Migraine/sensory folks: see my note under “Handicap access”.
The drive was pretty easy for me. The hospital is just off the Route 30 exit, and Route 30 connects to several major roads/routes. Load up a podcast and set your cruise control to the state speed limit: you’re golden.
So this eating disorder support group was different from others I’ve experienced. The only rule is confidentiality. Weights, numbers, calories, etc are all permitted to be talked about and introductions during my first time there included your name and what eating disorder you have (to which I merely responded with “I have a restrictive based eating disorder”), but this wasn’t repeated my second visit. They served us water, Diet Coke, and pretzels….? Which is weird. (I mean, like, it’s nice that they offered something at all but kind of inappropriate in a sense too… why not just water? Why Diet Coke when we’re supposed to be “anti-diet” in recovery? Ah. But I digress)
This Brandywine group is VERY co-ed, with all genders represented. This is likely because the hospital’s inpatient ED program is co-ed and the patients are probably referred to this group upon discharge. I was ecstatic to see so much male representation there. Every eating disorder, from Orthorexia to over eating, was represented in this support group. The group is open to anyone, so there were parents there. Some parents came with their loved one (with an ED) to support them, other parents came alone to gain support as a caregiver.
Overall it was pretty chill. The group leader has worked with eating disorders for probably decades. I got a little freaked out when certain topics were discussed that are normally taboo in other groups (WHY do specific weights need to be discussed? WHY??). If I was more comfortable, I might have spoken up and said “Hey, can we not say ____? Because this messes with my recovery.” (which honestly would have been a healthier approach on my part, but I wasn’t in a good place emotionally to risk being shut down). So, the group was chill- I just wasn’t. LOL.
1st & 3rd Thursday 6:30 pm – 7:30 pm
Location: 1 West Conference Room
(1st floor) Brandywine Hospital
FREE – Registration NOT required
How to find the conference room:
Park near the “main entrance” (there should be a lighted sign to indicate which door this is) and utilize that main entrance. When you walk in, there will be a clerc/desk for visitors to sign in and get a badge. (Support group attendees do NOT need to sign in and do NOT need a visitor’s badge.) The conference room is on the ground floor and will be down the hall that is left of the desk and entrance upon walking in. Go down that hall to the end, make a right. The conference room will be a few steps away on the right hand side.
Handicap access: There is plenty of handicap parking as well as wheelchair access. The conference room is small with a table in the center that takes up much of the room and a table off to the left side of the door with snacks. There is very bright fluorescent lighting- those with sensory issues or migraines may want to bring tinted eyewear for comfort. A couple of wheelchair users could easily fit into this room, despite its small size. There were at least two handicap accessible, gender neutral, single person bathrooms. They were a bit narrow (in my accessible opinion) but should be fine for most wheelchair users, if not all.
Migraine/sensory sufferers: The fluorescent lighting is terrible and incredibly harsh in this conference room. It would be wise to bring a hat or sunglasses suitable for your needs. I really struggled with this both times and am looking to purchase 50% tinted prescription glasses for these lighting situations (for both in group and in real life).
Service dog access: Access, my first time, was annoying at worst. My second time I had zero issues and no comments from the clerc/desk staff. At first, my first visit, nobody noticed my service dog at all. It wasn’t until the end of the group that a group attendee noticed her under the table and made a scene. The group leader said “You know you’re not supposed to bring animals in here” to which I implored “She is my assistance animal and I require her to be with me at all times for medical purposes”. The group leader didn’t seem to believe me and proceeded to walk across the room and bend over to inspect my dog under the table. Despite my dog being in full service gear, the leader proceeded to talk to her and then announce “I know we’re not supposed to talk to them, but what is her name?” to which I gave a fake name and the leader, naturally, started calling after my dog with it- which prompted the whole room to start fawning after her. Upon trying to leave the building, I was stopped by the desk/clerc (the same person who was there before group) to be asked the two legal ADA questions regarding my dog. I’m not normally irritated by this, but the fact is that I was leaving the building, and was right next to the door, so what is the point? It was just annoying. My being hounded in the small conference room shortly prior to this encounter probably influenced my annoyance to this inquiry more than anything else, as it is a very typical and legal service dog inquiry that I’m supposed to encounter anyway. I was just bitchy, oh well. It didn’t happen again.