Right Time, Right Place, Right Therapist

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By: Frances Coleman-Williams

Having suffered from anorexia for over half my life, I had come to the conclusion life wasn’t worth fighting for. My belief that I was fundamentally flawed was confirmed every time I failed to get better. Restricting food and purging even the tiniest amounts sapped all my energy and I couldn’t think straight. I was exhausted, slowly killing myself and I didn’t care. The voice in my head was getting her way. She told me not to eat and told me she cared for me and wanted what was best for me. I believed her for many years. I’d failed at therapy after therapy and I couldn’t see even a chink of light in the darkness. No one seemed to understand me, they claimed they did but why then did they make ridiculous comments and talk so patronisingly to me?! I know I need to eat more but I CAN’T. I know I need to stop exercising but I CAN’T. I do not need educating, I need understanding.

I was dragging my sorry body down the road during one of the numerous walks I made myself do when I received a phone call from the dreaded Day Care offering me an appointment for an assessment. My heart was beating so hard I thought I was going to faint. I held it together and agreed to go in. The voice inside my head told me this was futile, ridiculous and that they would just make me fat. But something else within my shouted out that I could no longer live like this and something had to change, I needed help and this was worth a go. Of course, I feared I’d be turned away for being too well as I was convinced I was too fat to need intense support but they advised me to join the day program immediately. Again, the voice told me I should run away, they would make me fat and they’d not care for me as much as she did. Although lacking in energy and spirit, I was determined to make this time work. I decided I wasn’t going to throw this opportunity away. I decided I’d be completely honest and put a stop to my living hell once and for all. While at Day Care I was referred to a new therapist. I was skeptical to start with, I didn’t think he’d see me because he was a family therapist and usually saw sufferers with family members. But he saw me on my own. For the first time he was not doing therapy to me – previously experiences were of someone trying to do DBT, CBT etc to me, as though I was an illness that needed irradiating. For the first time he was open to who I was not what I was. For the first time I was with someone who would let me cry, scream or be silent and he wouldn’t judge me, try to stop me or talk about a finite number of sessions in which we had to ‘complete’ therapy. I saw this therapist for a few years, initially weekly, eventually monthly and I grew into the person I’m proud to be now. Yes, I gained weight, I had to to survive. But (equally importantly), I discovered who I was, what was important to me and I moved my eating disorder out of the centre of my life. I started working and got married and while these may not be the most important things in life, they are symbolic of my stability. There are still things I struggle with but I would say I’m recovered because these small things do not rule my life, nor do they stop me doing what I want.


About the Author:

Frances Coleman-Williams is a writer using personal and professional experience to fight stigma and discrimination faced by people with mental health problems.

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