Saturday, 19 August 2017

"I am only a mum" - but, wow, the power of that role in eating disorder treatment!!

Commenting on fellow mum Jen's guest post on Charlotte Bevan's CharlottesChuntering blog about some eating disorder professionals viewing parents as 'interfering', Laura Collins (founder of FEAST and its forum: Around The Dinner Table) says (in relation to Jen's statement that she's 'only a mum', yet she knows more about eating disorders than some professionals):

"I am only a mum"

You are a mum, no "only" about it. It is the most important thing. Even with broken systems and loopholes -- and EVERYONE has those -- having parents who get it and know what they're dealing with is a greater power than all the authorities.

'Old' medicine versus 'new' medicine

Thinking about all that triangulation between me and CAMHS back in 2010-2012, I was wondering why on earth the treatment team wasn't up to speed with the latest developments in the world of eating disorders. And this goes for any treatment team that is still working with older treatment models and especially those eating disorder treatment models that view parents as part of the problem rather than part of the solution.

Still angry with CAMHS...

Reading through the Kartini Clinic blogs I find myself nodding my head at every click. I also find myself seething with anger (yet again) at the outdated way my son was treated for his eating disorder and the constant triangulation between the CAMHS treatment team and me, with my son 'siding' with whoever was more likely to allow his anorexia to flourish which was usually the treatment team.

Friday, 18 August 2017

"How to Weigh an Eating Disordered Child or Teen" Blog by Dr Julie O'Toole of the Kartini Clinic - why our CAMHS team did none of this

I'm on the US Portland-based Kartini Clinic mailing list. I have a huge admiration for them - they speak such sense. Today they sent me a link to a blog post entitled "How to Weigh an Eating Disordered Child or Teen" by Dr Julie O'Toole.

When my son, Ben, was being treated by CAMHS (the UK-based Child & Adolescent Mental Health Services) the weekly weighing session was always a huge problem. If Ben had put on weight then the entire therapy session would be spent fire-fighting his severe anxiety and panic. If he'd lost weight, then everything would run smoothly.

From reading various information on the Net and as a member of the Around The Dinner Table Forum for parents of young people with eating disorders, I had a gut feeling that my son should have been weighed differently. Dr O'Toole's blog post endorses my concerns - here are my comments on what she says:

Thursday, 17 August 2017

"Does my son have an eating disorder?" Yes, I was asking myself that same question back in 2009...

"Is my son developing an eating disorder?" "Does my son have an eating disorder?" It's the question that many parents of boys ask themselves as they notice unusual behaviours in their son's eating habits, attitude towards food and, perhaps, an increased focus on exercise.

New diagnostic video from the Kartini Clinic featuring presentation of an 11 yo male with restricting anorexia

Morgan O'Toole, CEO of the excellent US (Portland) based Kartini Clinic, got in touch with me to send me this link to the first of a series of videos they are making about males with eating disorders.This particular video, presented by Dr Julie O'Toole, Kartini Clinic founder and Chief Medical Officer, is about how to recognise eating disorders in boys. Here's what they say in the description:

Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Being triggered by the receptionist at the GPs' surgery

I think I know what triggered me yesterday. My 90-year old mum had been trying to call the GP all morning but (as usual) the line was constantly engaged. So I drove up there to see if my mum could see a GP ASAP.

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

I still find visits to the GP triggering...

Every time I walk into our GPs' surgery, I get SO VERY ANGRY. Today I had to take my mum in to see a GP and - zap, pow! - my anger took off into the upper stratosphere.

Basking in some serious 'me time'

One thing I have learned in the aftermath of my son's eating disorder is to 'allow' time for myself. For so many years I focused on One Thing Exclusively: my son, and his recovery from anorexia. Then, as his recovery from anorexia began to come on leaps and bounds, I blogged like crazy here, wrote books, did talks and other stuff in the world of eating disorders.

Friday, 4 August 2017

So what is my son, Ben, up to this summer?

I just thought I'd give you an update on how Ben (now aged 23) is getting on with life now that the eating disorder is well and truly behind him...

Digging around to find the 'raw me' as a foundation for my life from here onwards

The little girl who
was about to get ticked off
on her first day at school
When I was 10 or 11, I used to walk back from orchestra rehearsals on a Saturday morning (violin...) via Woolworths in the city centre. Woolworths was famous for its 'pick'n'mix' sweets (candy). I'd pick a bit of this, a bit of that until I had a bag full of my favourites. Beginning to reconstruct a post-trauma life uses a CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) technique (from Rosenthal's book Your life after trauma) that's a bit like pick'n'mix.

This technique helps you to see the wider picture of who you really are, at the core. The 'raw you', if you like. And to home in on the characteristics you want to keep and discard those negative characteristics or thought processes that you don't - those traits that may have come about as part of the trauma, weren't true to the 'real you', are no longer relevant at this point in your life, were just downright destructive, and so on.

Thursday, 3 August 2017

Do we parents really want to 'pick up where we left off' before the eating disorder struck?

