Jess blogs about being diagnosed with anorexia and the challenges she faced in getting the right treatment.
In January 2015 my incredibly brave parents confronted me about my rapid weight loss and eating habits. I call them brave because as with most families, you never want to admit that something is wrong, particularly with your own child.
Of course, I didn’t see that there was a problem at all and completely dismissed what they were saying to me about my weight loss, as to be honest my mind was so distorted that I couldn’t actually see what I was doing to my body.
I visited the doctor under their suggestion and he mentioned seeing a dietician to discuss why I was losing weight, but nothing else was mentioned after that. It actually turned out that the doctor had weighed and heighted me, miscalculating my BMI to be within the healthy category. It was quite clear that it was far lower than this, but this is why no red flags had been raised.
I became aware whilst watching Supersize VS Superskinny...that I could very much relate to the struggles that they were experiencing
After nothing had been implemented through the NHS, due to no services being available in the East Riding, my parents decided to take action themselves and paid for me to see a private dietician.
I was still completely in denial about my current situation and just listed off what I was eating. Not quite specifying the amounts and certainly not accounting for food that I was throwing away. She gave me a vague meal plan and we arranged another appointment. It was only throughout the time between me visiting her and my next appointment that I started to realise that my life and eating habits were not normal.
I became aware whilst watching Supersize VS Superskinny, particularly episodes where they followed a group of anorexia sufferers, that I could very much relate to the struggles that they were experiencing. During my next appointment I broke down and admitted that I had a problem, but still up until April I had no specific eating disorder help, except a generic meal plan, and during that time I lost another considerable amount of weight.
I could see what they were trying to do but I had had literally embodied this mental illness.
I was assigned a new doctor in April and that was when action started taking place up until me being admitted to hospital in July, but I cannot stress how much of a lengthy process it was. Even though 4 months doesn’t sound long, you have to understand that I was decreasing in weight extremely rapidly due to not receiving psychological help. Anybody can be given a meal plan to follow, but if you cannot get the psychological help alongside it, then it is completely pointless and that is what I am trying to challenge within the community.
Here is an account of everything that I went through between the months of April through to July in terms of trying to access help:
- Referred to a gastroenterologist, an NHS dietician and a local community team.
- 2 assessments with the community team but no specific help could be offered.
- 2 assessments with a private psychologist whom my parents sourced, but I was then informed that my BMI was too low to be able to do psychological work.
- 2 assessments with a Hull based eating disorder service, which I was told I could not access because I live in the East Riding, however I begged them to help me find a place in a hospital because I was at a point of complete despair.
- 1 assessment at Grimsby Hospital.
- Admitted into hospital 16th July- 20th November 2015.
It felt like somebody was writing my name on a to-do-list and rewriting it everyday for weeks on end.
It was an incredibly long process and throughout it all I was experiencing more and more of the physical and emotional effects previously stated. As you can imagine this was having a massive impact on my family which I was completely ignorant of. My parents were at a loss as to what they could do in terms of trying to find me the help. They even bought books and did their own research on eating disorders to try and find ways that I could attempt to recover through self help.
I could see what they were trying to do but I had had literally embodied this mental illness. There was no trace of Jess left inside me. I started to say to myself, ‘if nobody wants to help me then why should I help myself.’ I was utterly defeated.
I cannot thank my family, friends and colleagues enough for just trying to keep me afloat whilst I was sinking throughout this entire process. Well, I say process, but to me it seemed like the most unorganised, miscommunicated and delayed ordeal that could have been possible. It was as if nobody was in a rush. I am sure that the professionals were trying to do as much as they could, but to my family and I, it felt like somebody was writing my name on a to-do-list and rewriting it everyday for weeks on end.
...I had simply had enough with not being able to focus on anything, do anything and constantly being referred to other professionals.
Every time I went for an assessment, information would have been miscommunicated. Firstly, my BMI was calculated wrong, seemingly grouping me in the healthy range, which I was not. Secondly, my height was passed on as being 1m tall, this is not correct, I am 1.68m. Finally, and the most surprisingly of all, it was handed over that my weight was 10kg lower than what it actually was!
Even when this alarming weight was transferred, it still did not prompt anybody to see me any sooner. I was still driving to and from work, which I am now aware that I should not have been doing at all. I received no medical advice about this, and only now that I know more about the unfit state I was in, I realise how incredibly dangerous this was. I can see my family and friends frustration now, as looking back at previous diaries and photographs it was evident that I was simply wasting away.
I could not see it myself, but in July I had simply had enough with not being able to focus on anything, do anything and constantly being referred to other professionals. However, it was only when I got to hospital that I realised the extent of how much damage I had been doing to my actual body.