Those of you who sign up to our newsletter will have seen the incredible story we shared this week about an inspirational young woman that we had the pleasure of helping this year.
For those who didn’t, here’s a re-cap. From her teenage years Jessica has struggled with anorexia, and as a result spent almost five years in and out of eating disorder units. Whilst she had adequate help whilst there, upon being discharged she found herself without the mental health support she so desperately needed. She was discharged in March 2017 into a supported living package and since then has had multiple periods of relapse and admissions to Peterborough City Hospital for medical intervention. Despite numerous attempts to get help, her condition deteriorated to such a point that she made an attempt on her life last year. Things then improved for a short while, and she was able to enjoy a holiday with her friends to New York in February. Sadly once home again, Jessica reached crisis point after feeling like ‘no-one was listening to her’ having spent months trying to get person centred support, and made what was to be the most serious attempt on her life. Whilst she credits the NHS and ambulance staff with saving her, unfortunately as a result she has been left with life changing injuries. This means that despite formerly being able bodied, she now relies on a wheelchair and feeding tube, and requires 24/7 round the clock care from carers. The affects of Covid-19 restrictions and large backlogs also mean she has been unable to receive the necessary physiotherapy that would have helped largely with her mobility and was so important in the early stages of her recovery.
At this point, it would arguably have been easy for Jessica to give up. Yet despite all of her struggles she has made the phenomenally courageous decision to share her story and try to help others. She strongly believes others are at risk due to a lack of funding and specialist support in the community following discharge from specialist eating disorder services. She explains that only those who appear to be suffering the most and are of the lowest weight receive treatment, and that there is a lack of early and joint-up intervention before people hit crisis and a lack of communication between professionals involved in her care.
She says “I want to get better but I’ve asked for help and until recently it felt like no one was listening to me. I want to share my story as I don’t want people to have to go through what I’ve gone through. I am very lucky to be here today to share my story. I was very nearly just another statistic. All services focus on is labels and each pathway is different. There doesn’t seem to be any joint working between services. And this can make it very hard for people with dual diagnoses to get the support they need. I seem to be known by labels and not as a person. I have been told I have EUPD, an eating disorder, and PDD, but I have received next to no support since being in the community. After my attempt on my life I was discharged and at this time I was still bed-bound and wasn’t even able to sit up, but I was discharged with no follow-up appointments. I waited over two months for any appointments to come through. I am now in a wheelchair but there is still no lead professional coordinating everything. As a result of my attempt I now have various chronic illnesses as well as my mental health, but even with this there is still no link working between services.”
In order to help raise awareness and funding, she has committed to wheeling a fantastic 1km a day throughout April to raise money for the charity BEAT (the UK's main eating disorders charity) , and has also started a government petition calling for increased funding for aftercare for those struggling. She comments: “There needs to be more help after being discharged from an eating disorder unit. Lives could be saved and it would prevent constant readmissions. That’s why I set up the petition." Alongside this, she also does a fantastic job at raising awareness through her popular social media account TikTok (@Jess1997fightingrecovery) which has amassed an incredible 72,000 followers and half a million likes! She's been incredibly brave to share her own story to try and help others in a similar position. Not only has she given us permission to help raise awareness, but she has also run an article with the Peterborough Telegraph and is due to be interviewed by BBC news later this year.
“Eating disorder services only seem to focus on weight, but the reality of an eating disorder is you can be at any weight and struggle. You shouldn’t have to be underweight to receive the right support. Eating disorders are a mental illness.
Addressing fellow sufferers who are reading this article, she added: “I want you to know that it will get better. If you’re struggling please reach out to someone, whether that be a family member, a friend or a medical professional.
“I want to be able get through this and help other people going through this. I know it will never go away completely but I hope to be able to manage it better.”
If, like us, you find Jessica Ravenscroft a truly inspiring your woman and want to do something to help then you can help by using the following links to sign the petition or donate to BEAT.
If you are struggling yourself or know someone who is, please recognise that you are not alone. There are several charity run organisations for support including the following:
To contact Beat, visit: https://www.beateatingdisorders.org.uk/contact-us.