Thursday, 14 September 2017

What is FBT (Family Based Treatment) for eating disorders? What is the Maudsley Approach? Here's an excellent guide...

One of my fellow Around The Dinner Table parents has put together this excellent guide which explains what FBT (Family Based Treatment for eating disorders otherwise known as 'the Maudsley Approach') is all about. Many families have found this evidence-based eating disorders treatment model to be extremely effective. This parent has kindly allowed me to reproduce her guide here.

Tuesday, 12 September 2017

"Me too!" - comments from parents, for parents, on F.E.A.S.T.'s 'Nourishing Words' blog

When a family finds itself facing a devastating eating disorder like anorexia or bulimia,it can be so reassuring to know that you're not in this alone: to read about other families' experiences, to discover what did and didn't work for them and, most important of all, to discover that young people can recover and go on to lead normal and fulfilled lives.

Friday, 8 September 2017

University with an eating disorder? To take a gap year, or not?

It's that time of year again when young people are heading off to university. If you remember, my son headed off to Sheffield University in September 2012, six months after being discharged from eating disorder treatment. The CAMHS nurse said she "couldn't see any reason why he wouldn't be ready to go to university in September". Me, well I was a bit less sure. And in the event, as  you may remember if you've been following my blog, Ben lasted two or three days before he was back home for an impromptu 'gap' year. Here's an edited version of something I wrote on the Around The Dinner Table forum (for parents of young people with eating disorders) about that gap year and why it was a Good Decision for my son.

Wednesday, 6 September 2017

Are you a parent or carer? Are you new to the world of eating disorders?

Whether it happens suddenly or gradually, realising that your son or daughter has an eating disorder like anorexia or bulimia is devastating. At a time when you're desperately seeking help for your child and wondering how you can help as a parent, you're also faced with a massive learning curve - because, unless you've experienced an eating disorder before, the world of eating disorders is probably about as far off your radar as you can get. Just like it was for us.

Monday, 4 September 2017

And on a lighter note... What's Ben up to at the moment?

Well, one thing my son Ben ISN'T up to at the moment is starting the post-graduate teacher training course (PGCE) which he was to have begun this week. Basically, he's spend the entire summer working on his Master's Degree dissertation which has to be submitted on Wednesday. He's put a heck of a lot of work into this and, to be honest, the poor guy needs a bit of a breather. Also, because of the dissertation, he's not been able to prepare for the PGCE in any way. So it made sense to postpone it.

To exercise or not to exercise? The dangers are real...

Having posted two posts about the problems we had with compulsive exercising when my son was suffering from anorexia - and having read through Dr Julie O'Toole's excellent article about the dangers of exercising with anorexia - I must add that, yes, there is a real danger that exercising can kill. There is no easy way to say this: eating disorders do kill and one of the biggest killers is heart failure. And we should know... My son ended up in hospital not once but twice with Bradycardia (abnormally slow pulse). So, knowing the potential dangers, why did we allow him to continue to exercise?

I've just been reminded of this wonderful poem my son wrote following his recovery from the eating disorder

On the Around The Dinner Table forum (for parents of young people with eating disorders), some of us have been thinking about the way the eating disorder is like a separate entity to our sons or daughters. In our house we used to refer to the eating disorder as 'the anorexia demon', 'the demon ED [eating disorder]' or 'the ED voice'. It reminded me of this poem which my son wrote following his recovery from anorexia; the poem is aimed at 'the ED voice'...

An extract from my book about my son's addiction to exercise

While I'm on the subject of controlling an exercise addiction as part of an eating disorder, here's an extract from my book Please eat...: A mother's struggle to free her teenage son from anorexia which describes the extent of my son's addiction to exercise (during his struggle with an eating disorder).

Controlling an exercise addiction as part of an eating disorder

Eating disorders in boys (and girls) aren't just about cutting back on food; there can also be a host of other issues - and one of the big issues that many families face is an addiction to exercise which can be punishingly difficult to fix.

With my son, Ben, exercise acted as a kind of purge - not unlike Bulimia with its vomiting / laxative purging. He felt the need to micro-manage input and output: whatever went in (food and drink) had to come out in the form of exercise. Often entire days (and nights) could be centred upon input, output, without any room inside his head for anything else.

Sunday, 3 September 2017

Eating disorder recovery? Is your child 'stuck'? Do they need something to nudge them forward? This solution worked for us, so it might just work for you...

Recently a mother emailed to ask if I had any tips for what to do when your child is 'stuck'. Your child has got 'so far' in their eating disorder recovery but - for some reason - have found themselves 'treading water', unable to move forward. Here's an edited version of my reply, in case your son or daughter is 'stuck' and needs encouragement to continue to move in the right direction towards eating disorder recovery.

Friday, 25 August 2017

UK waiting times for eating disorder treatment are getting worse, not better, according to The Times

"In Coventry and Warwickshire, which had the longest waiting times, patients waited on average for 14 weeks last year to see a specialist... despite extra money from the government to cut waiting times", says this article in today's Times newspaper. The Times also discovered that "Some trusts were still using BMI readings to decide whether to accept a patient for specialist treatment, despite Nice saying that they should not after criticism that this risks turning people away because they are not thin enough".

Wednesday, 23 August 2017

My son's MA dissertation is almost complete!

Over the past few years I have been astonished and impressed at how my son, Ben, has knuckled down to studying and organising his time like a true pro. For someone for whom anxiety was a massive issue during his eating disorder, Ben sailed through three years of undergraduate degree, course work, dissertation and exams followed by 12 months of a master's degree, course work and now a dissertation that he's been working on flat-out and diligently over the summer break to be handed in (hopefully!!) next Friday.

I really, really want to write a sequel to my book 'Please eat...' but I just can't...

It's been on my 'to do' list for some time now. After all, it's been four years since I published the story of my son's struggle with and recovery from anorexia: Please eat... But every time I decide that, yes, this is the day I'll start work on the sequel, I open up the folder I've created on my PC, have a quick read of the final chapter and epilogue (written in 2014) of Please eat... and quickly close it again.

I just can't do it. It seems 'too big'. When I think of the work I put into Please eat, I just go into panic mode at the thought of doing it all again. Even though, of course, the sequel will be largely positive stuff except, probably, my own emerging issues with Complex Post-Traumatic Stress  Disorder (C-PTSD). This is probably why I can't face it yet. Writing my blog is far simpler and 'do-able', as is responding to parents' issues on the Around The Dinner Table Forum (for parents of young people with eating disorders).

Tuesday, 22 August 2017

Son or daughter about to leave for university or college? Worried about how they will cope? Links to my blog posts about my son's experience at university

I've put together some links to past blog posts which describe how my son got on at university. In a nutshell, my son went away to Sheffield University in 2012. He lasted 2 or 3 days before he was back home for an impromptu 'gap year'. One year later he made a second attempt which, despite a rocky first year, was a success. He is just completing his Master's Degree from the same university. So if your child is going away to university this September and you're a bit worried - or it doesn't work out - check out the links below to see what worked (and what didn't!) for us. Ultimately our story is a Very Positive One even though it starts off a bit negatively...

Monday, 21 August 2017

The approach to eating disorder treatment in UK is changing - Good News!

Of course many CAMHS services here in the UK have changed the way they treat eating disorders in adolescents. My local CAMHS services is one of these. Outdated treatment models for eating disorders are being replaced with the latest evidence-based treatment with other treatment models available for young people for whom the Maudsley-inspired Family Based Treatment turns out to be unsuitable. This is fantastic news and whenever I hear about this I find myself wanting to shout: "See? I was right?!"

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.