When I was in high school and first started struggling with “eating issues,” as my family labeled it, my parents had no clue what to do, nor how to find help for me. By chance, they found a counselor who was knowledgeable about eating disorders and who helped me immensely until I went off to college. As I headed off to Texas A&M, I naively thought that I had left my problems and my eating disorder behind forever, however, soon learned that this was not the case.
Later that year when I was officially diagnosed with an eating disorder, I returned to therapy. After another year passed, it became apparent that I needed more than just a therapist; I was in need of an eating disorder treatment center. At this point, I was consumed by both my eating disorder and depression, and didn’t love the idea of treatment, especially since it meant taking a semester off from school. My mom and I knew nothing treatment centers and the extent of our eating disorder knowledge came from the media. How does one even start the process of finding a program where you will spend a significant length of time? Do you simply google “eating disorder treatment centers?” My mom was desperate for answers and desperate for a solution. She called my student health center, talked to a dietitian and, while she got the names of a few centers, she was left with even more questions. Do they take our insurance? What different levels of care do they offer? What is the average length of stay?
A few years later, I found myself in the middle of a relapse. This time, however, I had graduated college, was living on my own, and was looking for treatment options without my mother’s assistance. I experienced so much frustration, spending hours on the internet, trying to find a therapist that was qualified to treat eating disorders. Most of the therapists’ websites I came across stated that they worked with eating disorders but did not have qualifications to support these claims. (Years later, I have gained an awareness that many therapists who state that they treat eating disorders do not have any formal training.) The resources provided by my insurance company were also of no help, as they listed dietitians on my plan for the treatment of diabetes rather than for eating disorders. When it came to finding a program at a higher level of care, it was hard to know here to begin. Therefore, I went back on Google, pulled up ten different tabs, and did my best to compare programs across the country.
I will share that my late nights spent looking for resources on the internet did pay off in the end, as I was able to find treatment team members, as well as a great treatment center, that undisputedly saved my life. I first heard about findEDhelp right before becoming an official member of The Alliance team. I remember feeling so grateful that a resource to find eating disorder treatment finally exists and how helpful it would have been to have this resource during my search for treatment.
The free, national, interactive database allows individuals to search for clinicians, as well as treatment centers, based on a number of factors, including zip code, insurance plans, levels of care offered, and more. Every time I use findEDhelp, I remember how my mom would frantically call every person she could think of who might be able to provide her with information. More importantly, my mother needed to know that there was hope. I wish I had findEDhelp when I was struggling, and I know my mom wishes the same. I am incredibly thankful to be part of a team that offers this resource to help others on their recovery journey.
Amy Sullivan is currently in graduate school for clinical mental health counseling, serves as the Southern Smash Coordinator for The Alliance and runs her initiative JOY’d. She is also a dog mom to the worst behaved chihuahua in the world and Auntie Amy to the most adorable little girl and baby boy. You can follow Amy’s recovery journey here: https://www.instagram.com/joyoveryourdestination/