A couple of years ago I made a short video with Fixers about what it’s like to be sectioned for an eating disorder. This came about after I saw a comment online saying, “I wish I could be sectioned so that I could have a hug” I was utterly shocked by this. Being sectioned is not something I have ever wanted to happen to me and hugs are very rare when you are in hospital. After reading the shocking comment, I made ‘sectioned’ which can be watched here.
My life has changed a lot since then, a lot has happened and when I watch the video now I wish I could update it so I thought I’d do it in a blog post. In the video I had only experienced being sectioned under section 2 of the mental health act. I have now been detained under section 3 of the mental health act since 2015 and this is still on going.
In the video I talk briefly about the two weeks I spent on level 3 which is where a member of staff remains with you at all times, this includes in the shower/bath, on the toilet and whilst sleeping. I have now been on level 4 2:1 for 2 months and this is also ongoing. This means two members of staff are within arms length of me at all times. So now it’s not one pair of eyes on me while I sleep, go to the toilet, shower etc but two pairs of eyes on me. I haven’t gone to the toilet unsupervised since May 2016.
My ‘choice’ remains the same. I have to drink sickly, gloopy supplements or they go down the tube I have up my nose. The difference is that now I can’t bare to let it touch my lips and so everything goes down the NG tube. I say ‘choice’ because I don’t really get a choice, I have to have the supplement drink one way or another. Some days I am restrained whilst they pump the feed down my tube.
I still feel my skin crawling with calories, itching, bubbling. Maybe this sensation will always remain with me around food, maybe it will never go away and that scares me.
In the video, I say “The final section, I hope it was” and I am gutted to say it wasn’t, I have a few more to add to this list. I wish my update was that I was living a normal life and the facts of the video had not changed. I wish I could say I was well rather than wishing I could remake the video to fit with my current circumstances.
My message remains the same: Mental illnesses are not fashion accessories, eating disorders are not glamorous and being detained under the mental health act is not something to strive for. This is still my life and I would not wish it upon anyone.
This Eating Disorders Awareness Week you may want to check out the following videos:
Firstly there is a talk about anorexia nervosa. It was performed at Ignite Cardiff and is titled ‘pro ana?! Pro life!’ It is about the realities of living with an eating disorder compared to the idealised views of the pro-anorexia community. It is also about overcoming eating disorders and sends the message out that ‘life can change in a minute.’ You can watch the talk here
Next we have a video about being sectioned for an eating disorder. It was created with Fixers, a U.K. charity and was brought about after seeing a comment on social media saying, “I want to be sectioned so that I can have a hug whenever I’m sad.” You can watch the video here
Finally we have a TV programme called ‘The Feel Happy Fix’ which was recorded live from the ITV studios by Fixers UK. It’s a programme that focuses on young people’s mental health in general but many of the young panelists have personal experience of an eating disorder. You can watch it here
Last August I was sectioned under the Mental Health Act and spend two months in hospital. When I was discharged I decided that I wanted to do something with my life and turn a negative into a positive and so I began working with Fixers. Around the same time I noticed a lot of pro-ana and pro-mental illness posts appearing all over social networking and one comment that really stuck out to me was someone saying that they wanted to be sectioned so that they could have a hug whenever their sad. I was also shocked by the amount of comments about mental illness being fashionable and people likening the psychiatric ward to a big sleepover but that is not the reality.
I wrote a spoken word piece and used my photography along with Fixer’s filming and editing to create a piece to explain what being sectioned is like from a patient’s perspective whilst also targeting the groups in social media that aspire to be unwell. Being sectioned often feels like something I should keep secret and be ashamed of so that’s exactly why I decided to shout about it publicly. There should be no stigma.
Feel free to share this video and spread it’s message.
Earlier this month I was lucky enough to go to London with UK charity Fixers to talk about young people’s mental health. The event was held at BFI, London in the morning and we watched some of the educational and inspring films that Fixers have produced on mental health which can be found here: http://www.fixers.org.uk/
We then separated into groups to focus on six key sections which were: Health Care, The Media, School, Home, Work and Play. Young people discussed the issues in these sections and came up with solutions as to how young people could be happier in these places, for example if schools were to offer mental health education it would be of huge benefit to young people and enable them to feel happier and support one another.
In the afternoon we went to the ITV studios for a Question Time-style debate. Anna Williamson was our presenter and I was lucky enough to be one of the six panelists. All of the panelists had personal experience of mental health problems and drew from their experiences in order to answer questions, highlight issues and offer solutions and advice.
The ‘Feel Happy Fix Live’ debate was streamed on Youtube last night at 8pm. You can watch the debate here:
The panelists are Danny Bowman, Shannon Finan, Carney Bonner, Laura Quinn and Jordan Caldwell alongside me, Claire Greaves. To find out more about The Feel Happy Fix Live, please visit http://www.fixers.org.uk/feel-happy-fix/the-feel-happy-fix-live.php
I am a fixer. Fixers are a UK charity enabling young people to use their past to fix the future. I am working on a project about my experience of being sectioned for my eating disorder but unfortunately I cannot share it with you yet as it isn’t finished. However, I have found some fabulous fixers who have worked on eating disorder related projects.
Sam Thomas began his ‘Men Get Eating Disorders Too’ project with Fixers in 2009, he lead workshops using his experience of eating disorders to help others and his project has now become a full-time charity! To find out more about Sam’s project visit: http://www.fixers.org.uk/index.php?module_instance_id=11208&core_alternate_io_handler=view_news&data_ref_id=6622
Kat Pugh wants fewer people to reach crisis point before they are given help for their eating disorder after she struggled to get the support she needed:
A group of fixers from Newcastle created a presentation to educate young people about eating disorders:
Diabulimia is an eating disorder that many have no heard of, Lucy Travers battled with diabulimia and her story was broadcast on ITV News Anglia:
Ria Box created a website to share her story of binge eating disorder in order to raise awareness of the misunderstood illness. Her website can be found here: http://www.defeatbinging.com/about/
To find out more about fixers please visit: http://www.fixers.org.uk/
To find out more about our mountain climb and to donate please visit: http://www.justgiving.com/climbED