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Private or NHS (assuming they care)help for eating disorder? could use support

(7 Posts)
musicposy Mon 14-Oct-13 22:28:40

Hi there, I could really use some advice.

I pretty much know I am anorexic. I seriously don't fit the demographic; I'm in my mid 40s with no food issues at all before this year. Because of this it's impossible to get taken seriously as apparently this is very rare. I mentioned to my GP on a visit about something else that I was struggling with eating and worried about the weight I had lost. It was a huge thing for me to say that to her as it's been a very long road to even admit to myself there is an issue, let alone anyone else. But she just brushed it off and said "Oh well, try to eat healthily." (eat doughnuts might have been better advice!) I then had the emergency GP out a couple of weeks back as my heartbeat had been over 130 all day and I was reacting to some medication. I cannot believe he didn't question my weight when he listened to my heart. Then I start thinking maybe I really am fat after all. sad

Family and friends are getting increasingly concerned and all anyone comments on is how thin I am. DH and my two DDs keep trying to make me eat. I usually give in to DD1 as it upsets her so much, but I run rings round DH, to be honest. If no one forces me to eat, I don't eat. I've become a person I don't recognise, lying to the people I love most and even I don't really understand why.

A friend of mine has an anorexic sister and she gave me the number of a lady this sister goes to who is apparently very good. Friend is literally begging me to make an appointment with this person, but it is private and money is tight.

On Thursday I'm due a follow up docs appointment I've been waiting weeks for to deal with the constant heart palpitations and fast heartbeat I'm getting. I'm wondering whether to push the anorexia issue.

But I'm worried about being brushed off again. Also being brushed off is dangerous; every time I'm ignored by the doctors it's like a kind of challenge; I'm not thin enough for them to see it so I lose even more weight. I'm also worried about it being on my medical records. I teach and I would have to disclose this on any new job application. They don't take kindly even to mild depression as I found out once before. sad

Sorry, that was long.

HoopHopes Tue 15-Oct-13 11:58:05

If you can afford it you will get quicker access to support and treatment options you choose privately. With NHS there are so many people needing funding from a small budget that people who have struggled for years, decades may still be waiting for resource and help.

I know little about anorexia but think perhaps it is the issues behind it that need addressing so could you ask your gp to refer you to the short term talking therapies treatment that all gp's have access to? Usually an assessment by phone then put on waiting list then 6 sessions either phone, group or 1:1? Worth a try?

There are quite a few eating disorder charities around. They have fortnightly support sessions which are free where I live, so may be worth looking around.

Totally get you that keeping things off the record helps in work. So keeping out of NHS system helps!! Could you book some private counselling sessions to talk through why you feel the need to lose enough weight for medical people to give you the help you need? If you identify the help you need you could look for it privately whilst you wait for NHS help if necessary.

I have a friend with anorexia. Her treatment ended up as 6 months inpatient, away from family, giving up her job and on return she found herself no better. Sigh. So that is all I know. She said being with anorexic people made her more competitive rather than focusing on her own recovery.

Can you focus on being kind to yourself? Doing nice things for you. Rather than hurting you?

HoopHopes Tue 15-Oct-13 12:01:11

Oh, sorry just read that money was tight. So worth trying charities and support groups? With adult ed's often NHS is not provided until a person is so ill sometimes. But you would also have to disclose it on current job applications, not just future ones - as if you dropped so much weight it would be obvious to work you were ill so they could send you to occupational health to assess fitness for work. Also if you continue to drop weight it can affect you physically, hence work would know etc.

MatildaWhispers Tue 15-Oct-13 14:17:58

Please do be completely open with your doctor (though I had anorexia as a teenager so I do understand how hard that is). I am not a doctor and I don't want to worry you unduly, but when people with anorexia get to a low weight they can end up with an imbalance of electrolytes and this can affect heart function. Please do mention it to your GP, just in case there is any link between your food intake and your heart problem. Sorry if I have worried you, but I could not read and not post this, given that I am aware of the link due to my own background.

musicposy Wed 16-Oct-13 01:00:16

Thank you for all that. DH apparently phoned the doc today and said he was concerned about me. She was reluctant to talk with him about me at all at first (we've only been married 20 years but I guess they have to keep confidence!). However, once she realised he was just voicing a concern she said she would keep it in mind. So I will go Thursday and see how it goes.

MatildaWhispers, I will certainly mention that about the heart. It is hard to be honest because I've got so used to pretending everything is fine - even to myself - for a long while.

HoopHopes, I have just started to go to a support group and it was brilliant. They seemed to think I did need some extra help. I'm sure services will be stretched as to what is available, though, and if a long wait means even another half stone off I'm going to be in real trouble. But I totally get the competitive thing. I did immediately think at the group "ooh they are thinner than me and still alive, I can lose more." In my saner moments I know I'm playing a very dangerous game. The sentence you wrote about being kind to myself made me cry. I really need to do that. It shouldn't be this hard.

I think I will see what transpires on Thursday. I may try to scrimp for some private as I've heard this private person is very good with eating disorders and I think it might be worth a try. I think any talking therapy would help. I think it was triggered by a physical event rather than psychological but it has definitely become psychological as time has gone on and I think unravelling some stuff might help.

Thank you flowers

MatildaWhispers Wed 16-Oct-13 14:48:24

Hopefully the fact that your husband has spoken with the GP already will mean that you will not get 'brushed off'.

I know what you mean when you say it is hard to be honest. I was also brushed off a few times in the past. To be honest it partly felt absolutely devastating that I had plucked up the courage to be honest and then I wasn't properly listened to, but it also partly felt like I had 'got away with it' and that by not listening to me the doctor had somehow given me a green light to carry on with restricting food. But if you have felt like that, please remember that is not the case - you really need to make your concerns heard, and if you are misunderstood then you need to put the doctor right as to exactly what your concerns are. That is the only way that you can be given the help that you need.

Think about whether you feel at a point now where you really, really want to get better. I say that not because I think it is as simple as you making a choice, of course it isn't simple at all as the behaviours and thoughts are so ingrained, but in my case I did find in the end that therapy helped me after I had already made the decision myself to get better. i.e. once I felt that I had far more to lose by staying in the grip of the illness as opposed to getting better. Good luck x

chocoreturns Wed 16-Oct-13 15:27:09

when I disclosed to my GP I was having eating problems I was 26. He looked me up and down and said he didn't think I looked that bad, and after all there was 'nothing for me' as it was a 'teenagers problem'. I could have died on the spot.

A year later I was diagnosed by a clinic with purging anorexia and went to outpatient treatment for 10 months.

The thing that made the most difference to me getting better though, was getting angry and fighting for myself. You don't need anyone to give you permission to get well. You don't need anyone to validate you for what you have been doing, or what made you unwell.

I know that is probably a hard truth to hear, but for me it was helpful to realise that the GP is only one overstretched person who may or may not have a particular interest or empathy for mental health. Ultimately, he was wrong. I was ill, and there are services for adults with ED. Did I gain anything from proving that? No. Nada.

You sound really aware and really motivated to change, which is brilliant. If you can focus on that, and the fact that your DH, DC and friends are all supporting you, you're on to a winning start. Ultimately the only person who can make you eat is you (god knows I know that now) so take the focus off the food for a bit, and think about yourself. What do YOU need to feel better about your life/the event that triggered your ED/your body etc?

The least helpful aspect of treatment for me was the dietician/weighing in etc. It was never about the food. It was about me, my sense of self. Once I focused on me, I got better. When I was fixated on the food I really couldn't. PM me if you like, I know how helpful it can be to chat x

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