While watching a programme called ‘Freddie Flintoff: Living with Bulimia‘ on BBC One, the show reminded me I needed to try and seek support for my own eating disorder. I’ve suffered from an eating disorder in one form or another my entire adult life, which is getting on for being 20 years now. Thus, I thought to seek support from Beat and decided to write about my experience of using their eating disorders web chat service so that others would know what to expect.
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In fact, my issues with food started long before then, in primary school. Thus, when I saw this programme it just reminded me of my own problems, starting at school, and how they’d been dismissed when I’d sort help before. The programme itself was quite an eye-opener and it’s great that someone of his status has spoken out. Hopefully, men seeking help for eating disorders will be taken more seriously now. However, I wish we didn’t have to rely on the confessions of famous people for such things to be taken seriously.
I’ve reached out to GPs, doctors, therapists, counsellors, endocrinologists (my eating disorder caused me to develop reactive hypoglycaemia), and psychiatrists over the decades, and not one ever took my eating disorder seriously. That lack of caring left me with a physical health issue that’ll ruin my quality of life for the rest of my life and puts me at high risk of type 2 diabetes.
Anyway, I contacted Beat using the web chat service on a Sunday at just before 17.00, so I don’t know if this will reflect the use of the service at other times or not. When I contacted beat using this method of communication, I was in the queue for about four minutes, as I was the fourth person in said queue.
The people managing the web chat on half of Beat start by asking you about your age, ethnicity, and location in the UK (which of the countries you’re from). I imagine this is because each country in the UK will have different services in place, especially in Scotland and Northern Ireland. England and Wales are usually the same.
They will then ask you about your concerns. So in my case, I gave them a brief history of my issues around food, eating habits (or lack thereof), and how my previous attempts to seek help for an eating disorder had just been completely ignored.
During the discussion with the person from Beat about my concerns, I asked if they knew which eating disorder I might actually have. They replied that I could have both anorexia and bulimia, which I didn’t know was possible. However, this obviously isn’t a diagnosis from a professional, as it’s more than likely this person is trained to signpost rather than being trained in eating disorders itself.
Anyway, the person I was talking to then brought up the online support groups they offer at Beat. They have several group options to select from, including one created around covid19. If you’re interested in trying any of those out or finding out more information about them, then you can do that by clicking here.
They also signed posted me to other useful resources on their site, such as a useful page on how to overturn decisions called “Overturning Bad Decisions and Understanding Appropriate Ones“. This page has information on what you can do when your GP doesn’t make a referral, the eating disorder service won’t give you an assessment, the eating disorder service won’t treat you, etc. The page provides a lot of information on what steps you can take so you can get the treatment you require to live a better quality of life. So if this sounds like something you’ve experienced when trying to seek support with an eating disorder, please go check out that page, which you can do by clicking here.
The person I was talking to from Beat also recommend a couple of books, as I expressed an interest in doing the work myself. Because of my experiences with seeking help for my eating disorders before, especially with my Mental Health Trust, I’d rather make the changes myself. They’ve let me down time and time again, ignoring my email about suicide planning in the form of writing a suicide letter, even though they replied to the actual email itself, just not that bit. Anyway, I’m getting off track. The two books they recommend were:
Beating Your Eating Disorder: A Cognitive-Behavioural Self-Help Guide for Adult Sufferers and their Carers.
By Glen Waller, Victoria Mountford, Rachel Lawson, Emma Gray, Helen Cordery, and Hendrik Hinrichsen.
If you’re interested in buying this book yourself, then I’ve got you covered.
Overcoming Anorexia Nervosa 2nd Edition: A self-help guide using cognitive behavioural techniques.
By Patricia Graham and Christopher Freeman.
If you’re interested in buying this book yourself, then I’ve got you covered here too.
While we talked they also asked for my postcode to see if there was a self-referral eating disorder unit in my area. Unfortunately, there wasn’t one for over 18s in my area. But hey, that would indicate to me that there is at least an under 18s one in my area, so not all bad.
My Beat Web Chat Verdict
All in all, we talked for roughly 40-45 minutes, so you get a fair bit of time to talk with them. We probably could have talked longer too, it wasn’t like there was a time limit they had in place, as far as I know. They also didn’t try to rush me to end the conversation.
I’m not sure what I was expecting, but I didn’t leave feeling like my needs had been met, unfortunately, but that could be because of my unique situation. Because so many professionals had ignored my attempts to get help for my eating problems in the past and I was resigned to the fact I won’t get the help I needed or just a simple diagnosis. I probably went into this expecting them to be trained in eating disorders so they could give me a diagnosis, so that’s really my bad, not theirs.
It wouldn’t make sense for the web chat team at Beat to be trained in eating disorders but rather trained to offer support around their website and other support options. In this regard, the staff and the web chat service did a great job. The problem was my expectations got in the way, thus causing my disappointment. Luckily, I have hindsight.
Thus, if you think you might have an eating disorder, know someone who does, or need help because you’ve been let down while trying to get help, then the web chat service Beat offers is certainly is a good place to start.
Furthermore, Beat’s information on overturning negative decisions and knowing your rights could be a lifesaver. Although this wasn’t something I discussed with them when I used their chat service, it was something they brought up when I talked about my issues with everyone ignoring my eating disorder which ultimately led to me developing reactive hypoglycaemia.
Click the button to be taken to the one-to-one web chat service that Beat offers,
If talking to Beat using there web chat isn’t your thing, then they also have a few other methods you can try.
Helpline: 0808 801 0677
Helpline: 0808 801 0711
Helpline: 0808 801 0811
Other Book Recommendations By Beat
Getting Better Bite by Bite: A Survival Kit for Sufferers of Bulimia Nervosa and Binge Eating Disorder
Overcoming Binge Eating 2nd Edition: The Proven Program to Learn Why You Binge and How You Can Stop
If you’d like to check out all the books Beat recommends, such as those for people caring for someone suffering from an eating disorder, then you can do so by clicking here.
As always, leave your feedback in the comments section below. Also, feel free to share your experiences with Beat and eating disorders in the comments section below as well, as it might help someone else. If you want to stay up-to-date with my blog, then sign up to my newsletter below. Alternatively, get push notifications of new posts by clicking the red bell icon in the bottom left corner.
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Unwanted Life readers.
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