“The most humiliating part of treatment was being weighed in my underwear twice a week and having to request that my bathroom door be unlocked at the nursing station.”
Kate Le Page was diagnosed with anorexia nervosa. During her hospitalizations, she found solace in writing poetry, which helped her to express intense emotions. Kate was recently awarded a diploma in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. She wrote about her journey in the hope of raising awareness. This is Kate’s story:
I am Kate, 31, and in recovery from anorexia. My experience in seeking treatment has taught me that often you have to fight the system and persist until your voice is heard.
I first sought treatment in 1995, when I was 17 and in the early stages of the illness. My family doctor weighed me and immediately prescribed antidepressants and monthly meetings. He would either increase or switch my medication every time he weighed me, but the medication had little or no impact. I was later diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue and referred to a specialist who gave me different medication and prescribed a graduated exercise programme to rebuild my strength. Looking back, it is rather ironic that the exercise program eventually landed me in the Eating Disorder Unit.
In 1998, my family doctor finally diagnosed me with anorexia nervosa and prescribed different medication that made me so wired, I completely lost what little appetite I had left and lost more weight. I received counselling at university but it did not help much as the counsellor had very limited experience in treating the illness. I was eventually referred to the local hospital’s Eating Disorder Service, which involved a fifteen-minute chat with a dietitian.
Years went by and although my eating disorder worsened, I was very wary of seeking further treatment. It wasn’t until 2001 that I received real help, when I met my current doctor who had significant experience in treating mental health patients. For the first time, I felt truly understood, and remained under only his care.
The following year, my eating disorder was at its worst; I had to give up my job working with pre-school children and my relationship with my boyfriend ended. My doctor referred me to a Clinic and within a month, I was admitted to the Hospital’s Eating Disorders Unit. Nothing could have prepared me for the mentally, emotionally, and physically challenging work that lay ahead. Eating 3,000 calories a day and doing limited exercise felt, at times, unbearable and, were it not for the tremendous support from doctors, therapists, nutritionists, nurses and most significantly other in-patients, it would have been virtually impossible.
The most humiliating part of treatment was being weighed in my underwear twice a week and having to request that my bathroom door be unlocked at the nursing station. I had a fantastic therapist who taught me to understand the illness and recovery process. However, despite having convinced everyone that I was ‘in recovery’, I had secretly been binging on my visits home in order to reach my target weight and be quickly discharged.
My therapist and the EDU manager tried to convince to stay but my Consultant agreed to my discharge. I returned home physically stronger, but mentally very low. Within four months, I was readmitted to the EDU and gave it everything I had because I realized that “life on the outside”, as an anorexic, was sheer hell.
The second admission was much harder than the first as I had to learn to be honest about my feelings and work through some traumatic experiences. However, I made some very close friends and we spent much time laughing, crying and singing together! I found that through experiencing the changes necessary for recovery with those close to me, I gained strength and received a new perspective on the whole process.
By summer 2003, I was ready to return home and had an excellent care team in place. For the following two years, I regularly saw my GP, dietitian, therapist and eating disorder consultant, and attended weekly group meetings. Since then, I have lived wonderful times of freedom from anorexia as well as periods of desperation and relapse. I see recovery as something I must choose daily. I follow a menu plan, respect my exercise contract, take my medication, and continue working with my Cognitive Analytical therapist. I recently wrote a book about my journey, entitled “Goodbye Ana”, which includes information about what has helped me to remain well.
Did you enjoy reading “I am Kate, 31, and in recovery from anorexia”? To be notified of newly published articles, simply click on the above Subscribe button