Kate, 37, works in Health Information and lives in Guernsey, Channel Islands.
I was diagnosed with anorexia in my teens and after outpatient treatment proved unsuccessful I was treating in an Eating Disorder Unit. The unit taught me how to manage my eating, but didn’t have much of an effect of the underlying anxiety and depression. It seemed as if the consensus was that the illness needed to be managed and no cure existed. Over the years I have tried many different types of counselling, therapy and alternative treatments, such as Reiki and aromatherapy. Cognitive Behaviour therapy and Dialectical Behaviour therapy in tandem with antidepressants and antipsychotics provided some relief, but my symptoms always returned.
I can honestly say that I had run out of options and the thought of spending the rest of my life plagued by anorexia, anxiety and depression was simply unbearable. Although I had previously attended a few mindfulness sessions at a treatment centre in the late 90s it wasn’t until I found the online mindfulness course earlier this year that things really started to change. As the course progressed I noticed that my thoughts were not causing me as much distress and my mood was much more stable. Other people started to notice that I was looking healthier and happier. The major difference with mindfulness in comparison to every other approach to treatment I’ve tried over the past twenty years is that you don’t need to see a therapist for it to work. Anyone can learn how to practise mindfulness. All you need is a CD player or access to the internet.
Mindfulness has given me back a life I never thought possible and my consultant is reducing my medication because my health has improved significantly since making daily practice part of my routine. The anxious and depressive thoughts I used to be plagued by every day are now a distant memory and my weight has been stable at a healthy BMI for the longest period since anorexia first took hold of my life. What really excites me is the knowledge that mindfulness is changing my brain in a way that no other therapy or medication has before. The added bonus is that there are no horrible side-effects . Hopefully one day patients will be prescribed mindfulness rather than just be offered antidepressants and put on a lengthy waiting list for psychotherapy.