I was collecting conditions as I used to collect china dolls. However my eating disorder presented a particular dilemma for services. Who should take her? I spent a long time being referred from community mental health services to specialist eating disorder facilities and back again. They debated which behaviour was the most ‘serious’ and regrettably the severity of my eating disorder was determined by my weight. On several occasions I was sectioned on mental health wards however these environments did not have the ability to support me with my eating. Professionals left me to ‘get on with it’, as a result I didn’t eat for weeks, making myself quite ill.
But one has to wonder is there really much benefit in differentiating between diagnoses? The relationship between my self harm and food restriction was clear, when one declined the other increased and vice versa. It appeared I was replacing one behaviour for another. Indeed may of the benefits brought by self harm were also brought by under or over eating. In fact some professionals described my restriction as a form of self harm.
It seems that underlining most mental disorders are the same disruptive thoughts which display themselves in different ways. I have known people with the same symptoms yet under different psychiatrists have received a completely different diagnosis. Is it really necessary to make such divisions? Of course diagnoses are important in giving professionals an oversight into an individual’s issues, presentation and possible treatment options. Yet perhaps if more consideration was paid to the symptoms instead of the diagnosis less prejudice would exist towards the more stigmatised mental health conditions. This would possibly work on dispelling the myth that an eating disorder is not a mental illness. Plus if we started to look at mental illness more broadly we might possibly discover effective new treatments not previously recommended for said categories.