that have fallen victim to the carelessness or misunderstanding of health professionals. I am aware that I cannot help everybody, but I constantly think about what I can do to prevent people from suffering from this horrendous mental illness.
What is it going to take?