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






Yeah, I was in a well known Dublin specialised hospital  for 12 weeks.  Here is my own experience.

I first met the consultant for a preliminary meeting before I was admitted.  He explained his interpretation of how the programme worked but was quite vague about the details.  He also gave me loads of statistics and information on the success rate of his programme.  This conversation instilled a sense of hope in me and a sense that the programme could work for me (how wrong was I).

Whilst on the course, we were supposed to meet him once a week for about 5 to 10 minutes each.  He would ask about how we were getting on but that was about it.  Had the lady in charge of the programme flagged anything of concern to him prior to the meeting, he may have brought that up too.  The first time I met him after I was admitted, he threatened to throw me off the programme because I was 'complaining too much'. In fact, the only complaining I had done was to inform them that the food was too cold (even hot meals were cold - and every patient on the ward agreed, whether they were on the programme or not).

As for the food, I wasn't the only one who complained.  At one stage the entire female ward (and remember that EVERYBODY, regardless of the condition, shared the same wards), refused to eat the food and signed a petition complaining about the poor quality of it.

The consultant was also not impressed that I had asked for more tea on a couple of occasions.  This was when I knew that the programme was not going to work for me (about day 3 or 4 of the programme).
I felt that he spent very little time with us or helping us to recover.  We only saw him for that one short meeting each week.  That was it.
As for one-to-one counselling, he didn't do any.

There was a staff there yes, but only the lady second in command to the consultant , was full time committed to us (although we didn't see her all the time either).  The other staff members who dealt with us, also dealt with other patients who were in for other conditions.

My personal experience copper fastens my belief that they really haven't a clue how to deal with the condition, they are insecure about their treatment methods and they certainly don't want to be open to public scrutiny.

Most of the other patients were suffering from various other 'categories' of depression and/or mental disorder.  Most of them were elderly too.  The other staff had to deal with all their issues too, including the administration of medication, and all other nursing duties.  They didn't share our programme, but we shared the same dining room, that's was all.  I felt particularly humiliated because I had to spend the whole day on the women's ward (it could just have easily eaten on the menís' ward, but then again, none of the staff on the male ward knew the first thing about ED.

Weight gain is the primary focus on this programme.  You are weighed on a very regular basis and you have to make certain gains each week.  I wasn't making any progress at first (despite NOT resisting and actually asking for more food), so they started to mistrust me.
There is a set food plan, and everybody gets it, male, female, large, small, overweight or emaciated.  Personally, I felt that this was ridiculous.  I was given the same amount of food as would be appropriate for a young teenage girl, even though I was a 6 foot tall male in his early twenties (I'm still 6 feet tall and male by the way, lol).  So, it was no wonder that I couldn't gain weight at the start.
After all meals, we had to go to our rest room and just sit for 1/2 an hour.  That was torture because it was so boring.  They also refused to take into consideration individual differences in food and took no account of the state of a sufferer's digestion system.  Curry and other irritating foodstuffs were regularly on the menu and you ALWAYS had to have a three course meal followed by two slices of bread with butter and jam - problem with this is that it bore no resemblance with what constituted a normal diet.  Who the hell eats bread and jam after a curry?
For 'therapy', we had group sessions where we were supposed to set goals about what we wanted to do with our lives.  Again, I felt that this was a complete waste of time because the things we considered were just a means of filling time rather than dealing with the condition.
We also had to cook a meal once a week and, on that day, around week 8 I think, we also had to go to town and get the ingredients for that meal.  If we went out, we also had to eat out.  I never did it because I decided I wanted to resume my studies and they agreed to it.  In truth, I just wanted to get away from the group. I was starting to lose all patience with them because we were having countless petty arguments and stuff (real big brother scenario).

Finally, I can recall only three other activities.  First, there were art and craft classes that we were told to go to.  I have ZERO interest in them, but they didn't care.  Secondly, we were obliged to go to a relaxation class where we did muscular tensing/relaxing exercises with visualisation.  Boring as hell and, again, I had no interest.
Overall, while I don't know what the theory of the programme was, I do know that it could not work.  All it did was to create a differently programmed robot.

I refused all medication when I was on the programme.  But, all of the others were on something or other.  I even saw one girl regularly request an increase in her medication and she usually got it.  I also talked to people getting the electric shock treatment.  They'd come back to the ward looking like zombies.
As regards one-on-one therapy, there was none.  I requested it, it was refused, and I pleaded for some, so they assigned a student doing her PhD to me.  Sure, she was nice to talk to, but couldn't hope to help me because she didn't understand the condition.

 All this was a dreadful experience and I could not wait to get out.  In fact, I rebelled and the ONLY time when I found sanity and freedom was when I started to sneak out every evening and go for a short jog in Phoenix Park.  God, I felt so free during that time 20 minute experience   



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