What's it like? In-patient treatment

What is in-patient treatment like?


In-patient treatment was a very intense experience for me, and while it wasn't pleasant, it certainly made a positive difference in my life.

Many of the in-patient treatment programmes out there are different now - and I'm glad to learn that. The programme I was in (over 10 years ago) focused mainly on food and weight, with no attention to how we were feeling, or on any of the reasons why we had ended up in this position.

We were weighed twice a week and our eating was constantly monitored. It was embarrassing, having to stand on a scale in your underwear, and an incredibly dehumanising experience. I often felt that we were treated like cattle, rather than individual women.

As it was a behavioural programme, we were rewarded if we gained weight, and punished if we did not. We were allowed on outings and given greater freedom if we complied with the programme, and confined to bed if we did not. It was undoubtedly punitive, and I don't think it was the most effective way of getting us to have healthy attitudes towards food, weight or ourselves.

However, what the programme did do was give me the chance to start working towards recovery. I had been completely unable to break out of a starvation cycle at home, and this programme enabled me to eat again, without feeling as much intense guilt. Without the break from my home environment, I'm not sure how I would have been able to get back to having a normal life and a chance to work on my recovery.

The support I received from the other girls and women was also fabulous. Knowing you're not the only one was also incredibly helpful, as I realised that those dark hours of intense loneliness and despair were experienced by others, too. One of the staff members was also incredibly caring and supportive, and just experiencing that care was helpful.

Overall, I think that being in an in-patient unit can be an incredibly beneficial experience - as it helps with breaking destructive behavioural cycles and can provide support and caring. However, I hope that programmes continue to progress away from a punitive approach, and towards an approach where the actual individuals are focused on, rather than just the symptoms.