Since it’s National Eating Disorder Week and I haven’t posted on here in months, I thought I’d do a quick post about my experience with eating disorders/disordered eating.
I’ve had troubles with eating since I was a kid and I was overweight for most of my childhood and teenage years. I remember being at school when I was 12 and googling ‘how do you make yourself sick?’ I never did it until a few years later but I was really unhappy with my body.
When I was in year 7, I used to come home from school and binge every day. I had 2 patterns that I followed. One was I had to switch between sweet and savoury and the other was going in order through every cupboard in the kitchen, including the fridge, until I felt sick.
When I was 19 the problems really started. I was doing a HND in Performing Arts at college and was dancing 6 days a week. I thought I was really fat so decided I wanted to lose weight. It all started fine but soon after it turned into me restricting my food intake and making myself sick every time I ate. Eventually, after an massive argument with my boyfriend at the time, I went and saw my GP and told her everything, while completely breaking down. She was lovely and referred me to the mental health nurse that was based at the surgery. I spoke to the nurse about 3 times. One time I must have been speaking to her for about 2 hours because when I left the room, the surgery was shut and I had to go out the staff entrance. In the end I got referred to have CBT under the primary mental health services. Unfortunately, I only had about 2 or 3 sessions and got discharged from there because I went psychotic and was referred to secondary mental health services.
Ever since then I’ve been struggling on and off. It’s been 6 years and no one has tried to help me since. I was never diagnosed with an eating disorder because I was a ‘normal weight’ when I went to the GP the first time around and then the focus was on my new diagnosis of bipolar.
In the last 6 years I’ve asked for help about 4 times, which has always been either put down to self harm or low mood and appetite. I’ve been pushed from pillar to post and when I most recently tried to get help last week, I was just told ‘you need to eat something’ and ‘you’ll put all the weight back on when you start eating again’. My CPN didn’t care and my psychiatrist didn’t care. The GP I saw even had the audacity to assume that I was suffering with binge eating because I’m obese. She told me she’d refer me to a dietitian which made me equal parts hopeful and scared. I have since googled what a dietitian does in my local hospital and the thing that stuck out to me was weight management. This essentially is for people who are obese who qualify for bariatric surgery. I feel so frustrated that no one is taking me seriously and because of my weight and I’m just being told ‘you need to lose weight,’ which I already know and can’t seem to do in a healthy way.
This is why I’m really passionate about the #DumpTheScales campaign which Hope Virgo started. Eating disorders (whether I have one or not) shouldn’t be determined by someone’s BMI or weight. You shouldn’t be refused treatment just because you don’t tick all the boxes. Being told you’re too heavy, whatever your weight may be, will just fuel your eating disorder and make you think that you’re not sick enough and feel like you need to be sicker to be taken seriously. Early intervention is key.