"Left feeling bigger, not better"
Posted by Anonymous
I've been struggling anorexia nervosa for a while now, I had an admission to a different psychiatric unit which I was discharged from about 2 months prior to my Leigh House admission, in June 2014, aside from multiple general hospital stays. Having had a previous admission at a different unit, it gave me some comparison. I would definitely say that Leigh House was the less preferable of the units, although I obviously didn't enjoy either admission. My outpatient team seemed incredibly keen for me to be admitted to Leigh House, telling me it was 'one of the best' in the area, however I was still very resistant to go. I felt very anxious and distressed being in a different unit, this was not addressed at all by the staff and after the initial 'admission meeting' I was very much left to get on with it. I felt lost and afraid, not given any idea of the rules, or timings - I found this particularly distressing, since being on the eating disorder programme, meal times are obviously a significantly dominant part of the day. At the first unit I was in, bedrooms were locked all day, only to be opened at bed time, at Leigh House you were allowed to use your bedroom whenever you had free time or weren't on supervision, whilst I think this is a positive thing, as having your own space is incredibly important, nobody told me I was allowed in my bedroom making me very upset until I realised other patients were doing it. I was also left to my own devices on my first day, no introductions were initiated by staff and I was feeling too upset and anxious to do it myself which the staff should have had more empathy regarding those feelings. The treatment programme was awful for me, it was very much the "feed you up" stereotype, the food was not balanced in anyway, I never caught a glance of the dietician, let alone speak to them, and it was repetitive and stodgy. There was no real help with managing intake, you were faced with a plate of terrifying food and expected to get on with it or sit at the table until the next meal, no other serious consequences for a long while. The eating disorder programme was immensely triggering and competitive which was actually encouraged by staff at times, an 'eating disorder specialist' asking us to 'rank' who we thought was most/least ill. I had an abysmal relationship with my consultant, feeling humiliated and ashamed of my illness and terrified of the staff. I think the worst part was the unanimous feeling of being punished for your illness, it was often implied by staff that it was your own fault for being unwell. I left at a higher weight but with little mental help, in fact my psychotherapist left a couple of weeks into my admission leaving the ward with one psychotherapist. Over all I felt my admission was only helpful in the aspect of weight restoration - although there was no help whatsoever in addressing body image which was incredibly hard - and I found starting a new medication helpful, some nurses and HCAs are amazing.