Young woman who battled bulimia for 8 years slams 'dire experience with public health system'

AuthorTrevor Quinn
Published date06 March 2021
Publication titleDublinLive (Ireland)
Sinead Fagan, who had anxiety and body image issues, began suffering from the illness at 17 and she stressed she felt abandoned by her 12-month HSE treatment.

The 26 year-old had multiple HSE counsellors before she was moved to HSE psychiatric services, which led to a rapid deterioration in her health and wellbeing.

Sinead spoke to Dublin Live on Eating Disorders Awareness Week, which is a worldwide event from 1st-7th of March, this is a way of promoting awareness for those who suffer from the mental health illness.

Sinead, who has opened up for the first time, also claimed the HSE diagnosed her with borderline personality disorder but never told her she had the condition.

She said: "When I was in the HSE system there was no focus on eating disorder treatment specifically.

"There were no dieticians, no specialist counsellors and no focus groups. My condition had been pretty bad beforehand, but I felt it actually made it worse because I just didn't understand what was going on," she said.

"It created a belief that I was alone and no one understood and that there was something really wrong with me. However, when I look back I needed help and there was something really wrong with the system.

"This mental illness quickly becomes physical and it is a killer."

Sinead, from Portmarnock in the capital, was referred to the HSE as a 17 year-old in 2013 after she she spent time in Beaumont Hospital.

She said: "I think their biggest issue is with communication and I was never asked for feedback or I was never followed up with any calls after my dialectical behaviour therapy [a type of psychotherapy].

"The nurse had no knowledge of eating disorder, she was just telling me to buck up and deal with it really."

Sinead, who revealed she was only told she had borderline personality disorder (BPD) after she left the public system despite a HSE diagnosis, added: "They never told me and I had to be informed by the private consultant.

She believes disorders or addiction are a secondary result of BPD and little has changed in terms of HSE treatment, explained: "They (the HSE) weren't actually talking to me about what the plan was and it wasn't focused towards eating disorders, in particular.

"There was people with suicidal ideation, alcoholism, self-harm, there was just loads of different people thrown into a room really.

"I think compared to alcoholism and drug addiction support systems it's extremely low.

Sinead has been receiving private counselling for the past six years...

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