I have had a few experiences of inpatient treatment for my eating disorder from ages 13 – 18 years.
One of these was a mixed adolescent ward with different young people with a wide range of mental health issues and the others were specialist units for eating disorders.
I found all of the places I went to to just be about feeding you up and getting you to a minimum weight and then sending you off.
They had set times for food and no work on how to be flexible around this.
Also, and this is the big one… the specialist eating disorder unit I was admitted to gave us set walks per day dependant on our BMI. So for “X” BMI we had a 10 minute walk, then two 10 minute walks, then two 20 minute walks each day. This really screwed me up!!!
I came out of the unit thinking that because I had been doing the walks in there that I had to forever. I thought that as it was a hospital and they gave me them, then surely I had to do that everyday to be healthy!!! It screwed me over big time and to be honest, still niggles me now.
I do not think it was good practice at all for somewhere that was meant to be for eating disorder recovery, where a large proportion of patients have exercise and movement compulsions they need to overcome.
The other thing was that when you got to a target weight set by a doctor, they put you on a maintenance plan and this meant taking something out from the diet they were prescribing you. Again, I don’t think this is good practice, as it reinforces the fear of eating more and ignoring hunger signals.
All in all, my experiences on eating disorder units haven’t been great. This is such a shame as so many people suffer and a lot of the time they still have set rules and routines around food and exercise when they leave and even pick up more in treatment, like I did.
So, now I am still in recovery but I am doing better than I ever was when I was actually in treatment. I am still working on weight gain and re-wiring my brain buy I have more determination now. I have no support now (no professional support anyway) – just that of my family.
All the help and advice I have found most helpful to me hasn’t come from treatment or health professionals which is a shame and a bit messed up I think! It has instead been from speaking to others who have recovered or are recovering themselves. I think that that is the most valuable form of help and reassurance sometimes.