This weekend we celebrated World Mental Health Day, reflecting on how in light of the pandemic mental health has been an urgent and consistent talking point over the past 6-7 months.
Typically office-bound employees had to transform their kitchen tables and spare rooms into desks and offices; parents became school teachers; students were pulled in and out of school and are now adapting to online or “dual-delivery” study; GCSE and A Level results were a point of anger, confusion and fear over the summer; NHS workers and keyworkers relentlessly risk their lives every day; and there have been many, many of our loved ones lost…
Lives have changed frequently and considerably. So much so that feeling “uncertain” is, funnily enough, quite a certainty by now.
In the context of eating disorders, Covid-19 introduced specific challenges for those who were in need of – or currently accessing – treatment for an eating disorder. Many treatment settings closed, leaving people feeling uncertain and alone. Family, friends or even flatmates suddenly felt responsible for their loved one’s illness, and their desperation was palpable as they came to terms with the reality of the lived experience of an eating disorder.
Life in the ‘bubble’ of lockdown felt very lonely and frightening, but with the added complexity of an eating disorder, for some, it felt unmanageable.
As we come to terms with this new “reality”, we keep coming back to the feeling of hope. How we need to hold onto it and nurture it, so that in times of challenge (such as these) we build a tolerance and resilience for uncomfortable feelings and emotions.
For when put in perspective, the eating disorder recovery community is recovering under extraordinary circumstances and that – in itself – is something to be proud of. To quote an earlier blog post by our founder and CEO, Kerrie:
“So I wonder what does ‘hope’ means right now?
To me, it means that we need to respect Hope.
That Hope doesn’t always just appear, that at times we have to be conscious and honest and open about our intentions and our goals – we need to set them, state them and do them.
That we need to find the courage to trust the process, when now, more than ever, that feels uncertain and unfamiliar on every level – but trust that we will find our internal resources when we need them, that they are present, perhaps unpractised at times, but that on some level we have what we need and that we can access it if we take the brave and courageous steps to look.
And finally, to me it means communication. We need to reach out. To make contact with those around us who can support us and protect us when we can’t do that for ourselves.”
The World Health Organisation (WHO) announced their goal for World Mental Health Day as increased investment in mental health; anticipating the need for mental health and psychosocial support to substantially increase in the coming months and years as a fallout from the pandemic.
To us, “investment” in this context very much refers to the need for investment in chronically underfunded eating disorder treatment across the UK. Yet, it also makes us think of the importance of investing in our mental health and recovery through kindness and self-compassion, as we navigate the remaining rocky months with coronavirus.
As Natasha Devon, Body Image and Mental Health Campaigner, recently said: “kindness involves investment”. Recovery is both a kind and loving act towards ourselves but it is also an investment in our future selves.
At Orri, you will always find hope for recovery and hope for life beyond an eating disorder.
We believe that to provide effective treatment we need to instill hope and belief in someone’s ability to recover, no matter their experience of their eating disorder or their recovery journey to date.
As one of our company values, our definition of “hope” includes working collaboratively to create a space where recovery is possible. For it takes courage to admit when our challenges are bigger than ourselves, and bravery to trust those around us to guide us on our journey (and all its ups and downs).
We invite you to collaborate with us in this theme of hope. Email or DM (direct message) us with your messages of hope for the amazing eating disorder recovery community.