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E.D. Contact goes On-Line!

E.D. Contact is a new and positive Information Resource created by and for Families and Individuals living with Eating Distress in Ireland.







My Experience of Eating Distress 

Last year I bought an apartment. To many people I was just another first time buyer but for me it was a momentous occasion. Not only was it a commitment to the bank but it was a commitment to myself.  The commitment being that I plan to be around to enjoy this investment, I no longer want such a large portion of my earnings or my parents earnings to be used on treatment, I am adamant in wanting to enjoy and experience life.

Itís been a long journey. Iíve chosen a bumpy, roundabout route but whatís important is that Iím here, alive and kicking, enjoying life and without regret or bitterness. My destination was recovery but recovery Iíve found is learning to know and accept myself as well as experiencing life rather than existing. Fortunately itís an ongoing process and the barriers to allowing myself to enjoy the journey have lifted. Itís been an expensive recovery both for my parents and myself. Iíve been misunderstood and mistreated and have sunk to the depths of depression and despair with feelings of such unworthiness that Iíve wanted so badly to end it all, with death seeming the only way out at times. Iíve been frustrated at peopleís lack of understanding most of whom have been working in the very treatment programs Iíve found myself seeking help with. The funny thing is I donít know if I would be who I am, if I hadnít met them. This just proves to me how unique all our journeys are. Iíve learnt so much from all the encounters Iíve had with both other sufferers and therapists. One therapist told me that I needed to leave her program as I had had eating distress for too long and the treatment wasnít helping me. As I had no funding the options given to me were a public psychiatric hospital or to just go home. At the time I was at the other side of the world, far away from family and support. The railway tracks were becoming more and more attractive until I found the book ďHopeĒ and spoke to Gerry. My gut told me to trust him, believe in the hope he was sending me and so my real recovery began when I started in Marino. It was the first time my treatment focused on me as a person and not my behaviours. My dedicated therapist saw behind the layers of eating distress that had enmeshed who I was and has helped me piece my jigsaw puzzle together. It has taken time and it has not been smooth and the pieces still get moved around. I continue to evolve and change and learn. Iím human and itís a relief to know that life is about making mistakes and learning and I donít have to strive for perfection. 

Iím not perfect and never want to beÖ.how boring would that be!! I have made mistakes and I have hurt people but I have also helped people and brought happiness to people by just being me. But recovery is really not about other people. The world could love you and you could tiptoe around people so that nobody has any ill feelings towards you but as in eating distress it has no bearing if you hate yourself. I have tried to please people for most of my life. This way of life turned me into a china doll, fragile and afraid of moving, in case I rubbed someone up the wrong way and I broke. I lived for other people and was influenced so much by them that I lost who I was. My eating distress allowed me to cocoon myself in behaviours so I wouldnít feel or be open to hurt. Not only has it shielded me from life, it has also in the past shielded me from relationships and connecting with people. For many years I have walked around numb to the world feeling alone.  I often look back at past events with a hazy recollection.

At the beginning of my treatment and even up to the latter part of my recovery I have looked to those who are trying to help me for answers. I have wanted them to take away my pain. Again and again I have been told it comes from within, that there is no magic wand and that I need to walk the talk. This has been frustrating and I have often felt hopeless and helpless being told this. However, through guidance and learning new tools, through examination of my values and looking at my goals, through finding what meaning I can get out of life and being listened to and through hammering at the wall of behaviours that have in the past encased me, I have realised my own inner strength and will to recover. When recovery was focused on behaviours, I was expected to take away the building blocks that kept me up without being shown a scaffold to replace them. Behaviours are initially a means of survival, we cling onto them for a reason and for everyone those reasons are different. It takes time and patience to realise what you are gaining from having eating distress. Every experience Iíve found offers an opportunity to learn something new about myself. The more Iíve worked on my real identity the less power the eating distress has had over me.

My family sacrificed a lot to get me help. Sometimes the doctors who they relied on were clueless and left my family and I feeling hopeless but in a way this also developed my instinct and resilience to survive. I always had a belief in there being more to life than recovery being about maintaining a behaviour free existence and Marino have clarified this belief.

We never got funding in Ireland. At one period when I was in the UK the NHS paid for me to get treatment at a specialised eating disorder unit. I have been covered by VHI since I was a child yet it has never covered the costs any of my treatment. At one stage my family and I decided on more intensive treatment. As it was abroad it was not funded. Due to the fact my parents had pooled all their resources on treatment up to this point I paid for the program. Money I have to say is a hell of a motivation! I was very depressed at the time and wanted to hide and cocoon myself. However, any inkling I had to curl up and hide was dampened by the fact that thousands of my savings and a loan was being spent on this treatment.  Because I researched and chose that treatment for myself, because my parents supported me, because I paid for it and also due to the fact I wanted it to work, it did work and helped me to move forward out of a rut I had found myself in.

In many ways I have been fortunate but I also have made my own fortune. My mother said one day recently that my recovery is a miracle, whereas I see it as something I had an active role in. There are good people in the world who want to help like the people at Marino, itís sad to think that people struggle to get access to this help and some people never get this help. You have to either have a family whoíll give up a lot for you and find the resources from somewhere or you need to be rich to get treatment in Ireland. The government and health-boards need to fund treatment centres like Marino and they need to get money to the clients. However, the fact is, the world doesnít change in a day and I would hope that my story shows people that obstacles can be surmounted. We all have our own unique journey but we can gain strength from each otherís experiences. It is important to find treatment and it is important to fight for that treatment. Recovery is for everyone who chooses it. Even when you feel youíre not budging in recovery I believe, like a jumper, the pieces of your recovery are knitting together below the surface. There is hope and I take great pride in myself for being a survivor!

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