While this particular The New York Times article may focus on the situation in America, access to care is a devastating challenge faced also by many Australians suffering the torment of an eating disorder.
I have been incredibly fortunate to have been able to access some amazing long-term treatment for my eating disorder – treatment which has no doubt saved my life. Unfortunately, for many others, this sort of specialised care is simply out of reach, & they may face many additional years of suffering, or lose their lives to their illness, due to lack of appropriate support & intervention.
When i attended the Butterfly Foundation‘s Chrysalis Ball earlier this year, i heard the story of one family who, when their daughter fell ill with Anorexia Nervosa, were forced to sell their home to pay for her treatment. Not long after, the family’s second daughter fell victim to the same illness, & they found themselves unable to pay for her care.
It is an absolutely heartbreaking situation to have people & families suffering – & indeed, many losing their lives – when recovery is ABSOLUTELY possible, when people are given appropriate & affordable access to treatment.
People say that eating disorders are exceptionally difficult to treat, & indeed they are, but when we refuse to help those suffering until they are on the brink of death, & their illnesses are entrenched, do we really have any right to complain? Eating disorders are a devastating illness, both for the sufferer, & for those around them. They are serious, soul-destroying, & too frequently – lethal. Access to treatment should be appropriate, affordable, but most of all TIMELY. No-one says to a cancer patient, “Oh i’m sorry – you’re tumour is too small for us to treat you yet. Come back in 6 months time, once it has grown larger.”
I count my blessings frequently, for the life-saving treatment that i have received. I am thankful for my early diagnosis & for the incredible personalised & professional treatment that i have received. I am especially grateful that i was given access to this treatment long-term, allowing me the time i needed to feel confident in maintaining my recovery. My gratitude is immense, though the anger it causes me when i see others denied that same care is equally huge.
If you or someone you know is struggling with disordered eating, & you are looking for support, you can find a list of services in your state on The Butterfly Foundation website, or ask your GP for a referral to your local eating disorders service.
Edit: There are so many thoughts i could share, so many stats, on the topic of access to treatment, but at 5:30am this was about as in depth & coherent as i was going to get! 😉