This blog covers an RVN’s journey with mental health and anorexia. They discuss how, through initially approaching their mental health first aider, their practice were able to help them.

*Trigger Warning – Anorexia, Depression, Anxiety and Mental Health.

“I’ve been an RVN for 24 years, and for all of those years and more, I have struggled with anorexia, depression and crippling anxiety. I’ve had several inpatient admissions, and one admission was for over a year.

To give some context, I’m married, with a child, work part-time in a busy hospital, have pets of my own and on the outside, appear to function well. The other side of me is pulled apart by a ferocious eating disorder which has plagued me for 35 years or more.

I’ve had periods of “recovery”, but I use the term loosely as I’ve never been well, just more stable. I had a severe relapse a few years ago after a few life events left me struggling to cope and my anorexia took hold again.

I was terrified what would happen at work, and I’d always kept my eating disorder a “secret”.

The main reason why I wanted to share my story is due to the fantastic support I have received from my practice. I initially had to seek help from the mental health first aider as I was having a really difficult time and didn’t know where to turn. I was in a very difficult place mentally. In turn, HR got involved and together really helped me to seek help from the GP again. HR even came to my appointment with me as I needed some support. I was re-referred as an emergency to the eating disorder team, who again, HR and my head nurse spoke to many times.

Unfortunately, my anorexia progressed and lead to a severe relapse which left me on IV fluids and eventually admission again to an inpatient facility for eating disorders. Work, once again, were hugely supportive, keeping in touch, visits, cards and gifts. Even the clinical director came to visit me in hospital, and I wasn’t near home either! I can honestly say I’d never been as supported as I have.

After my admission, I had several appointments with my eating disorder team weekly who have also liaised with work on many occasions to ensure I’m fully supported. All I want to do is work and do a good job and everyone around me has enabled that for me. Work and my patients are my passion and motivation!

I continue to struggle with my eating disorder and anxiety, but work have put so much in place for me. They aren’t afraid of mental health issues, and we have several trained mental health first aiders now too.

What I want to get across by sharing this story is that we shouldn’t be afraid of mental health. Support is available and it’s so important to seek help.

I can 100% say I probably wouldn’t be here to write this had it not been for my eating disorder nurse, my head nurse, HR, and the mental health first aiders at work.

I’m doing my best at recovery at the moment. It’s a challenge and not without its obstacles, but I’m trying harder than ever before!

Please speak up if you’re struggling, help is out there. My thoughts are with anyone who is struggling at the moment.”

If you are struggling with anything mentioned in this story and need to seek help, please look at our Mental Health Toolkit, and/or the following signposts;