A WARRINGTON woman who has suffered from an eating disorder since the age of 16 has recorded a short video about living with the problem.
Eileen Macdonald, a service user volunteer at North West Boroughs Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, is also a trustee of Warrington Disability Partnership.
She has battled with anorexia nervosa since she was 16 and has bravely shared her story to mark Eating Disorders Awareness Week, which runs from February 26 to March 4.
In the video, Eileen talks openly about her personal experiences and how mental health care has changed over the past 40 years.
Eating Disorders Awareness Week is a national campaign run by the charity Beat, the UK’s eating disorder charity. This year the question being asked is “Why Wait?” On average, 149 weeks pass before those experiencing eating disorder symptoms seek help.
At the age of 16, Eileen started her battle with anorexia nervosa. She speaks about how she felt crippled by the illness, and several periods when she had to stay in hospital. However, with the right care and treatment, she is now able to manage the disorder.
Eileen said “At the time I was isolated in a room and the treatment was administered in an acute hospital not a specialist mental health hospital like it would be nowadays. I can remember quite clearly feeling like I was in a prison.
“When I was discharged I didn’t even see a psychologist, I just had to visit my GP each month so they could check that I wasn’t slipping back
“I was eventually signposted into what is known nowadays as a self-management programme. I then became a tutor to help others and this was one of the key elements of helping me regain control off my life”
Dr Sandeep Ranote, Eating Disorder lead at North West Boroughs Healthcare said: “Eating disorders are usually thought of as problems affecting teenagers and people in their twenties. However, there are significant numbers of middle aged people, especially women, who never recovered from adolescent eating problems or who develop these disorders for the first time in middle age. It is important that they too access advice, support and treatment as well as their carers, they can contact Beat and / or their GP for further advice”.
You can find out more about North West Boroughs Healthcare eating disorder service at: http://www.nwbh.nhs.uk/Eating-Disorders-Awareness-Week.
Anyone who is concerned that they or someone they know may have an eating disorder can also contact Beat’s helpline for support, advice and information on 0345 634 1414 or visit www.b-eat.co.uk
North West Boroughs Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust was previously known as 5 Boroughs Partnership and delivers treatment, support and guidance for a wide range of physical and mental health issues as well as learning disability services to people living in Warrington, Halton, Knowsley, Sefton, St Helens and Wigan.