A person’s a person no matter how small – Dr Seuss
There’s no sure fire way of overcoming any form of addiction. I’ve tried NHS therapy, private therapy and rehab. Nothing worked for me.
To cut a long story short I started my attempts at recovery as a day patient at an NHS eating disorder hospital. It turned out my fairly awful coping mechanism was to drink. And drink. And drink… so I found myself in an NHS detox facility for a week.
Turns out, however that the NHS won’t treat both addictions at the same time. So out of desperation my parents sent me to a private rehab which promised to detox me and then put me through therapy for both my eating disorder and alcohol dependency. It works for some, but it didn’t for me, wasting thousands and thousands of pounds.
The NHS place insisted on empty plates in 20 minutes, followed by desert, and snacks throughout the day. The private rehab had no time limit but wouldn’t allow any sugar or snacks. It was all so confusing.
So now I’m doing it my own way. I live with a chef who seems to get it much more than any of the professionals I worked with. He doesn’t give me massive portions, we put my food on a small plate to make it look more manageable. There’s no time limit or pressure to finish the whole plate and we choose healthy meals that avoid my fear foods while still covering the basic food groups.
Here goes nothing… or something, I hope…
The back story…
Step1: NHS eating disorder day patient treatment:
At the NHS hospital I was sent to as a day patient there were about 6 of us in a room, each with their own chair. Some were anorexic (of varying levels of severity) others were bulimic and others binge eaters. We were all, however, treated as the same. So besides from sitting in our chairs all day the schedule was thus:
1: breakfast, measured out by staff and with a time limit in which to eat it. I can’t remember exactly how long.
2. Snack – usually some form of chocolate or an alternative that matched the fat and calorie content (something I really disagreed with since all advice I have read is that you shouldn’t count calories). Anyway…
3. Lunch. This was always cooked and followed by two pots of ice cream which had to be put into a bowl – I don’t know why and remember being snitched on by another girl because I was eating them out of the pots. We had 20 minutes to finish this and the bathrooms were locked for an hour afterwards.
5. Dinner. Since we were day patients this was a sandwich to take home and eat. The bread had to have butter on it, and we were watched by staff with hawk eyes to make sure enough went in.
It was a hugely competitive place and very bitchy. I hated it and couldn’t handle the portions so eventually started drinking on my way in and also while in there to help me cope. It wasn’t long before I was discharged, something I was pretty relieved about.
Step 2: NHS alcohol detox week:
After being discharged from the eating disorder unit my drinking continued to escalate. My GP referred me to an inpatient detox facility for a week. They got me off the booze but didn’t care about what or when I ate. There was no aftercare. Needless to say I went straight back to drinking once I left – often with some of the girls I had been in there with.
Back to drinking, back to not eating properly. As I said previously the NHS won’t treat both at the same time so I was a bit hopeless, as were my parents who really didn’t know how to help me.
Step 3: Private rehab:
With my parents at their wits ends they started looking into private rehabs that would treat both my eating disorder and my continuing decent into alcoholism. Both are terms I detest but I have to accept that I suffer from them.
Anyway, they researched long and hard and I mean HARD – mum had pages and pages of details of different possible places. They considered South Africa but ruled it out because they wanted to be able to visit the place they were sending me first, even though SA rehabs are significantly cheaper.
Eventually they picked a company and visited two of its sites. One, the cheaper one, they hated. The other, which boasted an eating disorder specialist, they liked so off I went. Meals were strict but not timed, although I did have to remain at the table for 20 minutes after finishing.</p>
I spent 4 weeks there before moving to the other location as it offered more progression ending up in a sort of half way house type thing where you lived on site and volunteered. I won’t mention the name of the company but one site has folded since I left.
That was about a year ago and I am now doing it on my own and despite some lapses on the drinking front I think I’m starting to get better.
Where I am today
Just a few of the dishes my chef roomie has made me. All on small plates, all reasonable portions, and no pressure at all to polish it all off. Simply some gentle encouragement to give it a go.