An Open Letter to Anorexia Sufferers and their Loved Ones
Posted by Leon Hubert
17th Jun 2015

Tina shared this open letter to Anorexia sufferers with us. Please share your thoughts in the comments.

An Open Letter to Anorexia Sufferers and their Loved Ones. Please share on your timelines to reach all those suffering in silence:

This week I read a horrifying headline: Eating Disorder Patients’ Lives At Risk Due To Long Waits For NHS Treatment’. It is what many of us campaigning in the mental health sector have suspected for a long time, but seeing it confirmed in black and white made the stark facts no less upsetting.
For those who don’t know, here is what is happening:
The NHS can’t afford to treat very ill patients with eating disorders like anorexia or bulimia so, they are being sent home without anytreatment for months, sometimes years at a time.
Without vital intervention these patients – young girls and women, mostly – are getting more and more ill, some dying, while others become so unwell they are unable to make a full recovery.
This is a fact: eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of all mental illnesses.
Sufferers are needlessly dying therefore because the NHS is so desperately underfunded. It made me want to scream – but at the same time, I knew I wanted to reach out to all those desperate people waiting to be helped –all the young girls slowly starving themselves to death, praying for it to be over soon, and their terrified parents and loved ones on the sidelines, watching, helpless and incapable of rescuing their child. Because I have been there, I know what is going on and I want to say one thing: hold on! DON’T GIVE UP.
There is light at the end of the tunnel – there is hope that one day you will return to your life again, that you will wake up in the morning and want to get up, want to face others, be part of the world.
I spent years living in shame and fear of the stigma of my past illness so I know all too well how you all feel. I would not wish what I went through on my worst enemy. It was terrifying and I was desperately ill. I did not understand how Ill I was until I became well.
It’s very hard to explain to someone who has never been through it just how it feels or try and explain it. When you are very ill with an eating disorder, your brain does not function correctly. I believed at one point there were calories in air and tried to breathe less. I felt worthless, stupid, ugly, unworthy of love and so I tried to kill myself slowly on the whole and, at other times, quickly. That is what it means to have an eatingdisorder. And then to ask for help only to be told, ‘Sorry, we don’t have a bed/psychologist/specialist for you. You’ll have to go on the list’. It is horrifying.
The shortage of resources means in some places a very underweight child with a body mass index of about 15 is deemed not thin enough to get care. That can then motivate them to get thinner. When they don’t get treatment quickly, the risk of sudden death starts increasing. A waiting list is basically a weight-loss list. While someone is waiting for treatment, they generally continue to lose weight and that can be dangerous. As their health gets worse the risk of collapse or a cardiac event, or risk of a sudden death, or other risk associated with starvation, starts increasing and their mental health deteriorates significantly, too. It is little wonder the death rate for anorexia is 1 in 10 from either suicide or organ failure. And yet, if I attended A & E tonight with a broken leg – I would be treated right away. If I went with a psychotic episode or due to low weight and suicidal thought I would be sent home and referred for an appointment. How can that possibly help? If I got sent home with the broken leg there would be an outrage. But not with mental health issues. And yet broken minds are farmore dangerous and life-threatening than broken limbs.
I wrote my book Seconds to Snap in order to show just how quick and easy it is for a normal, healthy child to descend into the darkness and how it can take years to recover. But here is the very good news: anorexia is treatable and with the right therapy and support it is possible to beat the illness. I am living proof.
At one time I was so ill I did not move for weeks – I was kept in semi-comatose state on a ward, sectioned and fed through tubes. I prayed for death because living was so bloody painful. But I came through it and with years of counseling, support and help, I have gone on to live a rich and fulfilling life. There were setbacks, believe me, it was not an easy orquick journey to full health – for many years, I fought back depression about how I had spent my teenage years locked in a psychiatric ward instead of out enjoying my life like my friends. But once I had decided to live, to reallylive, there was no stopping me and looking backwards was no longer my favourite preoccupation.
I went up and up – literally! I flew planes, raised four children and landed a rewarding job. More than anything, I was lucky enough to find a wonderful husband who reminded me what it felt to be happy. I want to tell all those people who are now on the list, who might feel frightened, ashamed, unworthy, unloved, despairing, divorced from reality, disgusted bytheir own bodies and ready to throw in the towel to hang on. Hang on because I know you can do it. You can beat this disease and it might not be tomorrow or even the day after but I promise you, one day you will feel happy again. You will smile because that’s what your body feels like doing. And your body will no longer be your enemy.
Don’t give in to the demons, don’t give up on yourself. Because somewhere out there your future is waiting for you. It has always been there, waiting for you to press the start button again whenever you are ready. One day you will be better. One day you will be rid of this illness forever. I promise. Tina x

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