My eating disorder specialist nurse helped me believe I deserved life

Aspiring nurse Hannah hopes she will make half the difference to patients that Sarah Moody made to her

‘This year I am planning my wedding, graduating as a nurse and, hopefully, being discharged from mental health services after 15 years. Sarah is one in a million and I have no doubt without her help I would still be the sad, lonely and misunderstood young girl I once was.’

Hannah has nominated eating disorder specialist nurse Sarah Moody for ‘giving me life and helping me believe I deserved it’.

Sarah started working with Hannah in the community more than a year ago. Hannah, who is now 27, says she was a revolving-door inpatient for 11 years and under mental health services since she was 13. 

I felt I was unhelpable

She recalls: ‘I had significantly deteriorated over the previous four months, with low weight, poor blood results, I had been labelled as a chronic anorexic with poor prognosis and since my first inpatient admission, the most time I had spent in the community was five months. I was facing another inpatient admission and having to drop out of university. I longed for recovery yet continually felt misunderstood, undeserving and that I was unhelpable.’

In her assessment, Sarah spent three hours getting to know Hannah, what she wanted, and what her fears were.

Hannah say: ‘She brought up the diagnosis of borderline personality disorder as a precipitating factor to my eating disorder, something that had not been suggested before. 

‘We had explored the criteria and brought up challenging areas of my past. It was the first time I truly felt understood in mental health services and I believe this opened the doors to my recovery.

Above and beyond her duty

‘Since then Sarah has gone above and beyond any nurse’s duty with dedicated weekly appointments – and no clock-watching – travelling to me at university, always being at the end the end of a phone or email. 

‘She has helped me overcome past trauma, attachment and abandonment issues and intimacy fears. There has been endless meal planning and exposure work, and most of all she has given me the time and confidence to believe I can and will recover from life-destroying illness.’

After each session, Hannah says, she would reflect in emails sometimes pages long. ‘Sarah would always reply in great detail,’ she recalls, ‘challenging my disordered thoughts and rigid thinking.’ 

She adds that Sarah has helped her improve my emotional regulation, mindfulness and interpersonal effectiveness through cognitive behavioural therapy.

Recovery

‘This has allowed me to meet my own and others' needs,’ says Hannah. ‘Four years ago I was in a general hospital, sectioned, being NG-fed and my family were told I was unlikely to survive the next few days. I have now been out of hospital 20 months, my bloods are normal and I'm the highest weight I have ever been.

‘Sarah has walked alongside me every step of the way – allowed me to believe I'm more than just a label and that they don't define me. I know I will reach a life without disorders – free to embrace life. I hope in my practice I can make half the difference Sarah has to me.’

Sarah, who works for Taunton Community Services, has been a nurse for 10 year. She felt ‘touched and moved’ when she read Hannah’s nomination. ‘I was shocked to hear I was a finalist. Awards are not why I became a nurse – I go into work to help people. Hannah is a lovely girl – she did all the hard work. I feel privileged I was able to ignite the hope that was still in her.’

 

The RCNi Patient’s Choice Award is sponsored by Yakult and supported by Smooth Radio

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