A 21-year-old B.C. woman is pleading to receive treatment for her severe battle with anorexia.
Jennifer Doucette, a mom who has been struggling with an eating disorder since age 17, has not been able to find local treatment for her illness without a lengthy waiting list, and in a desperate attempt to save her life, has started a Go Fund Me campaign to send her to a private facility in Manitoba.
She posted a tearful video on YouTube on January 14, explaining how critical her condition is and how badly she needs help.
“I did not choose to become anorexic,” she says in the video, “I did not welcome this disease into my life. I honestly did not think I had a problem until last year. Since about March 2014, I have been trying to recover through outpatient programs with mental health services.”
She has lost most fluid between her bones, causing intense pain every day, and is at serious risk for heart attack and organ failure.
“Have you ever been told that your organs could just fail? I pray not. You could be my worst enemy, the person I despise the most, and I would never wish this upon you… I don’t wish this upon any single person ever.”
Her desire for recovery from her eating disorder does not only impact herself, but her two children as well.
“I’ve always tried to do what’s best by my children, and by no means am I a perfect parent, I’d say really far from it.”
The treatment available in the province is usually backed-up with waiting lists, and private treatment centres in Canada and the United States are extremely costly. Doucette has experienced the same struggle as many patients in B.C.
“The resources for eating disorders are slim, and the ones that have, are filled up with long waiting lists.”
There are only three government-funded inpatient treatment centres for eating disorders in B.C., one of which is run by BC Children’s Hospital and only available to children and adolescents. St. Paul’s Hospital operates an adult program and is the provincial referral program, however, they have only seven beds. The Looking Glass Residence, under Pacific Health Services Authority, operates out of the old Ronald McDonald House in Vancouver and has 14 beds for patients ages 17 to 24, though they are hoping to increase this to 20 beds in the next 14 months.
Currently, there are no private treatment centres in B.C. Private centers in eastern Canada and the United States cost tens of thousands of dollars to attend.
“I have spent months trying to get into a treatment centre. With no results, I started looking into private treatment. I’ve recently found a centre with no waiting list, the only issue is the cost. The program is $2,200 a week. Unfortunately, I do not have the funds to send myself.”
Though there are several outpatient treatment options, including therapy and support groups, many patients with severe disorders are not able to recover through those efforts alone. Doucette states she has tried all types of therapy, including seeing counsellors, dieticians and psychiatrists, but none of it has been enough.
“I feel hopeless, like all this hard work I’ve put in isn’t hard enough.”
Doucette wants people to know what having an eating disorder really means. “Having an eating disorder is like fighting the devil inside your mind every single hour of every single day. Battling your inner self,” she told Vancity Buzz, “You feel like your mind and body are being taken over. Eating disorders don’t care that you have family, friends and relationships. It doesn’t care that you want a better life for yourself. It tears apart your mind while deteriorating it and your body at the same time.”
She says the support toward her campaign has been incredible and empowering, and she feels like she is able to make a difference through her message, but a lot needs to change in the health care system before eating disorders are taken seriously.
“Not enough people understand the seriousness of eating disorders. It should be considered a serious medical and mental disease. They need to take it more seriously and make more options for those who do need treatment.”
Her campaign on Go Fund Me has already raised $4,585 at the time of publishing, but she needs $26,900 to attend treatment in Manitoba.
“The only thing that will make my life better will be continuing on this road to recovery.”
Featured Image: Screen Capture from YouTube