Awareness, education and advocacy have become my passion when it comes to Mental Illness and Eating Disorders. I have so much more information to come, but I wanted to share this story with you. A simple letter I wrote using my voice has the potential to change many lives. Here is my story.
A few weeks ago, I went to my usual weekly therapy appointment, but was unfortunately not feeling well. My vitals were taken, a quick talk with my doctor, and then it was suggested I go to the ER for treatment of dehydration related to my ED. Things were not at all how I expected them to be. A few hours later, this is the email that I sent to my therapist:
“Hey… Thanks for your help today. I’ve gotten 2 liters of fluid already. Vitals still wacko and still orthostatic, and while still high, my heart rate is more stable which they like.
We really need more awareness and advocacy for EDs. The first doc I saw was great but at shift change this doc came in and asked me if I was really bulimic since I was overweight and then proceeded to tell me I’m a little old to be “acting like this”. He told me its what spoiled attention seeking teenage girls do….”
I was going to leave it at that. But my therapist encouraged me to use my voice, to stand up for others and myself. So I contacted the hospital regarding what was said and happened. This was the letter I sent to the hospital:
“Recently, I visited your ER for a severe case of dehydration. I had chest pain and my vitals were unstable and I was taken back immediately. I was treated with great care until the reason for my dehydration became known. I suffer from mental illness and an eating disorder. Unfortunately, the eating disorder had manifested in such a way that I needed to seek professional help for what could have been life-threatening symptoms.
The staff continued to treat me, however after the reason for my visit was identified, things were very different. I realized sitting in your ER that night that Mental Illness and Eating Disorder information needs to be brought to the attention of many health professionals, including your ER staff. I realize that the ER is not a “specialized” center for treating such illnesses, however I am a person that deserves just as much respect as any other patient.
I was not given that respect. Unfortunately, one doctor I saw told me that I just needed to “stop it” in regards to the eating disorder. What he failed to understand is that I have been in treatment for 2+ years and it is a mental disorder in which one cannot simply “stop”. After shift change, I saw a different doctor who belittled the situation and made me feel as if I was wasting his time, also telling me that I was overweight, therefore could not have an eating disorder. These comments were uninformed as well as extremely ill mannered.
Mental illness kills. Eating disorders kill. They are just as life threatening as the heart attack next door. I would appreciate it greatly if there was some effort put into making sure that all patients are treated with dignity and respect regardless of what brings them in to seeking medical attention.
I am a patient at the (XXXXX) receiving psychiatric treatment as well as seeing a therapist for my journey to wellness from this eating disorder that has nearly taken my life on many occasions.
Should you be interested, (and I hope you will take advantage of this opportunity), my therapist would love the opportunity to do a grand rounds for the hospital to educate on mental illness and eating disorders.
I would prefer at this time that my identity remain anonymous, however, for more information please contact:
(Therapist/ Center Info)
I hope you will take the time to consider informing your staff on these disorders that are indeed life-threatening.
Thank you for your time. “
My letter worked. The hospital as since contacted my therapist to discuss matters and we are hoping that soon he will be able to speak at the Hospital and educate on Mental Illness and Eating Disorders.
We can NOT afford to be silent. Stand Up. Fight Stigma. Change Lives.~Lindsay