A girl with too many thoughts...

Thursday, 4 May 2017

ED Recovery: What to Expect in your First Appointment(s)

I thought I would document bits and bobs of my eating disorder recovery journey on my blog (yes, I used the J word). I hope for it to be useful to anybody who is currently embarking on the same journey and would like to read an experience they can relate to. Or, if you want to start on the road to recovery but are scared to, I hope I can help to reassure you.

Last week I had my first appointment with the adult eating disorder service in my area. I have had numerous assessments with adult mental health services before, earlier on in the year when I was at university. However, I never actually started therapy with them and they instead suggested I'd be better off recovering at home, where they referred me to my local ED service (which I explained in a little more detail in this post).

Last week's appointment consisted of yet another assessment and so I thought I would write a bit about what you can expect when you first begin to seek help for your eating disorder. Of course, this is my experience with my local service and different areas will offer slightly different services, who will all do things slightly differently. Nonetheless, there is usually a general way that they have to do things and certain guidelines to follow.

When you first begin to see a mental health service, they will often carry out an assessment so that they can plan how they're going to work with you. This may just take up the first appointment, or run over a few. Either way, it's not as scary as it sounds (the word 'assessment' makes it sound like some sort of test but I can assure you it's not).

Basically, they want to find out a bit more about you and your history, and your experience with your mental health. When did you start experiencing problems? Have you been under care of mental health services before? How long for? Did you have any other health conditions growing up?

Lots of questions.

They will then want to find out a bit more about your current experience. In an eating disorder assessment, they will probably ask you to go into a little more detail about your current thoughts, feelings and behaviour around food, self-esteem, body image etc., as well as your day-to-day mood and functioning.

Based on what you've told them during the assessment, they may give you a diagnosis there and then. They will then say whether they think their service is best suited to you and if it is, tell you a little more about what support they can offer. You may like to discuss with them a sort of 'plan of action' of how you wish to proceed with treatment and what you would like to get out of it overall.

The idea of somebody sitting there and 'interrogating' you about this stuff can understandably seem daunting and off-putting. However, it's important to remember that this is your story, nobody else's. You know about your experience better than anybody. It's okay to feel nervous, it's okay to take your time to answer questions and it's natural to feel uncomfortable when sharing things that are personal to you.

Nonetheless, it's important to remember that the person leading the session is there to help you, so it's in your interest to be as open and honest as possible. Only this way will you receive the right kind of treatment for you. They aren't there to trip you up, judge you or accuse you of anything - and they are likely to have encountered very similar situations before.

I'm not going to lie, those first few steps towards recovery are probably going to feel pretty darn scary. But it is vital that you take the necessary steps if you want to get better. Things will become easier the further along the path you go and in the end, it'll all be worth it. Trust me on this one.

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