I’ve been so humbled and overwhelmed with the increase in traffic to AnEarToHear recently. To receive emails from girls (And yes, sorry it is only girls… so far) who are bravely reaching out for help and support for their eating disorder is almost an honour. They open up, telling me of their highs and lows in equal measure, venting their frustrations at life, the illness and the daily challenges that they continue to face.
AnEarToHear was created out of frustration. Pure anguish after being flippantly brushed aside by a service that I felt was the answer to my recovery. At the time, I didn’t meet the precious criteria, the wait was going to be in excess of 4 months and in the meantime I was going to be left in limbo land waiting for just a consultation.
That period of time, is utter wilderness. There is so much confusion, so much loneliness and at times bewilderment. I found myself battling with myself and not only my anorexia but my self doubt and lowering self esteem.
In the face of my own experiences, I simply got angry- I went to new heights in bringing the service to account and whilst I should never have had to, I did resort to seeking out private treatment, without which I would have taken a very different route.
It was tough beyond all recognition.
Unfortunately, this is a tale that I continue to hear time and time again. A large percentage of the emails I receive report of similar experiences, finding themselves in that same wilderness. They are searching for an answer, for someone, anyone to help them. I’m not that answer, as much as I wish I was but I can be a listening ear.
So what can my advise be? Who can I signpost them to? As a peer listener, my role is to listen and comfort, but I can’t fix, as much as I so wish that I could. I can help with signposting to additional services, but what can I do when there is reluctance to seek help from their GP after being desensitised by the lack of compassion they have previously received.
Perhaps I can nudge them to their local community health teams, but this is one message I receive
“They said the wait time is about 18 weeks, no support in the mean time. That’s why I’m glad I found you and the class!” (Shameful plug of my service and YogaED there!)
So I guess this isn’t a blog, and please don’t mistake this for a moan about the NHS because it certainly isn’t that either.
I know that NHS funding, is stretched beyond all belief. Every single sector, every service and every unit in the country needs and deserves more money. The problem is, that there simply is not enough to go around. There isn’t a bottomless pit, as much as we would like there to be one.
Unfortunately mental health funding is still rather neglected, and requests to ring fence funds have been diluted into other avenues. Channel 4 recently highlighted this massive issues in their documentary featuring Mark Austin and his Daughter where statistics showed that 70% of un-ringfenced funding had been flitted away on other things including IT systems.
There has been been a cataclysmic rise in mental health issues seen on a daily basis. In spite of this however we know that “Mental health trusts in England received income increases of just 5.5% between 2012-13 and last year, whereas budgets for acute hospitals rose by 16.8% over the same period, new research by the thinktank shows.”
And we’re not counting the people who simply don’t have the courage to reach out for help.
We need to think outside the box.
We need to act collaboratively, not selfishly or with a precious intent in order to provide additional support to people where the NHS, out of no fault of their own, simply cannot provide that help.
We need to pool our resources, create our army against mental health, reduce the stigma but more importantly create the opportunity to care.
AnEarToHear is one of those options that I hope might just help in those days of complete isolation, I don’t promise, pretend or claim to have any answers. But I do have understanding and experience.
I also don’t have a vendetta against the NHS, the complete opposite in fact. I am proud of the plethora of services that are available to us and that we should be able to access freely and easily. The problem is from the top down and the answer- well I don’t have that- and in fact I don’t think anyone does. Will Brexit make any difference- Who knows, we don’t have time to wait to fin
If you have a service to offer that may help and support, please get in touch as I continue to increase my site traffic.
If you or a loved one are scared, lonely and in that awful period of isolation, please get in touch because we deserve to be heard.