SGG Episode 9:

Re-Educate Healthcare Professionals

One thing that's gotta give if we're really going to get to the other side of eating disorder, is the dearth of healthcare professionals who are knowledgeable about EDs. It can be an act of courage for someone with an eating disorder to come forward for help -- but finding it can be incredibly challenging. There are very few ED specialists in our healthcare system and very little training in EDs for doctors and other practitioners. Their lack of knowledge and sensitivity can alienate sufferers, leaving them feeling hopelessly misunderstood. The widespread myth that one can diagnose an eating disorder (or it's severity) based on how a person looks, leaves many sufferers believing they're just "not sick enough" to get the treatment and support they need -- driving them deeper into their mental illness. The notion that they aren't capable of knowing what support they need very often leaves them out of the treatment conversation altogether. ED sufferers not only need to find their voice and share their reality, they need to be heard.

1 Comment

  1. My daughter had anorexia 14 years ago when she was just 11 years old. When she got to the point where she had eaten virtually nothing for 3 days in a row we became very, very concerned and took her to our local clinic. The doctor we saw told us that she would eat when she was hungry and sent us home. Our daughter was obviously very ill and underweight and we were totally brushed off. The next day we took her to the emergency at our local hospital (we are from a small community) and the doctor there took one look at our daughter and told us to get on the next ferry and take her to emergency at Children's Hospital. Her heart was beating very low and she was admitted to Lions Gate as she was too medically ill to be in the Children's program. It all started with her giving up chocolate at Christmas and by Valentine's Day we were admitting her to the hospital. The doctor we dealt with at Lions Gate told us that we must have "skeletons in our closet" that we were not telling them as to what had caused our daughter to stop eating amongst other things that were meant to make us feel like we were to blame. One nurse told us that it was always the parents fault that girls got eating disorders. It was a horrible and long 3 month experience for our family. We did have a lovely psychiatrist who was very helpful for us and back home we had a counsellor who was also instrumental in helping in her recovery and in our family's recovery as well. Two weeks ago I had a call from a parent as her daughter has also just been diagnosed with anorexia. The same doctor who told us our daughter would eat when she was hungry, is doing the same thing with this young woman and her family. The doctor refuses to tell her mom if her daughter has gained weight or not, telling the mom that she doesn't trust her. She also tells the mom that this is just a "power struggle" that will eventually end, that the mom just needs to be "strong". I have heard over the years many of the same type of stories. The counsellor we saw here in our home town did try for awhile to get doctors together with her and go over a checklist of signs of eating disorders so that when a family came into their office with concerns, they may recognize it more readily. Although this was a great idea, I don't think it went anywhere. The good news is, 14 years later my daughter is just finishing off her second university degree and is becoming a registered nurse!

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