Friday, 22 April 2016

They may well laugh at him, but it is possibly very true!

My son is busy studying for his finals exams in History at university. Yesterday he was telling me all about Pope Gregory I and the way that, in his opinion, he probably suffered from an eating disorder as well as a spot of OCD and an extreme need for perfectionism (in the run up to the End of The World).

Thursday, 14 April 2016

I can't seem to throw it off - nightmares

Over the past two years I've had a bundle of different therapies for the PTSD-like, anxiety-led symptoms that began to develop a year or so after my son went into remission for his eating disorder. Following each therapy, I've thought: "This is it, I feel soooo much better, fixed, sorted, I can start to forget about the past and look to the future - and just get on with my life."

Sunday, 3 April 2016

This'll make you giggle

I just said to him: "I'm so proud of you, all these time-management skills and all that." "What's brought that on?" he said, suspiciously. So I told him I'd blogged about it and so on. "Aw, thank you!" he said. Then, giggling (in a little boy's voice): "Okay, mummykins... I've been such a good little boy, can I have a million pounds, please? Like NOW! In CASH!!"

That's another bonus. He's got his fabulous sense of humour back, too.

One good thing that came out of his eating disorder

My son is currently writing his university degree dissertation and studying for his final exams at the same time as applying for a Masters degree and obtaining funding for it. Phew! But I have to say - his time management skills are awesome, they really are. Top notch. Helped, of course, by the fact that he's passionate about his subject: history. While other students leave things to the last minute and panic, the wheels of his time management ability are turning smoothly and on time. I am so very proud of him - and admire his dedication and organisational skills more than you could imagine!

Wednesday, 23 March 2016

Big flashbacks at teatime....

It's curious how the brain gets 'stuck' in the 'fight or flight'/Red Alert response, isn't it? Take yesterday teatime for example (or evening meal, to non-Yorkshire people out there!) Paul and Ben were eating fish in breadcrumbs, chips and mushy peas. Ben commented on the fact that Sainsbury's mushy peas weren't a patch on Batchelor's mushy peas. Then there was a silence. And the 'stuck' part of my brain suddenly went into FREEZE. I mean F.R.E.E.Z.E...

Tuesday, 8 March 2016

What do my elbow, back and my brain have in common?

Back in August I had a bike accident. I broke my elbow and herniated a disk in my lower spine. Meanwhile I was onto my fourth (or was it my fifth?) course of therapy for the PTSD, anxiety and depression I'd developed two-and-a-half years before - a delayed result of my brain attempting to cope with what it had been through during the years when I battled to get my teenage son through anorexia.

It took around 12 weeks for my elbow fracture to heal. Eight months on I am still working on the tail-end of the disk herniation, very gradually easing myself back into normal tasks and even sport (I can't wait to get back on my bike, for example, but will need to rehabilitate myself with care).

Monday, 7 March 2016

Part #4 of my talk: "Eating disorders are not just a 'girl thing'"

So… Just to summarise so far… My 15-year-old son Ben developed anorexia over the summer of 2009. In  the September I took him to the GP but it was the end of October before a referral was sent off to CAMHS (the UK-based Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services). It took a further month before I heard back from CAMHS only to be told that it could be 18 to 22 weeks before he was seen, which would take it up to around Easter time. I was told there was nothing they could do to speed things up and we would just have to wait our turn...

Thursday, 3 March 2016

A quick break from the talk transcripts...

After my SEDIG (Scottish Eating Disorders Interest Group) conference talk on Saturday about eating disorders in boys, one mum in the audience stood up. She said: "You've just told our story - it's identical. Except for one thing. Unlike your son, ours didn't make it; he passed away, aged 19." My jaw dropped. And with it came a rush of emotion. Here was I, describing our recovery story. There she was, reinforcing the fact that eating disorders can kill. They are deadly diseases. And no matter how punishingly hard you work as a parent to get your child through it, the eating disorder can claim them in the end.

Wednesday, 2 March 2016

Part #3 of my talk: "Eating disorders are not just a 'girl thing'"

Throughout October we went to and fro to the GPs only to be told the same old thing: go home, eat more and come back in a couple of weeks.

Meanwhile all the warning signs were getting stronger by the day. Mealtimes were becoming difficult; everything had to be perfect, weighed out to the nearest nanogram to make sure he wasn't getting "too much".

Ben began to police my cooking in the kitchen and change recipes, striking through any "offending" recipes with a marker pen, and he would blow a fuse at the slightest thing.

Tuesday, 1 March 2016

Part #2 of my talk: "Eating disorders are not just a 'girl thing'"

Things began to get more obvious over the school summer holidays when Ben was at home and we were with him more.

By this time he was exercising like crazy, every day. He joined our local gym and would run there and back as well as doing all the usual situps, etc.

