#IEDAction

#IEDAction

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Canada: Treatment Should Not Require Luck Part 2

Eating Disorders are brain-based, biological illnesses with a strong genetic component and a psychosocial influence. They are not disorders of choice, vanity or family dysfunction. As with autism and schizophrenia, we don't know everything, but we do know we were wrong about a lot for a very long time. Help us challenge stigma and fight for resource parity for these deadly disorders!

Canada: Treatment Should Not Require Luck Part 2

I am writing this in support of the “What’s your story?” campaign put forth by the National Initiative on Eating Disorders.  As a survivor of Anorexia Nervosa, I support the mission put forth by NIED to educate the general public on the severity of living with an eating disorder, and the lack of resources supporting those who do.


 My eating disorder has been a life-long journey.  Although it only took two years for the physical symptoms to ruin my life, I lived 26 years believing absolutely nothing of myself.  The official diagnosis of my eating disorder was Anorexia Nervosa – Not Otherwise Specified, meaning there were multiple symptoms to my eating disorder (purging through self-induced vomiting, purging through exercise, no food intake, and laxatives).  The effects were almost immediate, and before I knew it, my health quickly started to fail me.  Not only were the numbers of my heart rate, body weight and BMI extremely low (and scary), but emotionally I felt unstable, numb, experienced loss of memory, fatigue, guilt, shame for body, and the list goes on.  As much as I knew things weren’t right in my life, the eating disorder tricked me into believing that gaining weight was more scary then how I was living my life at that moment.  I am thankful every day to have such supportive friends, and am amazing family who cared enough about me to get me the help I needed, even when I was adamant I had everything under control

My journey to recovery started at the Kingston General Hospital in Kingston, ON in July of 2012.  My first assessment at KGH was an evaluation with the nurse practitioner of the eating disorder program as well as the head psychiatrist.  Their first recommendation for me was to be admitted into an inpatient program in a hospital.  Unfortunately for those struggling with eating disorders in Ontario, there are only two hospitals with such a program, Ottawa General Hospital and Toronto General Hospital.  I was told that the wait list was two years long, but until then I could come once a week to the out-patient program at KGH.  Considering I thought the nurse practitioner and psychologist were “crazy” for wanting to admit me, I reluctantly began the out-patient program.  After approximately two months, I stopped attending the program as I found the environment to be too competitive and knew my symptoms were getting worse because of this.

 In the meantime, my parents, who were scared beyond belief, paid out of their pocket for me to see a private psychologist at home in Toronto who specialized in eating disorders.  I saw this woman twice a week for approximately one month.  I appreciated this woman as I could be completely honest with her about everything I was feeling, but felt an immense amount of guilt.  My parents were paying a fortune for this service, and I didn’t know how/believe I could get over this eating disorder.  As much as I loved going to these sessions and seeing this woman, and as much as I wanted to get better for my parents who were so supportive, I knew there was no one “forcing” me to eat, and I could not be this firm and disciplined with myself.  I still felt extremely trapped and consumed by this disease.

It was in October of 2012, approximately three months after being referred by the psychiatrist at Kingston General Hospital, did I get a call to for an assessment with Dr. Bissada of the eating disorder program at the Ottawa General Hospital in Ottawa, ON.  At the end of my assessment it was clear to Dr. Bissada that I needed to be admitted to the inpatient program, and as soon as possible.  The fear of my health failing me before I could get a bed in the hospital was a reality, one which scared my family to death.  I started to make weekly trips to Ottawa once a week for the in-patient readiness program.  There were approximately six other individuals who came to this programme each week, all of whom appeared to be in the same health conditions as myself.  More scary, all of whom who were also in complete denial that anything was wrong. 

Two more months went by, and in December of 2012 I was admitted into the inpatient program at OGH.  I will never forget the day my life changed, and for the very best way it could.  Making the choice to be admitted was the scariest decision I’ve ever made, but also the most important decision, as this program literally saved my life.  There are only six beds in this program, and as I learned more and more, those beds are reserved for only the sickest of the sick.  This is not something I am proud of, but something that I thank God for that I was able to get one of those beds.  Without the help of OGH and the wonderful doctors and nurses, I would not be able to share my story with you today. 

It saddens me that TOO many people out there, who struggle with the same eating disordered thoughts that I once did, do not have this opportunity to save their own lives.  Those living with eating disorders often do so in shame and with guilt as the famous lines, “just eat” are thrown at us as our only solution.  If we could “just eat”, then Anorexia Nervosa would not be a problem.  Unfortunately, the general public, anyone who hasn’t lived with an eating disorder, does not fully understand the experience of what it is to do so.  I am blessed with a family who tried so hard to support me, and to save my life, even if they had no idea where to begin.  Unfortunately, not every family is as supportive as mine, and there are many individuals who struggle with this disease alone.  Resources need to be created, or allocated to not only those who are struggling, but also for their families and friends who are desperately trying to know how they can help.

I recognize this post exceeds the 500 word limit, but I did not want to delete any of my story to save space.  The best part, which I have yet to share, is that thanks to OGH and the hard work I put into the program, I can proudly say I am two years into my own recovery from Anorexia Nervosa.  It is not easy, and every day is work, but I have learned that I am, and my life is, totally worth it.  I pray for the day that all those who struggle can learn to accept this truth as well.

No comments :

Post a Comment