A week after I posted on the Around The Dinner Table Forum about the ice-cream incident everything imploded. Ben was allowed to take back control over his eating with the caveat that if he lost weight, then I would take back control. Meanwhile there was a heck of a lot of triangulation going on with the dietitian appearing to say one thing and the rest of the CAMHS team saying another. On top of this I had my husband siding with CAMHS, so I really did feel like the Arch Baddy in the proceedings.
Tuesday, 25 April 2017
This is a thread from 10th May 2010 which I posted on the Around The Dinner Table Forum (which exists to support parents of young people with eating disorders). I desperately needed advice on how to get my son to eat as he'd arrived at the stage where 'Mum's Eating Plan' was about to be thrown out of the window. We really had done well, food-wise, up to this stage even though it had been really tricky. God only knows what I would have done without the support I found on the ATDT forum. I daren't even guess how things might have panned out... This thread also shows the roller coaster or cat-and-mouse nature of the eating disorder. Just when you think you're seeing progress it all goes t*ts-up again.
Monday, 24 April 2017
This is another thread from April 2010 which I posted on the Around The Dinner Table Forum (which exists to support parents of young people with eating disorders), this time about my son's fear of fats, my increasing stress levels and despair, plus the fact that we couldn't take our eyes off him for a moment (see summary at end). It was just one nightmarish roller coaster and I have no idea how I managed to go on from day to day, not helped by a local GP who was completely disinterested in the fact that my son had anorexia nor the fact that we had large gaps between CAHMS sessions.
Here is a second post from 11th April 2010 on the Around The Dinner Table Forum (which exists to support parents of young people with eating disorders). What this post demonstrates is the roller coaster nature of an eating disorder: one day things are HELLISH and yet the next there are chinks of light at the end of the tunnel followed by HELL again. It's a bit like a game of Cat and Mouse in that just when you think you're getting somewhere the eating disorder muscles in again and you're back where you started. It also demonstrates the similar roller coaster relationship that I had with the CAMHS team: one minute they were great and the next they were saying stuff that was potentially harmful. (Please note that, as with all these forum posts, I'm only posting my words, not those of the parents who responded, for confidentiality reasons.)
Friday, 21 April 2017
What follows is a short thread I posted on the Around The Dinner Table Forum in early April 2010 asking the question: "Any lunch suggestions? Run out of ideas!!" Unsurprisingly I was finding it mega difficult to get my son to eat using Eating Plan 6 which CAMHS had given me. It was full of all kinds of stuff that he wouldn't have touched with a barge pole: sponge pudding, custard, butter, cheese... The only things I could get him to eat were from his minuscule list of 'healthy' foods like diet this and that, vegetables and fruit. As a result, getting my son to eat enough calories meant getting him to eat a HUGE VOLUME of this low calorie stuff and by the 11th April, around 4 or 5 weeks into CAMHS treatment for his eating disorder, I had run out of ideas.
"Nearly at target weight but mindset is way off... what now?" My 3rd post from March 2010 on the ATDT parents' forum.
One of the first things I did, when we found ourselves sitting in front of our local CAMHS team all those months into my son's escalating anorexia, was to ask if we'd be given an Eating Plan. This was met with some surprise, but in the end the nurse rooted around in her briefcase and pulled out a 'typical eating plan'. It was entitled Eating Plan 6 (I've no idea how it differed from numbers 1 - 5). Rightly or wrongly, yet desperate for my son to put on weight, I embraced Eating Plan 6 with a vengeance and did my best to implement it. But without any support, indeed CAMHS were quite resistant to what became known as 'Mum's Eating Plan', it was never going to work. My son refused to eat anything on the Plan, so I found myself having to tweak Eating Plan 6 considerably. But I did manage to get some weight onto my son during those early months with CAMHS. In late March 2009, I posted the following on the Around The Dinner Table Forum, asking the question: Nearly at target weight but mindset is way off... what now?
But if you don't have the cash, then what's the point of raising awareness about adult mental health?
Earlier this year I sat down in front of my NHS EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) therapist (for my Chronic Post-Traumatic Stress) only to be told that we had just THREE SESSIONS left. And you know what? I was LUCKY that I'd been offered TWENTY sessions in total; very soon the NHS would CUT these to just SIXTEEN. I was also DOUBLY LUCKY because I'd had a large number of other sessions prior to this - a mix of CBT and psychotherapy (which obviously didn't work, hence why I was undergoing EMDR).
Thursday, 20 April 2017
During those early weeks of CAMHS treatment for my son's eating disorder, I clashed with his therapists quite a few times on food-related things. One of these things was: Do we do calories or do we do portion sizes? The general rule was that we should do portion sizes but the trouble was that my son's food intake was super-low in calories i.e. virtually just salad or vegetables. So a portion of that kind of thing was, in my opinion, going to do naff all when it came to putting on weight. Quite the reverse, in fact. This is why my gut instinct told me to go for calories. This way I could be sure that he was eating enough. Or, at least that was the case as long as I was allowed to take control of his food intake. As soon as this control was passed over to him (as happened just a few months into treatment), his calorie intake went downhill. But that's another story. Here is my second post on the Around The Dinner Table Forum in March 2009 which asked the question: Re feeding: calories or portion sizes?
