AEDRA stands for Active Eating Disorder Recovery for Adults, and provides educated peer support for adults in recovery from eating disorders. Well aware that eating disorders don’t just exist between the convenient hours of 9-5, or whenever your GP or specialist can make an appointment, they offer online, phone, and text messaging support for eating disorders such as Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia Nervosa, and EDNOS — ‘meeting you with what you need to recover, wherever you are.’
Set up by Tabitha Farrar, who herself recovered from anorexia as an adult, the meal support service is just one of a range of resources offered. Podcasts, forums, blogs and toolkits all are provided to help adults and their partners or carers in recovery, and basically stick two fingers up at the illnesses that ruin so many lives.
Treatment is often aimed only at those who have reached a critical point and must go into hospital. As well as reinforcing the idea that eating disorders are about a bmi, by this time things are very muddy, and sticky, and it becomes harder and harder to recover. The type of treatment on offer is often almost binary – inpatient and medicalised, or once a month outpatient appointments, where the individual is told they’re not eating correctly before being sent on their merry way.
The same is true on the way ‘out’, as it is on the way ‘down.’ Often after medical treatment is finished, people are dropped. Step down care is almost non existent, and it’s not uncommon for people to go from 24 hour support and supervision to absolutely nothing.
What about the day to day reality of recovery? The hour by hour? The times between those appointments. Most services are medically-oriented, so lend themselves towards symptoms requiring medical treatment, but there are far fewer services that could help for someone with ED in emotional distress, or with less-acute symptoms e.g. really needs support managing meals. That’s where AEDRA comes in.
Adults often don’t have the same level of services available to them, and it may well be that they’ve had the illness for many years. Subsequently many behaviours are entrenched in them, and life has been derailed. Tabitha set up AEDRA because she knows that adults with eating disorders who are actively trying to recover need greater support and services in place to help them do so. ‘Many people want to recover and are trying SO hard, but the anxiety at mealtimes derails them. As food is the most important part of eating disorder recovery, providing people with support at mealtimes — no matter where they are — is vital. AEDRA is designed to work alongside therapy and other treatment, and just provide that little extra in-home support that people need in order to eat throughout recovery.’
Meal support sessions online see a volunteer will sit and support an individual through an anxiety provoking meal time. For some it’s after a meal that things get tricky, and so support coaches hold a space for individuals to talk, distract yourself with conversation, and avoid being tempted to fall back on unhelpful behaviours. Grocery shopping or ordering meals in a café might be hard, as can the bombardment of diet talk at work, or walking past a gym. That’s where text support is perfect. It’s also hard for carers, and so AEDRA offers phone calls and resources for those supporting someone through this difficult time.
These practical steps are often what is needed to help an individual reach full recovery. It’s the small moments that lead to change. As well as being helpful, it’s efficient. Utilise email and phone call support in order to reach more people costs less – something that medical organisations love to hear.
Each meal support session costs $25 or £20, and as a non-profit organisation donations are always welcome. ‘Meal support allows people with eating disorders to get the vital nutrition that they need in order to make a full recovery by providing them with the encouragement, reinforcement, and reassurance they need to eat a meal.’ That meal is just one step on the road to full recovery.
Recovery that means living a life.
When 1 in 5 individuals with anorexia die prematurely, and many many more live a half life, unable to have children, relationships, work, or a social life, it’s not overstating it to say donating just the cost of a couple of drinks or cinema tickets you can help someone take that step on the road to life, and potentially help save their life.