When working with my clients, I am always surprised by how many eating disorder professionals they’ve interacted with in the past have come out with, what I think are completely unprofessional and shocking comments.
- “You don’t look like you’ve got an eating disorder”
- “I’ve seen worse than you”
- “But you look like you eat”
I cannot believe that someone who is supposed to be knowledgeable and wants to help can say something so unhelpful. It amazes me! But then again, the same thing has happened to me.
After reaching out to my GP the first time I had anorexia, whilst struggling to fight, I developed bulimia. I was eating and I restored some weight. So everyone thought I was OK, even though inside I was screaming. But when I later started restricting and I weighed less than before, I visited the GP again. He told me he wasn’t going to refer me. He said I’d sorted myself out before and I could do it again. How did he know this? How did he know what was going on in my head? He’d judged me on how he’d seen me look physically. But eating disorders are nothing to do with what we look like!! Eating disorders are all about what goes on in our head. How we feel about ourselves. How we think that restricting will keep us safe and in control.
A couple of years ago I went for a routine health check at my doctor’s surgery, and because I no longer weigh myself (that number does not define me!) I told the nurse that I didn’t want to know my BMI and she said that was fine. I had to go back two weeks later to get the results. I saw another nurse this time and she started to go through everything with me. The next thing I know she’s telling me my BMI!! I was gobsmacked and asked how she knew because I didn’t get weighed at the first appointment. She breezily said that they had used my weight from a previous pill check (I step on the scales backwards) to calculate the BMI. Shocked and slightly emotional, I explained that I hadn’t wanted to know, that I’d had anorexia and I’d made the choice to not know my weight. She looked at me and casually said “Oh well, you know now”.
Luckily I had recovered by this point and had the tools to help relieve my anger about her attitude. But I couldn’t help thinking, what if I hadn’t fully recovered and this had triggered me?
There are so many professionals doing great things and helping lots of people but it seems that there seems to be a lack in fundamental training in some. I don’t expect GPs or nurses to be experts. I don’t expect professionals to be emotional when dealing with patients. I understand that they must deal with hundreds of people like me, but just because I am number 947 that they’ve seen, doesn’t mean their attitude towards me should be any different to the first person they ever saw. I am not a number, I am me, and I deserve respect and an understanding attitude. That’s what each and every one of my clients receive.
If you are struggling with an eating disorder, and want help from someone who treats you with respect, understanding and supports you every step of the way, book a call with me today to discuss if I can help you.