Arna Pálsdóttir opens up about what she calls her enemy in a heartfelt and informative column she posted on Indicator . She discovered the enemy in her home a year and a half ago, but then the enemy had been living, unbeknownst to her, in the house for some time.
Örn’s enemy is an eating disorder and he discusses the helplessness of the healthcare system against this harmful disease and calls on Arn to change his attitude towards mental disorders and asks the healthcare system to provide the services necessary for those struggling with eating disorders.
Takes over slowly and bitingly
“My enemy is called an eating disorder. She is lying, controlling, stubborn and above all extremely cruel. In addition to her countless drawbacks, she is also extremely convincing and far from crazy. She slowly takes hold of the sick person and isolates him from his relatives”
Örna’s daughter struggles with illness. She says that at first the parents did not know what to do and thought that this part would be a period that could be overcome quickly and safely, as their daughter was a difficult child.
Underestimated his enemy
“We quickly realized that we were wrong”
There were no behavioral issues or periods. Örna’s daughter was sick and needed help. Luckily, the family was able to see a psychologist who specializes in childhood eating disorders, and Arna believed her daughter would recover quickly.
“I didn’t know it at the time but I grossly underestimated my enemy”
Arna points out that eating disorders do not differentiate between people based on their social status. The causes of the disease are believed to be a combination of biological, developmental, cultural, personal and family factors.
“A person with an eating disorder gets stuck in a pathological attitude that keeps them locked in the vicious circle of illness. Psychological symptoms are usually a consequence of an eating disorder, not a cause. A sick person does his best to hide his illness and feels a lot of shame.Eating disorders are a serious mental disorder with the highest death rate of all mental disorders.An eating disorder does not is not a way of life or a cult of appearance”
The disease is subtle and slowly takes over the life of the ill person and not only that person, but also the whole family life of the family.
“Relationships change, routines disappear, and suddenly you feel a pang for your daughter, the daughter you knew before she got sick.” Fear and dread can seem overwhelming. The helplessness is total.”
An enemy who thrives in a world of helplessness
Arna has taken her daughter to the health center several times over the past year, and there they were left helpless. At the child and adolescent psychiatry department in Landspítal there is an eating disorder team, but it is not possible to go there unless the illness has become very serious, in which case a request for a general practitioner is needed.
Arna wonders if it would be acceptable in the case of a disease like diabetes, that they would have to wait until it reaches a life-threatening stage before the patient gets the help they need.
“My enemy thrives in a world of helplessness. Meanwhile, he gets better and better with the associated anguish, discomfort and self-harm.”
Fortunately, the family is able to have the young girl in psychotherapy, but it comes at a high cost. Not everyone knows this stuff.
“Mental disorders have a special place in the discussion of health issues. They also have a special place in the health system itself. This treatment of mental disorders promotes more shame, but shame is one of the things that feed my enemy the most. The shame is not my daughter’s, and she will only be removed through proper speech and treatment, to the credit of our community and our health care system.
This short column is not about the charges. It’s a call. A call for a change in attitude towards mental disorders and a call for a health care system that provides my child with the necessary services.”