A great view from the top
(see penultimate paragraph)
Most probably not. Or at least that's the case with me. My journey through my son's battle with anorexia stripped away all the cr@p and superficial stuff of life to allow me to draw on those 'core' resources that have always been part of me and to use them to get my son through the eating disorder. I threw aside all the clutter and trashy stuff, and what emerged was the real me because there simply wasn't any room in my life for anything that wasn't part-and-parcel of the core resources I needed to get my son well.

My 'negative trauma story' re-written into a 'positive trauma story'

One of the first exercises in Michele Rosenthal's workbook 'Your life after trauma - powerful practices to reclaim your lost identity' is to re-write / change your negative trauma story i.e. a short description of your current feelings about who you are as a result of going through the trauma (in our case the 24/7/365 stress of getting our son or daughter through an eating disorder). I jotted down my own version and it ended up looking something like this:

Are you, the parent, having a spot of bother with PTSD following the eating disorder?

I first mentioned PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) three-and-a-half years ago at the end of 2013 in this blog post from December 2013. And, as you'll know if you've been following my blog, I've been struggling with PTSD ever since. Or, more accurately, C-PTSD (Complex or Chronic PTSD - the result of lengthy exposure to trauma). I also know of other parents of young people with eating disorders that are currently struggling with trauma-like symptoms. As their son or daughter recovers from the eating disorder, they - the parents - find themselves debilitated with this confounded C-PTSD thing.

Tuesday, 25 July 2017

Eight years on it seems as if nothing has changed...

Last night's BBC Panorama programme was about men, boys and eating disorders. On the whole it was an excellent programme even though, for some unknown reason, they didn't mention the charity Men Get Eating Disorders Too. All the way through I found myself nodding my head. It all sounded so depressingly familiar: the typical symptoms, the lack of awareness from GPs and other medical professionals, BMIs still dictating access to treatment, long waiting lists while the patient gets even more sick, problems of accessing treatment for the 18+ age group, stock responses from NHS trusts that had failed patients, lack of Government investment, needless deaths... and the 'icing on the cake', Secretary of State for Health Jeremy Hunt declining to appear on the programme to comment...

Monday, 24 July 2017

A post from 21st June 2011 - disagreeing with the CAMHS treatment team

For a heck of a lot of time during my son Ben's treatment for anorexia, I was at loggerheads with the treatment team. They'd say one thing and my gut instinct (plus everything I was reading and hearing) said another. Since then I have never stopped believing that certain things that were said in front of my son were harmful. Here's a post I uploaded to this blog in June 2011, 16 months into Ben's treatment for anorexia.

Still the newspaper blog, this time disguising the real reason why my son was rushed to hospital...

At the end of January 2010, my (now 16-year old) son, Ben, had been on the waiting list for eating disorder treatment for a while. His descent into anorexia had been rapid and, if you've read my book Please eat...: A mother's struggle to free her teenage son from anorexia you'll know that, at the end of January, he was rushed into hospital with a dangerously slow pulse rate of just 29 bpm. Meanwhile I was still attempting to write the light-hearted blog for that regional newspaper. So the following post disguises what was really going on and the sheer horror of it all (with notes in red made today).

Saturday, 22 July 2017

Another post where I was blissfully unaware of what was happening...

Here's another post which I wrote for that newspaper back in the summer of 2009 as I continued to be blissfully unaware that my son, Ben, was sinking into an eating disorder. Had I been aware that boys and men can get eating disorders, then the alarm bells might have been ringing, but it was a couple more months before they began to tinkle - purely and simply because I was completely ignorant of eating disorder symptoms, especially in boys. If you've read my book, Please eat...: A mother's struggle to free her teenage son from anorexia, you'll recognise some of this text which I adapted for one of the chapters.

Eight years ago my son was heading into an eating disorder, but I was blissfully unaware...

Eight years ago this summer, my 15-year old son, Ben, was beginning to descend into something that was way, way beyond anything that had ever entered my psyche; something worse than my worst nightmares. But of course I was blissfully unaware that he was developing a potentially deadly eating disorder: anorexia. What I was aware of, however, that Ben was getting increasingly fussy around food. Ben, who used to eat anything and everything, had suddenly become mega health-conscious and an expert on 'healthy' nutrition. He'd also developed a passion for cooking which, at the time, I applauded. I even found it amusing as can be seen from the following blog post which I wrote on the 22nd July 2009 (8 years ago today!!) as part of a series for a regional newspaper and which I was reminded of this afternoon as Ben pummelled the dough for pizza:

Thursday, 20 July 2017

Processing anger - and the cardboard BMI calculating wheel

During the 18 weeks I was with Steve, my EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing) therapist, we processed a ton of stuff relating to my son's eating disorder. (We picked out the key issues that were haunting / bugging me still in 2017 in the hope that, by focusing on these, other issues may get processed at the same time.) One of the major issues was anger. I mean, ANGER. Even A. N. G. .E. R. Anger at those in the medical profession who made my life more difficult as the parent of a teenage boy with anorexia and, I believe, may actually have prolonged my son's eating disorder.