I’ve seen fellow patients die of eating disorders. This needs tackling – fast

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I’ve seen fellow patients die of eating disorders. This needs tackling – fast

Yesterday (8th January, 2020) I had another article published in The Guardian. This responds to the recent publication of statistics, measuring the number of people who have been hospitalised for eating disorders. This number has risen sharply, recently. In the media, people are shocked at the apparent ‘epidemic’, more and more people falling ill, with an eating disorder. In the article, I talk about my own lived experience of having a complex, co-morbid (yes, very morbid. I mean combined with other disorders) eating disorder. I talk about my illness, the treatment I received (the good, the bad and the ugly), and my eventual, astonishing recovery. I hope to open stark truths about what goes on ‘behind the scenes’ in eating disorder clinics, where so many people die. I also hope to demonstrate that, with the right care, it is always possible to recover, and lead a wonderful life. My ‘lightbulb moment’ came at my very last admission, at Cotswold House EDU in Oxford (Oxford Health NHSFT), where I learned how to help myself, how to live well.

I know what it is like to be ill, I know what is needed to get well. Now, I am determined to help open access to better treatment, for all those who suffer with eating disorders.

We need to use stories like mine to convince politicians to give eating disorders treatment providers more funding, so they can provide good care, and to prevent more people from dying.

I want to connect stories of recovery and present these to NHSE, showing what works (where, how, why), what doesn’t work (where, how, why). The aim is to expand a network of recovery stories, open treatment possibilities, enable more people to get the help they need. This requires recruitment, education, expansion, inter-connectivity, and (of course) finance. This is not just for inpatient centres; we need to connect, apply and integrate services in the community (outside the ‘system’). We need to build a whole new model of care.

This can be done. It exists in the Oxford New Care Model, at Cotswold House (in and beyond Oxford, Marlborough, Buckinghamshire). We need to persuade NHSE to give funding to this model, so it can exist to help patients (as it did for me), and be expanded.

Meanwhile, there are other models, other treatment providers. Each person (patient, service user — always a person, not just an illness) is different, and may respond differently to treatment. But simply accessing treatment is hard enough. We need to work on enabling access to treatment, for it not to depend on weight/BMI — for a start.

Many thoughts, ideas, and things to do. Please read my article. If you are interested in helping me build a network of recovery stories, or you have ideas about the things that need to change, please send me a message (see ‘Contact’ on the left of this page).

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