The Guardian reported recently that “the number of patients admitted to hospital with potentially life threatening eating disorders has nearly doubled over the past six years” (Sharp Rise in Admissions for Eating Disorders, 13/02/18). They reported that the figure had risen from 7,260 in 2010-11, to 13,885 in the year ending April 2017. A chart shows the numbers rising steadily over that period.
The Guardian is concerned with the lack of funding for community services, leading to sufferers being admitted, fed up to an acceptable weight, then sent home and abandoned, where they lose all that weight and become anorexic again. A woman called Becki Copley calls it “the cycle of discharge and readmission”.
I guess this has been my experience. Abi, the eating disorders specialist, always said that you couldn’t think straight about your condition until your brain was no longer starved. The problem is that, once you reach a healthy weight, you then need to address whatever it was that caused the anorexia in the first place, but this is the point that you are discharged and left without NHS support. I was briefly and, in retrospect, I think rather disdainfully assessed by an NHS psychiatrist, at one point, who saw me twice and confirmed that I wasn’t suffering from depression, and didn’t need any further medication. There was never any question of the Health Service providing me with any psychological or counselling support, either while I was being treated or when I had reached my target weight. They couldn’t afford it. And I guess I wasn’t ill enough.
I found being discharged a great relief. I hated being scrutinised and assessed and asked bluntly why I hadn’t gained weight. I hated the physical effort it took to get to the joyless appointments, although I really, genuinely, liked and admired Abi and the dietician they assigned me, and was very grateful to them.
So I immediately began to lose weight again. It became apparent that one of my motivations for getting better was to avoid their displeasure. Now I was free to restrict my eating and increase my exercising once again. I could go back to proving to myself and those around me that something wasn’t right, that I’m genuinely ill, not just an unpleasant little toad, etc. etc.
My weight has steadily dropped, since then. In fact, I rather like the idea of being committed. It would be a relief to relinquish all control of food. Is that what I’m sub-consciously aiming for? But, I suspect I would gain weight, be discharged and then start losing weight again: “the cycle of discharge and readmission”.