An Irish woman with an eating disorder says the third lockdown "was really the straw that broke the camel’s back" for her, leading to a breakdown.
Aoife (not her real name) says she's still on a waiting list for the treatment she needs and has "no indication" of when she will get it.
After recently taking to Twitter to post a description of what it’s like living with an eating disorder, she spoke to Lunchtime Live about her experiences.
Aoife said she's had an eating disorder for around 12 years now and is left wondering "how it has gotten this bad".
She said: "It has been very severe for the last few years.
"Lockdown three was really the straw that broke the camel’s back for me. It was absolutely a mental breakdown I had.”
She said that eating disorder services were “already overwhelmed” before the pandemic, but that's even more so the case now.
Aoife explained that her only option is to go through the public health system, and she has been on her current waiting list for around five or six months.
She said she hasn't been able to get an answer about when she might reach the end of that list, as services are so "inundated" at the moment.
'I don't think the treatment will be enough'
As well as the long waiting times, Aoife is concerned that the services available might not be enough to help her.
She said: "I could try really and hang on if I thought the treatment I was going to receive… was appropriate for how severe it’s after getting. But it’s not really.
“[The eating disorder] is so deeply ingrained in my life… at this point, I just don’t think [the treatment] will be enough.
“It feels like… when I’m interacting with some consultants in the service… there’s a glass wall between the two of us. I can see them, and they can see me… but I can’t seem to get across where I’m at, and what I know I need.”
She said some particularly incidents have left her in 'disbelief' - including one case where a consultant asked if they could eat their lunch during an appointment.
Aoife said: "I hadn’t eaten in a few days. I was sitting there begging for more intensive care… they said ‘sorry, we’re really overworked… would you mind if I eat my lunch?'"
On top of waiting to be seen by a specialised eating disorder team, Aoife said her recent breakdown has seen her frequently going to A&E.
She has often found herself waiting for hours to be seen, only to be sent home again after a 40-minute talk with a psychiatrist.
She said she now just wants the treatment she needs.
In a statement, the HSE said they cannot comment on individual cases, and anyone who is concerned about an eating disorder should discuss it with their GP
They said there are currently 112 adult community mental health teams nationwide, with 90% of newly referred adults offered an appointment within 12 weeks.
Anyone impacted by the issues discussed in this story can contact Bodywhys – the eating disorder association of Ireland – on (01) 2107906