What brought me to Sweet Cavanagh?
Hello. I'm Mina and i have an eating disorder. Don't even ask me for how long. I've recently joined Sweet Cavanagh and here's a little about why.
For those of us who struggle on and live with this illness as best we can, perhaps in and out of work and episodes of treatment, there's little help out there if you can't afford to pay - and at the prohibitively high prices demanded by private therapists and healthcare providers, most of us can't. And when what the NHS can offer, with its increasingly over-pruned budgets, dries up and you're out on your own again, still no better despite the latest sticking plaster... what then?
Even those who can afford to pay for their treatment will agree: functioning (barely) is not living - merely existing. Stuck in a cycle of inadequate treatment, grand intentions to 'do well this time', returning to work, getting overwhelmed and overtired, full-on relapse and decreasing confidence that life can be, well, lived... it's not sustainable. Relationships suffer, plans and prospects fall away and sometimes you wonder if it's really worth carrying on.
I can only speak for myself, of course, but i know many of our stories have similarities. I feel like i've tried pretty much anything, yet somehow despite having all the knowledge and the right mindset, i can't seem to translate that into action. One day, on the off-chance that there might be something else worth a go, i contacted a former consultant, just to ask if she had any ideas really. I didn't think she'd reply to be honest, but a letter came in the post and she directed me to Florence and Sweet Cavanagh and... well, hope (an all-but-forgotten concept) has started to return. Big-time.
Sweet Cavanagh is not a treatment centre - a peer-led workshop might be a more accurate description. Aimed at those who've left treatment and are in a reasonably advanced stage of recovery, but who really need a place to check in, build and/or maintain self-esteem outside the clinical environment, stay motivated and help each other along, it provides an alternative for those of us who are, all too often, cut loose from healthcare services and left, without adequate support, to drift back into that above-mentioned vicious cycle.
Many - i'd venture so far as to say most - of us try to step straight back into 'normal' life, only to find it all a bit of a battering-ram that gets you right in the self-confidence. We can try and hide it, from ourselves and from others, but it's only too easy to start to believe again that we've 'failed' and that we 'can't do it' and blah blah blah... a baffling and progressive illness, this, it gets harder to haul yourself up every time you fall.
At Sweet Cavanagh, with others who 'get' it, there's no need for the shame and secrecy that we tend to lug into the conventional workplace and other parts of our lives - as if our baggage weren't heavy enough already, eh? Here, unconditional acceptance and support help to remind us that actually, yes, we deserve better than the half-life under the shade of an eating disorder - we deserve better and we are capable of better - and that when things get rough and you don't believe in yourself, other people's faith in you can carry you through the tough times.
We can choose - and it is a choice - close relationships and real life over the eating disorder. Because we do have just as much as a right to it as anyone else - because it is ours to choose.
What brought me to Sweet Cavanagh?