Thursday, 9 April 2015

Painting over past memories and nightmares

"You know those test paint patches on the horrible yellow wall?" I said to the decorator yesterday as he began work on our hallway, stairs and landing. "We did those six years ago!" I explained that the reason we'd finally got around to completing the job (see pic on left for completed job) was because, shortly after we experimented with different paint colours, my son had fallen sick. It's only now, six years on, that we've begun to pick up where we left off. "Next is the living room and kitchen, then the back bedroom, the loft, the small bedroom... the whole house needs a fresh coat of paint!"

Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Going back to my roots - why I began blogging in Jan 2011

Gosh, it's 52 months since I first began this blog about my experience of helping my teenage son to overcome anorexia! Back then I was a bit anxious about starting a blog so I sent a few blogging samples to various friends in the world of eating disorders like the Fairy Blogmother herself, Laura Collins, the founder of F.E.A.S.T. (Families Empowered And Supporting Treatment of Eating Disorders), the oracle of help for parents of young people with eating disorders, and its sister site, the Around The Dinner Table Forum.

Sunday, 29 March 2015

A 'new approach' to eating disorder treatment that points the fingers at mothers again... Aaarrgghh!

Gloucester (that is, the Gloucester in the States, not the Gloucester here in the UK), is promoting a 'new approach' to eating disorder treatment in which 'mothers and daughters are educated together about eating disordered behavior, and the family and cultural patterns that contribute to it.' Apparently mothers talk too much about the size of their thighs and such like which triggers their daughters (no mention of sons here) to go on diets and develop eating disorders. Apparently 'learning to think differently about food and one’s body is the pathway to changing destructive eating patterns.'

Thursday, 26 March 2015

It's liberating to know it's not me, it's the way the brain works...

"Well, don't," has been one of my husband's favourite responses over the past 16+ months as I've struggled with the symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress. He would ask: "What's wrong?" I'd respond with something like: "Well, you know... I'm just feeling a bit down and that..."

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

The easy way to read my blog from 2011, etc

I began this blog in January 2011, almost a year on from when my teenage son began treatment for anorexia. Important and useful archive posts like these can so often be missed on eating disorder blogs (all that clicking to and fro!) which is why I've created a linear PDF of every post from 2011 which you can read by clicking here... Other parents have told me that my earlier posts were a tremendous help for them. One even described them as a 'lifesaver'. This isn't me being big-headed or boastful, it is simply me trying to ensure that any other parent facing this horrible illness has access to as much helpful information as they possibly can - because, as we know only too well in our family, learning about eating disorders and their effective treatment is a MASSIVE LEARNING CURVE that you can ill afford when you are battling to save your son or daughter from descending into the hell of anorexia. So please do check out this PDF and the subsequent years which you can find on this web page.

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Example of successful CBT in practice from yesterday

As you know, to help overcome my acute anxiety issues that remain following my therapy for PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) (as a result of training my brain to realise that my son has recovered from anorexia and is not still in the throes of it).... I have been using a combination of CBT tools learned through therapy and further CBT tools from the excellent Anxiety & Worry Workbook. Yesterday was a superb example of CBT in practice - and how it can be very successful. It may be of use to anyone else going through episodes like this.

Monday, 23 March 2015

How do visitors to the RCGP website access resources for eating disorders?

Well, at the time of writing, the answer is that, if they visit this page on the UK's Royal College of General Practitioners' website, they don't. This page says that it provides links 'to a range of eating disorder resources' and two of the most important links are broken - the links to the MARSIPAN guidelines for adults and adolescents with eating disorders.

Saturday, 21 March 2015

Normal service is resumed; I am soooooo much better

As you probably gathered, for the whole of 2014 and a few months either side, I was suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). In total I must have undergone 50-odd (private and NHS) sessions of various types of therapy. Last week saw my final NHS appointment with Zoe, the truly amazing and lovely (primarily) EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing) therapist.

Thursday, 19 March 2015

"So can I have a big present, then?"

... asked Ben a moment ago. You see I've been transferring my 2013 blog posts into a PDF (more linear for people to read) and I told him how stark the contrast was between the Ben of 2013 and the Ben of today. "I am so proud of you!" I said. "You've come on leaps and bounds in the past 18 months!"

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

I might just write to my MP again, thus...

Dear Fabian Hamilton [MP, Labour, Leeds North East],

On 27th March 2013 - 2 years ago - I met with you in Harehills to talk about eating disorders. As a reminder, this is a copy of the letter I sent to you beforehand:

The General Election is looming. Would my MP's response have been different this year, I wonder?

Like many people, I am cynical when it comes to politicians. And it crossed my mind that had I seen my local (Labour) MP Fabian Hamilton (Leeds North East) this month as the General Election looms rather than 2 years ago, would he have got back to me? Hmn... I wonder who I will be voting for in the General Election...

