I love Catherine's blog as she is honest during the difficult times and also has a desire to help others who are suffering. Before I mention Eating Disorder treatment in the UK and other parts of the word I want to say that I am a huge fan of the NHS and it's staff having worked for them as a nurse for many years. The areas that are lacking however are ED treatment, addiction treatment and the treatment of many mental health issues in combination with the two (dual-diagnosis). They simply don't have the resources or finances available to deal correctly with what are hugely complex and difficult conditions to treat. People often don't get the support until they are admitted as an emergency and by that time it is too late. People die because of lack of knowledge about treatment and of course the cost of treating these conditions can be vast so they are often brushed under the carpet and forgotten about. Private treatment in the UK is costly and often the same rules apply about lack of knowledge and specialty staff and treatments. Eating Disorder clients often need a minimum of three to six months in treatment and people simply cannot afford it. That's why we have UK clients coming to South Africa for quality Eating Disorder Treatment at about a tenth of the cost of private treatment in other countries. The support here in Cape Town is incredible and that's why I love working with our specialist ED treatment centre here in Cape Town. There is hope and people do recover despite blips and problems along the way and Cathy is a living, breathing example of that so over to her!
News of the death of 19yr old Averil Hart hit me hard at the end of last week. I felt so angry that it was allowed to happen - that in the 21st Century in a First World country, a young woman could starve to death. But the reality is, this happens. I have known people this has happened to. An adult with an eating disorder in this country waits on average 5mths for treatment. A child or adolescent 4wks. This is not acceptable. But what is worse is that Averil was known to services yet still slipped through the net. My first crisis happened nearly 13yrs ago. I collapsed like Averil and was admitted to hospital where I was left to my own devices and lost even more weight. As with Averil, no ED specialist came to see me for several days. It got to the point where I could no longer walk, I had no control over my bowels and was slipping in and out of consciousness before they even thought to place an NG tube and administer IV fluids. Basic surely? I nearly died. Averil did die. I was lucky.
I am lucky. And today I am really feeling it. It was my birthday yesterday and what change a year has brought about. I spent yesterday with my family at my parents' house. As I watched my little nieces play I was very aware of what I so nearly lost. A year ago I was in hospital recovering from a broken spine amongst other injuries. I was in nappies. I was in pain. I was starving. I wasn't physically strong enough due to my anorexia to do the physio I needed. Yet somehow I still found the strength to pace the corridors, ignoring the agony. I was refusing my pain medication, believing I deserved to suffer. I was broken and I thought I was beyond repair. I refused to see my family - I was too ashamed. They were hurt, angry and pretty much devastated. But just the other day my mother told me she is proud of what I have achieved this year. How my heart sang to hear those words from her! I can't take away what I did last year. I can't undo it. But I am determined to lead the best life I can. For now that is taking things one day at a time, sometimes one hour at a time. I can't erase the past and I don't know what the future holds for me so the best thing I can do is cherish the present.