Supplementary Help

**TW: mild references to ED related behaviours**

Having been battling with my Eating Disorder since well before Christmas, and having been referred to the Dietitian for the third time in as many years, it was decided last week that Ensure supplement drinks should be re-introduced to give me a ‘bit more of what I need’.

I stewed over this over the weekend and, yesterday, saw the GP to discuss it a bit further.  Don’t misunderstand me, I wasn’t being stubborn, or non-compliant…I just wanted to query the fact that we don’t really know ‘what I need’, and suggest that I perhaps wasn’t lacking in any vitamin and minerals.  I know, I know…even as I type this I realise how unreasonable this sounds.  It’s classic ED-related behaviour, to think people are trying to trick you at every turn, hide calories from you.  For instance, the other night I challenged my Mum over a bowl of porridge I was supposed to eat for supper.  Anorexia led me to believe that she had made the porridge (and I’m giving away the fact that we don’t make porridge the old-fashioned way in this house!) with two sachets of oats (she hadn’t).

The reality, though, is that I’m running on empty much of the time.  I’m used to surviving on less than what I need and don’t really notice the constant hunger anymore.  I’m tired all the time (although this is probably partly due to medication).  If I lose control and binge, I feel no fear at the symptoms that arise when my blood sugar levels go haywire.  I purge without regard for the consequences.  The most recent development is a tingling/’pins and needles’ sensation down the front of each leg.

You can probably guess the response I got when I questioned the Dr over the merit of the aforementioned supplement drinks!  But I got even more than I bargained for when he started digging a bit deeper into my quite elaborate history of Mental Illness.  Having accepted a cancellation in order to be seen a bit quicker, I didn’t manage to get an appointment with my regular GP.  Instead, I saw someone I’ve met only once before (that I can recall).  Well, I can honestly say that it was possibly the most sensible conversation I’ve ever had with any health professional.  He spent a solid half hour with me, never made me feel rushed, or even checked the time (that I noticed).  He seemed to understand me, and what I feel, without me having to explain very much at all, and I wouldn’t call myself an open book by any stretch of the imagination.  He didn’t use any trite expression, but instead asked me if I felt that I exist on only a ‘cellular’ level – direct, and more than a little accurate.

I can’t describe the relief I felt at having finally connected with someone.  Someone who reassured me that distraction was a valid coping mechanism, and not ‘avoidance’.  Someone who agreed that therapy can sometimes (and in certain patients, I guess) be damaging over a prolonged period.  Why force someone to relentlessly face their problems head on, when it may be possible to co-exist with said problems in the background?  Someone who told me, yes, I most likely would always struggle with my MH, but that I could still ‘live’, that I don’t need to spend the rest of my life seeking a non-existent ‘cure’.

Finally, he queried whether ‘our chat’ had been helpful (I think you can infer the answer!) and told me that I could go back and see him any time, that he’d be happy to see me regularly if I felt it would be more beneficial than the arrangement I have with my current GP.  There is nothing wrong with my current GP – he’s always generous with his time, and has helped me through some shit times.  But sometimes a change of routine, eyes and ears can be the supplementary help that we all need from time to time.

Oh, and yes, I have now started taking the supplement drinks, which are not calories, but medicine.  This can be reinforced by the fact that the ‘raspberry milk’ flavoured drink tastes a bit like Pepto Bismol with three tablespoons of sugar added in.



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