Let me introduce you to your recovery support network. My journey has involved all of these supports and I will be forever grateful for each and every person, service provider, doctor and even fellow sufferer who has helped along the way.
Your Recovery Support Network
You are the most important person in your recovery journey. Owning your recovery does NOT mean you don’t ask for help. The first step to owning your recovery is making your choice to seek and ask for help. Please check out Aunty Pam’s Blog for articles that give some tips for living life in recovery or check out my self-help top ten coping tools.
Your Family and Friends
Your parents, husbands, wives, grandparents, children even and your close friends will most likely want to help but not know how to. Supporting someone with an eating disorder can be very distressing and frustrating. Check out supporting someone with an eating disorder for some of the tools I found useful for me and my family/friends and be sure to ask you medical professionals for more individualized suggestions.
It is imperative that you tell your GP as soon as possible so the right supports can be put in place and so your physical wellbeing can be closely monitored while you are still active in your illness and during recovery. I cannot stress enough the health implications of eating disorders which include heart failure, malnutrition, dehydration, kidney failure, gastrointestinal problems and more. Your GP will should also be able to refer you to a qualified mental health professional with ED specialism and a dietician as required to help you with the various aspects of your disease. In Asia, it is important to note that your GP may not have much experience of eating disorders so be patient as they find you the right resources and do not be afraid to do your own research or ask questions regarding the support channels mentioned below. You can refer to the warning signs and implications on this website or the more extensive lists available on the external links I provide in the links page.
Qualified Mental Health Professionals with ED Specialism
Depending on the stage or severity of the disorder there may be a need for one or more of the following mental health professionals to be involved in treatment. Psychiatrist, Psychologist, or registered counsellors treat the mental illness. Check for experience with eating disorders. These doctors and professionals will often have a wide variety of clients and this is perfectly fine. Having had experience in the past or present with eating disorder clients will definitely make the fit more natural. You may find you need to try more than one referral to find the right person to work with you. The relationship in therapy requires a lot of trust and so it is important you find someone you can trust.
Other Medical Consultants
Physical implications of the disorders need dealing with too. Depending on the individual case, there may be a need to visit a neurology specialist (eg. for seizures), heart specialist (eg, heart problems), nutritionist or dietician (malnourishment, education on nutritional requirements or even diabetes)… the list can go on. Be prepared be treated in pieces. These specialists excel in their field so work with them in being honest and willing to share the details of your illness rather than expecting them to be fully briefed on your case just because your GP or mental health professional has already asked about it.
Alternative Healthcare Providers
There are so many new and alternative supports to supplement your medical team. I have tried hypnotherapy, acupuncture and even massage therapy. Find what works best for you. Some things work better for some people than others. Just remember there is NO miracle cure so set your expectations appropriately and ask about their experience with clients with eating disorders.
Recovery Coaches and Recovery Assistants
Getting help from someone with experience of the disease and recovery is a great benefit. You may find them easier to relate to and this relating can be beneficial in getting to know yourself and your triggers/experiences and needs more. Globally it is commonplace that medical facilities will have consultants or assistants who have experienced the disease working with the clinical team as part of the recovery team.
Life and recovery coaches are fairly new but can offer support for the person in recovery. A coach differs from a mental health doctor or counsellor in that they use techniques to enable the person themselves to design their own personal recovery plan rather than treating the illness with medicine or specific behavioral therapies designed for the disease rather than an individual. Both the disease and the individual need attention. Coaches may leverage what you have found especially useful from your clinical treatment and help you to integrate the tools and strategies into your daily life.