April 17, 2024

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Nina Crowell suffers from anorexia and must raise €15,000

Nina Crowell suffers from anorexia and must raise €15,000

20-year-old Nina suffers from severe anorexia and shock. She has already undergone several treatments, but with no lasting results. Everywhere she turns for help, she is rejected. But now she has finally found a clinic in South Africa that can help her. Nina has pinned her hopes on Imani, but she must raise at least €15,000. That's why she set up a crowdfunding campaign.

Nina grew up in Gorinchem. She then moved to a sheltered housing facility in Hunderlo for people with eating disorders, which went bankrupt. She has been living alone for a year in a studio in Apeldoorn. “Things are not going well,” she says. She feels very lonely. “Anorexia prevents me from living a normal life. The whole day consists of eating, and sometimes I have to eat something and then feel guilty about it. I feel angry and constantly struggling. I also struggle with the desire to exercise. Even when it rains, it is inevitable.” “I can't go out for a walk. This is very tiring.”

Nina's problems started at an early age. “I was a sensitive, insecure girl who picked up on everyone else’s feelings.” At the age of eight, she ended up on Pro Platform, a forum where girls encourage each other to lose as much weight as possible, by cheating or spitting out food. She also started hurting herself. When she was 11, her eating disorder became apparent because she lost weight. The GP referred her to a clinic in Leiden, where her parents were also involved in the treatment. As a result, she had to miss a lot of school.

When Nina was 15, her mother was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. “My mother was a person who did not talk about her feelings. She did not talk to anyone about her illness.” Only five months later, she disappeared. This was very intense for Nina, who was there when her mother took her last breath. “The moment I lost my mother, I lost all my enthusiasm.” for life. “I still have hope for that.”

Nina Crowell (20 years old) suffers from anorexia and has to raise 15 thousand euros:
Nina with her mother. Own photo.

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Her depression worsened. Because of her grief over the loss of her mother, she was unable to swallow anything. “I thought: What is the point of life? I was in such a bad state that I had stopped eating completely.” She was forcibly admitted to hospital to recover through tube feeding. She arrived, but when she returned home for a week, things got worse again and She has to pack her bags again to return to the hospital. “That year, I was hospitalized seven times,” she says.

Her BMI was too low for many eating disorder clinics. There were also long wait times. As a result, Nina had to move to Tienen, in Belgium. “Even though I wanted so badly to get better, my eating disorder took full control of me. I panicked for a cookie. We came to the conclusion that it didn't work out that way. At the hospital, I was pumped completely with a feeding tube, But I didn't even dare to eat or drink.

It was rejected by clinics

This was followed by another period of admission to clinics, where she was constantly sent away. When she called her GP in despair, he said: “You've ruined everything yourself.” There is no one who can help you now. “Then there was a shift in me,” says Nina. She no longer wanted to live at all and took an overdose. Her stomach was pumped in the emergency room.

Behind her back, an application was made for a “judicial licence” which means you can be treated involuntarily. She was admitted to a locked ward, her worst nightmare. “There were all kinds of suicidal people, and the environment was very bad.” She physically succumbed and ended up in the hospital. The sedative was given through a tube, so she didn't get much of it.

Many treatments followed, some of which I completed. But she keeps falling back into an eating disorder. Eventually, practitioners suspect Nina of having personality problems and undergo treatment for that. “I've been diagnosed as borderline borderline, which is something I can't come to terms with at all. I'm actually an anxious girl, afraid to discuss, but I was put in a group with all kinds of angry, emotional people. It was completely inappropriate.”

Eventually, all treatment options were exhausted and Nina could no longer get help anywhere. “The biggest problem with healthcare in the Netherlands is that they can't do anything with multiple diagnoses. If you relapse into an eating disorder, the treatment will be stopped. Shock treatment was also not possible because of the eating disorder. Then try to bite your throat. And the waiting lists are very long also”.

The last straw

Then, through an acquaintance, she ends up at Imani's private clinic offering treatment in South Africa. It's the last straw she's still holding on to. “I've been alive for so long, it's no longer possible for me like this. It's barely possible, I'll wake up soon. If I hadn't found my faith, I would have started the euthanasia process.”

Nina feels comfortable with Imani from the first contact. “I immediately felt a huge difference: the way the staff talked to you, the understanding. From the beginning they said: ‘You don’t have to do this alone, we have your back.’ I often spoke to a doctor without being charged anything. It gave me hope. It was also liberating.” Defense letters from a psychiatrist, because my treatment is not reimbursed by health insurance. Unfortunately, without results.”

What appeals to her is the holistic approach. “They look at me as an individual. They also work with animals. I also think that can help. My hope is that I can live the life of a normal 20-year-old again. That I can regain my enthusiasm for life, that I can handle food and exercise.” In a natural way.

She finds it difficult to look to the future, but she has dreams and desires. “My dream is to help other girls with an eating disorder later, when I recover, to give them hope and support. I find it very difficult to give it to myself, but I want to recover to help others.

A significant increase in complaints among people with mental illness

“This is very tragic,” is the reaction of psychiatrist and professor Jim van Os to Nina's story. “We have seen a significant increase in psychological complaints among young people in recent years. This group is suffering greatly. Over the past 15 years, the number of young people with psychological complaints has almost doubled. Van Os believes this is partly due to society, where success is a choice.” Perfection is the norm and there is no longer any room for weakness. “People become very unhappy if they have to grow up in such a society.”

He points out that young girls in particular face a problem. “We see a lot of girls with eating disorders. And underneath there's self-loathing and a lot of fears. You always have to look at what's underneath, which is people writing themselves off, hating themselves, not loving themselves. And in the most painful cases, that ultimately leads to Requesting euthanasia. This also occurs regularly in young people.

Complex patients are rejected

Van Os says Nina's case is no exception. It is very common for patients who desperately need help to be turned away for treatment. Van Os explains that this has to do with the way mental health care is organized in the Netherlands. “It's a market economic model, where it's all about feasibility, efficiency and measurability. It's based on respectful patients, who are motivated to get better and show up to appointments on time.

But the reality in many cases is wild, due to the complexity of the problem. If you have one diagnosis, it's easy, straightforward and cheap too. But once it gets to more, it quickly becomes “too complex” and too expensive for health insurance and mental health institutions, which also have to compete with each other.

“If you have, for example, a combination of severe autism, chronic addiction and suicidality, or you exhibit fugitive behavior or have serious, potentially fatal problems like anorexia, you simply can't go into that. This creates unequal access to care.” “The more serious the problems are, the more difficult it is to reach,” Van Os says. In other words: people who need help the most are left out in the cold.

deep breath

Complex problems are usually not solved within a year. As a healthcare professional, you have to be persistent about it, says Van Os. “It's a matter of toiling, pulling, pushing, flogging, trying to motivate people to change. You actually need 'relationship stunt players', who are trying to do things that have very difficult problems. These types of employees are worth their weight in gold, but they don't fit into the system. Current DBC.

According to van Os, there needs to be a change towards a social system in which professionals work together creatively in the neighborhood and there is an integrated range of care, rather than the current division between WMO in the municipality and medical care (including mental health care) in the municipality. Law on health insurance and mental health care for young people in the municipality. This is already being worked on, under the name “ecosystem social health”, with ten regions trying to shift towards a social model, rather than a medical model, where many people are declared ill and have to go into mental health care. “We need to work together more and there must be more room to think outside the box.”

You can donate to Nina via this link.

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