Guest post from Hannah Brown on anorexia recovery and her new support service
This month my guest writer, Hannah Brown from Bedfordshire discusses her ongoing fight for NHS care and support for recovery from anorexia nervosa and how she is now offering others support through her bespoke peer-to-peer Eating Disorder (ED) recovery support service An Ear To Hear.
(Please note that due to the seriousness of this mental health condition, BANT Registered Nutritional Therapists (NT’s) are only able to give nutrition advice to individuals recovering from eating disorders under certain circumstances which include a BMI of 18+ and where NT has also undertaken the appropriate further training. They must also be working in conjunction with the individual’s doctor or consultant. All opinions and thoughts expressed belong to Hannah).
Nutritional support educates us on listening to our bodies’ cues, responding to our needs and giving our body the nutrients, goodness and vitality it deserves. But very often nutritional support does not even begin to scratch the surface of a greater evil and a greater force that destroys an existence, life and ultimately happiness.
Benefits of Improved Nutrition
It is essential that people recovering from a restrictive eating disorder first and foremost undergo weight restoration to a safe point. Full recovery from an eating disorder is possible and whilst focus on the mental illness is paramount to this recovery ultimately weight restoration is key. It is essential that the body has begun to heal from the inside which means nourishment, energy and ultimately food. This nourishment is absolutely imperative to give the body the strength to work on the cognitive aspects of the illness and to restore the body’s functions.
A simple diet, spiralled out of control for me at 19 years old and by the time I was 23 I had developed the soul destroying condition of anorexia. For people who do not understand or have experience of the gravity of this illness, it will be difficult to comprehend how one can lose their inability to eat, how they can give into the relentless urge to constantly exercise or how the pleas and cries from their loved ones can be so ignored.
The disease is a truly exhausting mental illness which touches so many facets of one’s life, facets that you do not ever expect to be vulnerable. But what is so imperative to the understanding of this illness is that Anorexia, Bulimia or any other manifestation of an eating disorder, is that this illness is first and foremost a very serious and incredibly dangerous mental illness. It is impossible to split the atom and it is equally impossible to split this illness into the physical and mental.
Unfortunately despite the work and efforts of professionals and members of the recovery community alike, there is still a lack of understanding, compassion and empathy. There are many reasons such as funding and time constraints, which mean that GP’s are almost scared of the ED patient and unfortunately this fear means that advise is given in bad taste or with disregards to its interpretation. Take my last experience for example: Have I thought about increasing my exercise as a way to stop the onset of Osteopenia?… or my favourite: How about I start my ED recovery by simply adding a dessert…
Not ‘sick’ enough to qualify for help…
Recently however, I was rather unhelpfully advised that my weight was not critical enough or was not showing any signs of consistently dropping and therefore would not be given the acute care I desperately needed. It was truly the worst moment in my quest for desperate help. In my mind, I was the sickest that I had ever been, I was at my lowest ebb and I was struggling to see a tunnel let alone a light at the end of it.
Fortunately I am strong enough, stable enough and supported enough not to let advice like this get to me. Instead I felt oddly violated – how dare someone judge me and make assumptions about my mental health based on my weight, a figure on the scale? Surely I am more than this- surely my mind is the heart of my wellbeing? Was I not sick enough to be cared for? Not good enough, not deserving…
This is where treatment has to change. It absolutely cannot continue in this manner and to do so would be negligent to every single mental health patient.
Resources for Recovery
We are blessed to have amazing resources and services such as B-eat who can guide and support the road back from a restrictive eating disorder. But most importantly is the care that you owe to your mental health. Your wellbeing starts with the mind and the soul, once those two areas are nourished and starting to blossom again, you will then be ready to take on new nutritional challenges, exciting and spontaneous adventures and start to live your beautiful life again with balance, peace and contentment.
Recovery is not a one way process, it’s not a simple fix, a one stop clinic. It’s a journey of total rediscovery- but enjoy it, live it and thrive on it, not many people get the opportunity to truly recreate themselves from the inside out.
This process might seem terrifying especially if you are feeling alone. But please know that there is an ear to hear. For full and frank peer support, through email or one to one consultation please get in touch. You’re not on your own and you deserve this opportunity to recover.
Let me listen to these fears
Hannah Brown, AnEartoHear
You can also contact Hannah by phone on 07575 393997 or by email firstname.lastname@example.org