From the very first moment I posted on the Around The Dinner Table Forum in March 2009 I realised I'd found the support I'd been craving for so many, many months. After feeling completely alone and isolated in having to deal with a teenage child with an eating disorder, I finally felt that I was amongst friends. True friends. Real, caring parents who 'got' what it was like to live with an eating disorder in the home 24.7.365. I am posting some of these threads here in the hope that they may help other parents who've just embarked on this nightmarish journey, show them that they are not alone and lead them to the support they need on this wonderful forum. Here is the rest of that first cry for help on 9th March 2009, edited slightly for length:
Wednesday, 19 April 2017
When I uploaded that first post on the Around The Dinner Table Forum in March 2009 I was astonished at the incredible response I got from other parents who had 'been there, done it' or where 'still in there, but doing it' - from the UK and across the English speaking world. I finally felt that I had the support I craved and was amongst people who 'got it'. If you are a parent of a young person with an eating disorder I can't recommend this forum highly enough. It was a true life-saver for me. Here are a few of my responses to the replies I received following that first cry for help on 9th March 2009:
If you're going through the hell of being a parent of a young person with an eating disorder, and especially a boy with anorexia, you might be able to identify with my posts on the Around The Dinner Table forum. This is my first post from 9th March 2010:
The Around The Dinner Table Forum is an amazing forum for parents of young peope with eating disorders. In case you haven't discovered it yet, here's what its founder, Laura Collins, said in the Introduction to my second book When Anorexia Came to Visit about the F.E.A.S.T. community and its online forum Around The Dinner Table (ATDT):
I'm receiving private EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) therapy for the Chronic Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and we're gradually working our way through things that trigger it off. Over the past three weeks it's been flashbacks to various CAMHS sessions when things were said and done that, in my opinion, made my 16-year old son's eating disorder worse, not better. Amongst the strongest memories are those of the early CAMHS sessions which began 4 or 5 months after I first took my son to see our GP. Back then, CAMHS didn't seem to think the eating disorder was too bad. Ben was acting as if nothing was wrong and that it was just fussy, anxious mum worrying in the way mums do. He also looked pretty OK in their eyes (except they hadn't seen him as a big, burly rugby player).
Someone posed the question after sharing this article on Facebook: What are GOOD things to say? What would you like to hear other than 'cuppa?' Which immediately brought back memories of my wonderful friend, Sue, who was always there for me during the dark days of my son's eating disorder. Sue, who lost her life to breast cancer five years ago (is it really five years?), who would willingly lend an ear over a coffee and cake. Just after she died, I wrote the following at a writers' workshop in an attempt to describe what Sue was like which I haven't posted online until now:
I know what parents who are still going through the hell of an eating disorder might say: "Think yourself chuffing lucky, Bev, that you're through this. I'd give my right arm to be shot of this deadly thing that's hi-jacked our family." But for those parents out there who are stuck in my situation, I'd like to describe a little of what's been going on inside my head.
Saturday, 1 April 2017
Yes he is disappointed about the teacher training interview, but he's dealing with it brilliantly. In between the huge amount of studying he is doing for his Master's Degree he's keeping an eye out for job opportunities. He has also submitted an application to UCAS for various teacher training opportunities whether in-school training or the more traditional college route.
Tuesday, 28 March 2017
Initially, once he's finished his Master's Degree in Medieval History, Ben wanted to do a PhD and so he could teach at a university. But the fees are too high. However the other week he met up with his old history teacher from school for a coffee. She told him about a new scheme available at some UK independent schools where you can train to teach on the job - a bit like the Government's Teach First scheme, but at a private school (with potentially less disruptive pupils). And - excitement, excitement - the other week The Dream Job came up: the chance to train as a history teacher at his old school! Wow and super-wow!!
Thursday, 23 March 2017
"I no longer have to dread the calls in the middle of the night saying she is in hospital again after another overdose"
Kirsten has paid the highest possible price. She has lost her much-loved and beautiful daughter. She has received the news that every parent dreads - and, despite having to face the unthinkable, Kirsten wants to do her very best to prevent this happening to other families by speaking out.
As you know I'm having EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing) therapy for my Complex Post Traumatic Stress (C-PTSD). Unfortunately I've had to go private as the NHS is only permitted to offer 16 or so sessions and if you're not recovered in that time, then... well... to put it bluntly... you're out on your ear. Yesterday I came to the session with a whole raft of triggers that had occurred since the last time I was there (a fortnight before). Initially after our last session I'd felt elated and light - as if a great big thick cloud had been lifted and the sun had started to come in. I really felt that this was it: the EMDR was working - it was a miracle!