- Physical and/or mental health problems
- Substance misuse
- Basic skills needs
- Dyslexia and other learning difficulties
- Experience of sexual or physical abuse
- Have spent time in care
- Have spent time in the armed forces
- Experience of the criminal justice system
- Relationship breakdown
- Problems accessing welfare benefits
Sunday, 19 October 2008
Is anorexia a choice?
There are two camps on this, aren't there? Some people refer to it as a 'selfish' disorder and that sufferers have a choice - "to be or not to be, that is the question..." (with apologies to Shakespeare).
So, if I am totally wrong, then why is Thomas R. Insel MD and Director of the National Institute for Mental Health stating, in a public letter, that eating disorders are, from research they have discovered, a 'brain disease with severe metabolic effects on the entire body. While the symptoms are behavioural, the illness has a biological core, with genetic components, changes in brain activity and neural pathways, which are currently under study...'
Why does one of the directors of FEAST write in response to my comments and tell me:
The information is out there, but not making its way into practice as quickly as it should. Most clinicians were trained in an earlier era, and because treatment requires multi-disciplinary teams there are a lot of non-scientists having to cope with a paradigm change that isn't easy for laypeople to get a handle on.
Our best bet is to find and work with teams who do have that interest and training - few and far between. But there was a time when people scoffed at the idea of bacteria and viruses, too.
You are not fooling yourself. Your illness is NOT a choice you are making, and there is ZERO selfishness involved. You have a brain condition that distorts reality and holds you back from progress. But it is TREATABLE. You can fully recover! You need skilled clinicians who can bring your brain function back to normal: with nutrition, normalizing behaviors, time, support, skills, and a safe environment. Put yourself in the hands of a team that believes you can recover, and will help you get the tools to do it. YOU CAN RECOVER, but YOU DON'T NEED TO DO IT ALONE."
So, where are these skilled clinicians for us UK-based people? The States seem to be a hell of a lot more switched on than us Brits with our stiff-upper lips who still believe that mental illness is to be ignored, euphemised and locked away. The amount of 'lunatic asylums' which have now been turned into Executive Housing here is astonishing. Obviously your Local Yuppy needs a home more than your Local Loony. The Health Service have advocated 'Care in the Community' and consequently, "hidden homelessness" is now estimated at 400,000 people in England, Scotland and Wales - those who have slipped through the net and aren't counted on the census. And they are estimated to be there due to:
Doesn't make our welfare system look particularly good, does it?
Trying to get help for any form of mental health issue in this country is like trying to get blood out of a stone. Referrals take forever and are generally knocked back. Private medical insurance won't cover you over £500 p.a. in my experience, and with therapy costing approximately £100 per session at specialist clinics such as The Priory, we are allowed five sessions to 'get better'. I am on a waiting list for NHS ED help. And I know for sure, from past experience, I will not get that help. I wait the six months and then they tell me I do not 'fit the bill'. There are no self-help groups in the locale; there are no help-lines running at certain times of the day and night; and GPs are, as described, General Practitioners, with ten minutes allocated per patient.
I can't even get to see a dietician! Can you believe that? So, I do my own research, constantly. I read, I try, I attempt to re-programme myself, I deny myself 'comforting behaviours' and end up wound up to high heaven because I, as yet, don't know how to handle these massive conflicting thoughts whizzing around in my head. Because my only lifeline is seeing a private counsellor for one hour each week.
Today has been a sh*t day for me. I discovered, much to my chagrin and horror, just how much self-confidence I have now lost, when I was put in a situation which I wasn't expecting and to my embarrassment, didn't have the tools to cope with it. Something which used to come second nature to me filled me with nausea, fear and an urgent desire to leg-it as fast as I could. And it knocked me off kilter for the rest of the day as I was so shaken by how this situation had affected me so profoundly.
Tomorrow may be a sh*t day for me. I anticipate some anxiety surrounding it - and that is not meant as a self-fulfilling prophesy, as I can feel the agitation there already.
Tomorrow, I go to see a specialist for a possible sigmoidoscopy/colonoscopy due to the rectal bleeding.
And it's my mother's 73rd birthday. And it is the first birthday of hers which I have chosen to ignore. No card, no acknowledgement, no phone call. I haven't even reminded my daughters to 'send Nanna a birthday card' as they aren't with me this weekend.
Karen coined the whole 'Mother/Daughter' debate up very well in her last post, A Mother's Love . This post resonated with me. It's times like this when we want 'A Mum'. There have always been times when I've wanted 'A Mum' but she's rarely been there. Not at my last wedding; not through either of my pregnancies (once due to distance; the other due to her not talking to me); not through the rough-housing I received from my ex; not through the breakdown of my relationship with 'the ex-partner' which blew me sideways.
So. I made the decision not to acknowledge her birthday some time ago. It's not just a 'tit-for-tat' thing, it's a weariness and an inability to be a hypocrite. But it has affected me deeply today and the few days where things have been good have gone to rat-sh*t today as I am struggling to both cope with and vocalise my turbulent thoughts.
But, tomorrow IS another day. And perhaps it won't be as rubbish as I am expecting?