Moving on: Life after discharge from an eating disorder unit

The transition of moving on from inpatient treatment and aftercare services can be a difficult adjustment for so many reasons. Sufficient support services set in place to fill the gap, as well as a gradual return to the community and social interaction, are both crucial in order to decrease the potential for relapse.

It’s frightening, stepping out into the world again. The fear of slipping up can be strong as you fret about failing and letting people down.

Others around you may assume you are fine if you are looking physically healthier and It’s quite easy to muddle along and let everyone assume you are okay when you are still very much struggling inside.

However, weight restoration is never a measure for how well someone is managing. Aside from your eating disorder, there could be a sudden ferociousness to the impact from any underlying issues such as depression and anxiety. Managing mental illness can often involve playing whack-a-mole and as you try to treat one facet of it another problem pops up.  

The reassurance of a having a controlled meal plan and a regular sleep and medication schedule is suddenly taken away and you have to do it yourself. Responsibilities like paying bills and keeping on top of your mail, being able to answer emails, do grocery shopping and maintain a tidy home can feel quite pressuring. Looking after yourself can feel foreign and wrong.

Being discharged can also prompt feelings of loss and loneliness. Inpatient treatment means you share a space with other patients that all understand to some degree what you are going through.  After being discharged you are left with just yourself and your own brain.

So much to do. So much to think about. Too many thoughts, too many items on the ‘to do’ list. Nothing feels easy or simple.

B r e a t h e.

All you can do is your best\.

A boat will only drift at sea for so long before it hits land.


By Claire Kearns.