A British woman is speaking out about her experience with anorexia in an effort to end the stigma of mental illness and eating disorders, and we at Fairwinds Treatment Center applaud and support her courageous efforts. Indeed, since Dr. M.K. (Khal) El-Yousef opened the center here in Clearwater, Florida, 25 years ago, he has argued that underlying psychological, mental and emotional issues are largely responsible for addictions and eating disorders — a fact that was too rarely acknowledged by other treatment facilities at the time, and even still today. Since then, medical research has continued to validate the work of Dr. El-Yousef and our lead eating disorder expert, Dr. Pauline Powers, who is widely regarded as one of the top specialists in her field.
At Fairwinds Treatment Center, we use our unique dual diagnosis methodology to provide each patient with a personalized combination of clinical treatment and therapeutic counseling, encouraging healing of the mind, body and spirit. In the case of eating disorder patients, weight gain is obviously of vital importance. However, if internal problems — such as anxiety, depression and obsessive compulsive disorder — are not also addressed, then a failed recovery is almost inevitable.
In the case of anorexia survivor Leanne McKillop, the underlying issue that triggered or exacerbated her eating disorder was likely trauma. When she was young, McKillop says that she was cruelly bullied by boys in her school for having a large chest. She started to limit her eating in an effort to reduce her bust size, but her dieting quickly spun out of control. After years of suffering, with doctors telling her she would need to gain weight or die, McKillop came to terms with her mental illness and achieved a lasting recovery. She is now the face of a mental health awareness and anti-discrimination campaign in Scotland.
"At the height of my illness I never believed I would get better, and that's a horrible thing to feel," McKillop tells the British media. "The stigma from other people just makes it worse. I was afraid to leave the house. People think it's best to be secretive about mental health but we all need to know more about it and speak up."
The issue is quite literally a matter of life-and-death, as McKillop knows all too well. She lost her best friend, also an eating disorder sufferer, to an anorexia-related heart attack. McKillop says that it is crucial for eating disorder patients to get appropriate care from medical experts who understand the mental illness component of their disease. She remembers one experience in a British hospital that demonstrated how damaging inadequate treatment can be.
"The worst stigma I experienced was when I was in a psychiatric ward and their advice to me was to tell me just to eat some chocolate. It was dismissive of my illness," she tells The Scotsman. "The nurses in the ward didn't have a clue how to treat someone with anorexia. They just told me to eat and they did it in front of all the other patients … When you have an eating disorder, you always think you're not as bad as people say, so to be told that will just do more harm. It just made me think I can't be ill. I didn't get the right treatment."
If your loved one is struggling with an eating disorder it is vital that they receive comprehensive eating disorder care like the kind we provide at Fairwinds Treatment Center, one of the best eating disorder treatment centers in the nation. Contact us today to learn more.