When I went to my GP about my eating disorder, they suggested that I seek the support of a charity which would wholly offer me accessible and efficacious treatment. First Steps Derbyshire are my local eating disorder charity and I will be forever thankful and appreciative of what they did for me. I withhold the firm belief that my mind-set would not have been transformed without the positive drive in the right direction from First Steps.
First Steps Derbyshire offer facilities for both sufferers themselves and their families, which provide coping strategies and recovery services. This includes 1:1 counselling, young persons’ support groups, general support groups, parent education and an online befriending service. The founding principle of the charity is that almost every person and support worker who is employed has struggled with an eating disorder at some point in their life. For me, this immediately accentuated a level of understanding and compassion. I believe this was the reason that I gained a really close and happy relationship with both of my support workers, of whom I won’t name. They supported me through progress and relapse, took a genuinely caring consideration for my emotions and sought to find methods of treatments that worked well for me. Most importantly, they listened to every word I said and took it into account.
One thing my first support worker came up with was completely eradicating the ‘good’ and ‘bad’ connotations to certain foods. These labels were particularly detrimental to my own thought process in regards to food and subsequently led me to attribute both reward and guilt to food. This mind-set is damaging. Too often I found myself in tears when I was persuaded to try eating white pasta or sweets. Let me emphasise this once again, guilt should not be attributed to food. White pasta is no worse for you than brown pasta when we place things within a broader perspective of healthiness. My support workers set me challenges each week in order to eliminate this concept of ‘guilt-ridden’ foods – to have a glass of juice with breakfast and to eat white carbs for example. They promised me that they would not affect my weight and they didn’t; they promised me that it would positively affect the way I thought about these foods and it did.
I spent a lot of time at First Steps. However I finished my time there as a volunteer rather than a sufferer. The last time I attended First Steps was when I ran my own support group for sufferers, where I orchestrated how both writing, playing and performing was a good distraction from harmful thoughts and therapeutic way to release and relieve yourself of negative thoughts. I left First Steps feeling overwhelmed about my progress, emotional about the friendships I had made and sentimental about the support they offer as they helped me at First Steps so much.
This post is dedicated to them.