It's nearly 2 years since I met with our MP to talk about eating disorders. The result?

On 27 March 2013 I met with my local MP Fabian Hamilton (Labour) to talk about the problems facing 18+ year olds who are still suffering from an eating disorder but, because of their age, are being discharged from CAMHS (the UK-based Child & Adolescent Mental Health Services) and either transferred to Adult Services or left to their own devices - because, as a 'legal adult', they are permitted to choose whether or not to continue treatment. So what happened?

Friday, 13 March 2015

One of the (many) bits I really like in Jennifer Denise Ouellette's article...

Despite the fact that, very sadly, not every family has access to such a wonderful and clued-up eating disorders treatment programme as that offered by the UCSD Eating Disorders Center, I really do love this article by fellow mum Jennifer Denise Ouellette on how relatives, neighbours, teachers and friends can assist when a family is battling with an eating disorder. I hope the author won't mind me reproducing one of the best bits below. It's relevant to my earlier post about how 'the public at large' may interpret an eating disorder:

Why the secrecy?

I've been doing a lot of thinking lately, especially after my recent PTSD-imposed 'break' from reading, writing and talking about eating disorders. Today I had a kind of epiphany moment and it was this... I have two Facebook pages: one for everything to do with eating disorders and another for everything else. And never the twain shall meet, kind of thing. But why? Why do I keep so silent about eating disorders on my 'main' Facebook page? I mean really WHY do I ignore eating disorders on that Facebook page?

This kind of experience would have freaked him out in the Bad Old Days...

So, around 2.30pm yesterday, I collected 21-year old student, Ben, from the railway station. He (with his dyed 'blackcurrant', straightened hair, long black leather coat, steam punk waistcoat, drainpipe black trousers, etc) flopped into the passenger seat and began to devour a huge bowl of chicken couscous salad, a packet of crisps and other goodies. "Boy, have I got a story to tell you!" he exclaimed. And, without doubt, this is the kind of experience that would seriously have freaked him out when he was under the influence of the eating disorder. But yesterday he just took it in his stride.

I urge you to think of this family today...

If you believe in the power of prayer, and even if you don't, I would urge anyone that reads this blog today to think about a family whose daughter's life is currently hanging in the balance - another victim of an eating disorder, another example of how this deadly illness does its level best to destroy life. xxxx

Thursday, 12 March 2015

Thank you, some great responses on Facebook

I recently came across an old Chinese saying which went along the lines of (and I paraphrase!): Look after Number One before you begin to think about looking after anyone / anything else. Or something like that. So I wrote Look After No1 in my desk diary for this week, just in case I forgot to follow that wise advice. And, from the responses to the link to yesterday's blog on my Facebook page, it seems that everyone is saying the same. I shouldn't feel guilty about saying sorry, no, I can't take this on - and this is why... And that my own recovery comes first. Which is, of course, totally true. Thank you to everyone that came back with wonderful, caring comments. I really do appreciate it.

Wednesday, 11 March 2015

I need a break from campaigning, but I've been volunteered onto a 'cause'!

I've got a bit of a dilemma. Before and during my son's eating disorder, I was the kind of person that campaigned for things. During the eating disorder it was, obviously, to raise awareness of eating disorders in boys through this blog, my books, talks and so on. Now, post-eating-disorder, I am completely burned out. The very thought of campaigning for anything sends me scuttling for the security of my bed. It's why I've had to put any eating disorder advocacy 'on hold' for the moment and why I've been somewhat AWOL with this blog and my Facebook page.

For parents, life doesn't just ping back to 'normal'

At the end of this very excellent article about how relatives, neighbours, teachers and friends can assist and support parents as they battle to get their child through an eating disorder, Jennifer Denise Ouellette (a member of the Parent Advisory Committee at the renowned UCSD Eating Disorders Center) says: "...this is not a case of just waiting for everything to return to 'normal.' Our lives will never be the same again and it helps us to embrace that. In the best cases our children will fully recover and we, and our families, will still be fundamentally changed by the terrifying experience of seeing our child slip away and having to pull him/her back to us inch-by-excruciating inch." Too true, but all too often ignored by relatives, neighbours, friends, etc.

Thursday, 26 February 2015

No wonder we parents are all so screwed up, post-eating-disorder!

Following some feedback from other parents, it appears that I'm not alone in struggling with post-trauma problems. The Good News is that our sons and daughters have recovered or are almost recovered from their eating disorder / anorexia / bulimia. The Bad News is that once we, as parents, sit back, relax a little and begin to think about moving on with our lives... zap! pow! our own minds begin to scream out "Aaarrrggghhh!" Which, when you think about it, isn't in the least bit surprising.