Being diagnosed with an eating disorder is not a joyous occasion but it provides a medical reasoning for the food rules, anxieties, behaviours, weight manipulation & feeling of craziness that an eating disorder brings to our lives.
Once diagnosed we can feel relief & hope – now diagnosed, surely treatment can help us get better?
And, for those newly diagnosed, who have not been unwell for long, this can often be the case.
For the fortunate – good early treatment means they move into recovery & on with life.
Sadly, for those of us who have not had successful early treatment, may be older or have been ill with an eating disorder for longer, the label of SEED can be applied.
I was an adult when I developed anorexia nervosa and I had only been ill for approximately two years when the term Severe & Enduring Eating Disorder (SEED) was first applied to my case.
This felt like a punch to the stomach!
SEED implies a chronic illness, likely to be so enduring that it will take us to our graves.
It implies disability, that we’ll be fortunate to hold down a job or have relationships and an expectation that we will be a ‘revolving door’ case.
With the label, eating disorder specialists have advised me my options at best are to be kept ‘medically stable’ and supported to maintain a ‘quality of life’.
The SEED label can therefore carry psychological harm.
We can feel we are a lost cause, that there is no hope.
Doors to full treatment seem to close.
It feels we are deemed uncooperative, untreatable, failing the system.
No one with an eating disorder should ever be left to feel like this but it’s not uncommon.
I left specialist services for this very reason as I believe I can recover and I strive to get there. Anyone can overcome an eating disorder with the right approach and support.
The treatment I had in the past failed me for not empowering me with the skills and knowledge I needed to not just weight restore to an arbitrarily low target but to go all the way with weight gain and mentally rewire.
I strive to achieve this now.
It breaks my heart to know countless men & women have been labelled SEED and left believing their illness will always be with them.
If you have ever been made to feel you won’t recover, please don’t give up – we will prove them all wrong!