He developed a big interest in cooking and especially healthy cooking. He'd slim down recipes, cutting out all the fats and carbohydrates and make some quite weird concoctions that tasted pretty disgusting.

Part #1 of my talk: "Eating disorders are not just a 'girl thing'"

It all started in the spring of 2009 when our son Ben was 15. He'd been quite chubby at primary school and had been bullied as a result.

But at secondary school he got into rugby and developed a new leaner, more muscly physique which he was very proud of.

And because he was the "guy in the rugby team" he was very popular – he had a great group of friends. So during those first two years at secondary school things were going from strength to strength. Life was pretty normal.

SEDIG Conference in Edinburgh was really good

On Saturday afternoon I spoke at the SEDIG (Scottish Eating Disorders Interest Group) conference in Edinburgh about my family's experience of getting my son through anorexia. It was great to see so many dedicated people together from across Scotland – mainly parents who are still struggling with an eating disorder in the family but also one or two clinicians, and the speakers, chaired by the amazing Dr Jane Morris, Consultant Psychiatrist, Eden Unit, Aberdeen.

Tuesday, 23 February 2016

It's just life... going on as normal. Good normal. Just like anyone else.

Over this last week, my son and I have gone through a heck of a lot. Not to do with his (now thankfully gone) eating disorder, but to do with a GIRL. Let me explain...

Wednesday, 10 February 2016

So much going on at the moment!

If you look back on my blog posts over the last couple of years, you'll notice that they were a bit thin on the ground for a while. That was because of the Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, etc which suddenly hit me about 27 months ago and which meant that I had to take a break from anything to do with eating disorders because I found it very triggering.

Wednesday, 3 February 2016

So how was my meeting with the guy from Leeds CAMHS?

My home city of Leeds is one of the first areas in England which is pioneering FBT (Family Based Therapy) as the primary model for treating adolescents with eating disorders in the city. It all goes back to Chancellor Of The Exchequer George Osborne's Autumn Statement in 2014 when he promised an extra £2 billion a year of additional funding for the NHS across various services including mental health. Leeds was one of the authorities that applied for funding and they were successful in their bid. So some of this funding is being used to roll out a new service for adolescents with eating disorders within the Leeds postcode area.

Tuesday, 2 February 2016

Yet another anti-obesity proposal that could be lethal for eating disorder victims

Adolphe Quételet by Joseph-Arnold Demannez
Even Adolphe Quételet,
who invented the BMI formula,
warned of its limitations
A major reason why I believe that my son's eating disorder wasn't taken as seriously as it should have been by clinicians from the GP upwards is because his BMI was still within the so-called "normal" range, despite the fact that he'd lost about a quarter of his original body weight.

Just as damaging, was the fact that my son's BMI was calculated in front of him at virtually every CAMHS session. So he was constantly being given the message that he was kind of okay and didn't need to put on much, if any, weight. Because if he did put on weight, he'd be getting "too fat".

Monday, 1 February 2016

What's the latest news about FBT in Leeds / England?

That's what I'll be asking the guy who's in charge of rolling out FBT (Family Based Therapy) for adolescent eating disorder patients in Leeds when I meet with him on Wednesday. My home city of Leeds is claiming to be a 'pioneer' in the rolling out of FBT in England and so I can't wait to hear what he has to say about plans for FBT being implemented in other parts of England. Already it's being implemented in Scotland - and England was lagging behind. I'm not sure what the situation is in Wales or Northern Ireland.

Tuesday, 26 January 2016

I'm finally happy with my Edinburgh talk!

For better or for worse, I'm a terrible micromanager. And you wouldn't believe the tweaking that's gone into my script and PowerPoint presentation for the talk I'm doing at the Scottish Eating Disorder Interest Group (SEDIG) Carers' Conference 2016 at the end of next month (Saturday 27th February). But I think I finally sorted it out. I think the main problem with my talk (which is called "Eating disorders aren't just a 'girl thing'") is that I've got such a massive story that condensing it into just 25 or 30 minutes has been a bit tricky, to say the least!

Download my blog posts on PDF for FREE - 2011-15

At last I've put all my blog posts (from 2011 when I began writing about eating disorders in boys up to the end of 2015) onto PDFs. So they're much easier to read than clicking around Blogger which can be a nightmare. The latter two years – 2014 and 2015 – tend to be a bit more thin on the ground than the other years because, as you will know if you've been following my blog, I was struggling with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder type symptoms which hit me at the end of 2013.

Saturday, 23 January 2016

And while we're on the subject of BMIs…

My sister pointed out this article about a friend of hers whose healthy, sporty son was sent home with a letter from school telling his mum that he was overweight. This especially incensed the boy's mother because she herself had been a victim of anorexia as a young woman and understood more than most people about the dangers of the many things that can trigger an eating disorder.