This week is Eating Disorders Awareness Week. The focus this year is on the importance of early intervention and diagnosis. When I first became unwell, I was fortunate enough to have a GP who immediately referred me to the eating disorder service, and I was able to access treatment very quickly. To highlight the importance of this I am going to blog each day this week, to show the high intensity support that I am currently recieving from the NHS.
Wednesday – GP appointment
It was two weeks since I’d first sat in that small consultation room, on a single chair, wedged between the doctor’s desk and a large cabinet. It had taken me two weeks to pluck up the courage to come back, and say what I had meant to say the first time.
I knew this time I had to do it. I couldn’t walk out again without getting help. I knew I had to say the words.
“I’m finding it really difficult to eat.” Those were the words I used. I had chosen them carefully, practised saying them out loud. I had agonised over exactly what phrase to use. I couldn’t say “eating disorder” much less “anorexia”. I couldn’t say “worried” or “anxious”, those words caught in my throat, I knew they would choke me. So I chose simple words. Simple words, but they made my point. I knew that was all I had to do. I hoped my GP would take it from there.
So I took a deep breath and forced out those carefully practised words. I had done it. I had said it. Admitted it.
I wondered what would happen next.
If I’m honest, I don’t really remember. The rest of the appointment has faded from my memory. But it doesn’t matter. I had finally said what I needed to say. And my GP knew what to do.
Some time the next week I was sitting in the university library when my phone suddenly broke the silence by vibrating violently against the wooden desk. I was barely aware of the people around me, looking and tutting, their concentration disturbed. I could only look at the unknown number on the screen. I knew who it would be, and I hurried to a quiet corridor for some privacy.
“Hello, this is the Eating Disorder Service. I’m ringing to arrange an assessment for you.”
That was over a year ago now, but GP appointments have been a regular part of my life ever since. My first GP was fantastic. Ever since that initial appointment she kept in regular contact with me. I was always honest with her, I went to her when I was struggling, when I was in crisis. She kept in touch with the eating disorder service, she told them when she was concerned. I felt safe. Looked after.
I was sad to leave that doctor, but there was no choice when I moved across the country, back to my hometown. Now I have a new GP at my childhood surgery. I have only seen her a few times, but so far things seem to be going well. Today’s appointment was mostly an admin appointment. Repeat prescriptions. Sick certificate. Blood results. Weighing. The usual. But she also took the time to ask how I am finding things, how my mum is coping, what I am worried about. She wanted to know my thoughts on residential treatment, and on the medication I am taking. As I got up to leave she handed me my pile of paperwork and reminded me that she is always there, whenever I need to talk to her, just make an appointment.
“Take care,” she says smiling, “hang in there!”
I have an appointment every day this week and will be blogging about each one. Stay up to date and get notification of my latest posts by following this blog, signing up using your email address or following ChickenRisotto on Twitter (or go wild, do all three!)