Testimonies

When I was 16 I was diagnosed with anorexia and it took eight years for me to get the right treatment and start overcoming my eating disorder. Through-out those eight years I tried to maintain in school, college and university but with the anorexia consuming more of my mind I needed more support and specialist treatment. Alongside the eating disorder I also developed OCD and paranoia as well as issues with trust and body dysmorphia. 

At a time when I was ready to give up Lisa took my hand and helped me fight the demons in my head. She offered me reassurance every step of the way and was always there to rationalise my thoughts. We spent hours sitting at the dining room table together as tears streamed down my face with every mouthful I ate, but I knew it wasn’t a journey I was on alone. Having that regular contact and support from Lisa I gradually began to build that trust which previously felt impossible. It was at this point that my OCD and paranoia started to improve. Trust was a huge part of my eating disorder and establishing a good relationship where I felt supported enabled me to challenge other aspects of the illness. 

I had body image sessions with Sarah where we talked a lot about what ‘ideal body’ meant to me. From creating mood boards on body image to going clothes shopping, I knew I was supported and not alone on the journey. The more we spoke the more I realised I was striving for something unrealistic. In Lisa’s words “so you want to have a career, a family, and freedom but be a set BMI and follow a strict diet”. Hearing that aloud made me think I can’t have it all so I have to fight for what is going to give me happiness.  

Now 6 years on I have a fiancé, an 18month old and am a pharmacy manager but most of all I have freedom and happiness. My focus is everything but food, weight and exercise now and them 8 years I suffered seem like a past life. 

I will always be grateful for the support I received; everything from being passed a box of tissues for my tears to sharing a cocktail over a meal out on my birthday. 

I often think how my life and journey to recovery may of been different if I had of had the support earlier on, so if you are in the same situation as I was then please seek help. These professionals make a great team and together they can help you beat your eating disorder.

Lydia Butterfield

I was diagnosed with anorexia nervosa in 2010. I had always struggled with low confidence, trust issues, anxiety and depression, but I used anorexia as a method of self-punishment and an attempt to numb the overwhelming negative feelings towards myself. After 3 complex hospital admissions and having to leave university due to my eating disorder, in 2014 I was admitted to an inpatient unit where Julie, Sarah & Lisa worked. This proved to be my longest and most challenging admission, where I was forced to face all of the issues I had blocked out for so many years, including strong negative feelings towards myself and my body which had been reinforced from experiences in childhood and teenage years.

My work with Julie began with her obtaining my trust – something I had never done before. She was tremendously patient and kind, but also challenged my core beliefs. After the long while it took me to trust her, she began to delicately unpick the tangled knot of negative feelings, self-loathing and the underlying issues which had contributed to developing an eating disorder. Although she challenged me, I never once felt unsafe with her, even in the most difficult therapy sessions and I always felt as if she was “on my side” compared to other therapists, where I have felt they were battling against me/my eating disorder. When I started therapy with Julie, I would sit in silence for extended periods of time, but her patience, confidence and the feeling that she never gave up on me, meant that after some time, I was able to trust her and be completely honest with her; something I feel was integral to my progression in recovery.

Sarah was my body image therapist during my inpatient admission. The body image work started once I had started to progress in recovery physically; this was extremely challenging as I was not only faced with physical changes, but psychologically it was becoming harder as I was starting to fight the eating disorder, as opposed to always listening to it. Sarah worked closely with me to challenge these feelings around my body, including mirror work, clothes shopping and daily positives about myself – something I found exceedingly hard. We also set achievable goals that were reviewed weekly which helped me to start building my self-esteem. Alongside this, I would say Sarah gave me an insight into what life could be like. She was very down-to-earth and after being institutionalised for a significant period of arguably the best years of life where I should have been out enjoying myself, Sarah helped to remind me of what life outside could be like, but with sensitivity rather than adding to my guilt, self-hate or anger.

Lisa worked closely with me to empower me to help myself. She was patient, understanding and I always felt like she listened to me. She adapted and personalised my care plan to help me to progress to the best of my ability so that initially seemingly unreachable targets became more manageable. She worked closely with my consultant, nursing team, Julie and Sarah to make my care as integrated as possible so I never had to re-explain something I had already opened up about. She would always take the time to speak to me if I asked, even when she had multiple other priorities including managing a very busy inpatient unit!

Julie, Sarah & Lisa never once gave up on me; even though I am extremely aware I was a difficult patient with complex underlying disordered thinking, both around food and my mental health. They fought for me, especially when I was unable to fight for myself when I was most vulnerable to anorexia and resistant to treatment; however, they always kept pushing me towards recovery; helping to show me the right decisions and support me in making those in order to further my progress. I will always be grateful for all their support, care and the huge amounts of effort and patience they put into every moment of their work with me, including their non-judgmental and adaptable approach to my care.

This inpatient admission was my last and after 20 months, I was discharged in the summer of 2016. I am going into my 5th year of studying a 6-year medical degree which is a very physically and mentally demanding course – something I would never have been able to undertake before this treatment. I have lived independently since leaving the clinic and I was discharged from all community care 3 years ago.

 

Anonymous

I laid in my hospital bed and was told my anorexia was going to kill me. By that point, I was ready to let it. I had been struggling with the eating disorder for 3 years before it got to that point and it was now too late. I was tired of fighting. Fighting the people trying to help, fighting the eating disorder voice. 

I didn’t fear recovery because I was scared of food (who does not love food!) or because I was too scared of gaining weight and becoming ‘fat’.

I may have told you I felt fat, or that I was so scared of eating certain foods, but, it’s not that simple.

I couldn’t have begun my road to recovery without Sarah. She completely understood the illness and exactly how to challenge the ill thoughts and feelings. I felt like I could put all my trust in her to lead me through recovery and being able to trust someone in this way when struggling is so very important.

We worked a lot on body image where Sarah helped me through the struggle of weight gain throughout recovery. When you have an eating disorder, in your head, letting your body heal through weight gain means letting go of control, and more often than not, it takes a while for the head to catch up with the physical recovery. ⁣ Food preparation, Sarah and Lisa helped me learn how to trust food again and helped me feel confident when learning what was ok for my body and it’s needs. They also helped me learn how to be me again without the illness. I needed Sarah and Lisa around when dealing with these issues as without them, it was very easy to slip into ‘ill habits’

I can now say I’ve been fully recovered for over 6 years now and I do not look back and choosing to work with Sarah and Lisa had a huge impact on my recovery.

Food is now something I enjoy without feelings of guilt. I exercise and train purely because it’s something I enjoy and not because I feel I have to. The eating disorder is no longer a part of my life.

The service Sarah and Lisa can provide, is extremely important services. Having experienced numerous trips to the doctors and not receiving any help just meant the illness became more entrenched over time and that’s when I lost sight of who I was or I would be without the illness.

Sarah played a massive part in my recovery and I cannot thank her enough.

Charlotte Pollard