That’s what the Eating Disorders Unit told me when they called to let me know they won’t be offering me any support. Apparently it won’t be possible to ‘isolate the eating disorder’ from my other problems, therefore their treatment won’t be effective.
I sat and listened patiently as the woman on the other end of the phone gave me a load of platitudes. She thinks I have good insight, and I can get the support I need from my private therapy. This, despite the fact that I’d already explained how my therapist is not a specialist in this area and is one of the people pushing me to find some expert help.
She also offered to help me find ‘resources’ (by that she means websites I can read) so I can get more information about anorexia. But it isn’t resources I need, it’s someone who can give me some guidance and help me strategise. I know what I’m dealing with. I don’t lack information, I lack knowledgeable support. It’s the same problem I always have; I know what’s good for me, I just need someone to help me do it. This psychologist seemed to have no perception of how hard it is for me to do the right things for myself.
It’s always just a game of ‘pass the buck’ when I go to the NHS for help. The EDU think it’s better for me to get support with all my issues from the Community Mental Health Team. The CMHT won’t offer me anything because I have my private therapy and they feel that is enough. I won’t consider ceasing that therapy to work with what they provide, because experience has taught me that; a) they don’t provide anything very useful, and b) I can’t rely on them being consistent. Anything I sign up to might have it’s funding pulled or get cancelled because of staffing problems.
That’s the awful, shitty reality. If you can’t pay for help, you don’t get help. How is that acceptable in this day and age? It was only a few weeks ago that the Health Secretary said mental health should be on a par with physical health in the NHS. It’s utter bullshit. They won’t intervene on my behalf until the situation is absolutely critical. I’ve read about people with anorexia deliberately making themselves sicker in order to access treatment. I’d hoped that was just a horror story, but now I realise it’s what people have to do.
I overheard some other patients talking about accessing help when I was in the psych ward recently. They were exchanging stories about how they’d sought treatment and been refused, even when they were actively suicidal. What they’d learned was that to get admitted, being suicidal wasn’t good enough anymore. You have to be a threat to others. So people are now using that tactic – they’re telling support workers they are a danger to the public because it’s that only way to get help. That is just totally fucked up.
I am so sick of being let down, ignored and disappointed by people whose job it is to help. After that call yesterday, I just sat and cried. I cried because I felt like an idiot for even asking. It’s bloody difficult to even take the step of making myself vulnerable and opening up to people in assessments like the one I had last week. So to then be rejected is crushing.
I went to that appointment, stressed and fearful and anxious, and pushed myself to be open and honest, to tell them things about myself I really didn’t want to say to strangers. Being told that none of that was good enough feels so massively rejecting. The message I take on board is that I’m making a fuss over nothing and should be able to work this out for myself.
All of this makes me want to just stop asking for things. I already struggle to reach out and admit I need support. Repeated experiences of this sort reinforce my sense that nobody wants to hear me or help me out. And it’s just too painful to keep making myself vulnerable, only to be sent away.
Photo credit: A of DooM, Creative Commons.