In less than a week since he left university Ben has already independently set himself a stack of challenges and completed them. And, increasingly, I am saying: "You have to do this yourself; I can't do it for you" or "Sorry I can't do that; I am busy". Occasionally I will throw the odd suggestion into the pot... potential activities he isn't aware of, for example local debating or history groups - and then leave it to him to do the groundwork.
Saturday, 22 September 2012
Until we met with the two ladies from Student Services on Tuesday we'd never even thought about commuting as a potentially successful way to ease Ben into university life: commuting for the first term, or even the first year, while he finds his feet and establishes a friendship circle.
Friday, 21 September 2012
It's almost the time of year when this year's (British) Upper Sixth Formers head to open days at universities across the country, just like we did last year. So, knowing what I know now and taking into account that Ben was 'almost' (but not fully) recovered from anorexia at the time, what would I do differently?
So what went wrong? So much, on so many counts. Which is why our brief flirtation with university life this week may be a useful learning curve for other parents wondering whether or not to send their post anorexia / eating disorder teenager off to university or wait another year, or even longer...
Thursday, 20 September 2012
A dismal Ben greeted me this morning in the kitchen, saying he felt like a failure and "useless". So in came Mama Matty to instantly (hopefully) put him right on that count, reinforcing the fact that he's been so courageous to admit there was a problem right at the start, rather than letting things spiral downwards... There must be loads of new students who aren't being so courageous and really should make the decision to jump ship while it's still early days and resume when they're in a better place. Like the obviously ED girls we saw walking around the university yesterday... (whose parents must be worried senseless)...
Wednesday, 19 September 2012
Things got progressively worse and by Monday evening Ben was sobbing down the phone to me, in pieces. I'd spent the day organising various counselling and mentoring people to see him, but by the evening he was in a terrible state. So the next morning saw me meeting him over coffee in a cafe near the university...
Monday, 17 September 2012
Within hours of dropping him off at uni I got the first message saying he didn't fit in with the other guys in his apartment and felt lonely... Then this lunchtime I got another message from him. I can always tell when something's up because his first message is always something like "Hi", and that's all.
Saturday, 15 September 2012
Yesterday evening after tea, Ben suddenly appeared in the living room armed with brightly wrapped gifts and cards. "These are to thank you for everything you've done for me over the past 18 years and especially over the past three years," he said as we stood with open mouths.
Wednesday, 12 September 2012
Things are going so normally here in the Matty household, it's difficult to get used to. A normal mum nagging a normal teenage son about normal things: "Promise me you won't walk home on your own late at night", "Don't forget to put your wallet in a safe place so it doesn't get stolen", "Remember to buy toilet roll and milk", "Don't put the whites in with the darks in the launderette", "Don't drink too much"... blah, blah, blah...
Wednesday, 5 September 2012
Tuesday, 4 September 2012
Literally! I've been picking Ben's brains to discover what was going on in his head when he had anorexia. Here is Part One of the result (based on the notes I made while he was talking and which will eventually be used for parts of my book)...
Monday, 3 September 2012
It's not too many weeks ago that I was still anxious about how Ben would cope with being away at university - eating, thinking and socially. But I'm astonished at how rapidly he has moved from the last little bit of the woods out into the brilliant sunshine. He is so normal. In every way. And I have every confidence that, if he continues like this, university will be the making - not breaking - of him.
Saturday, 1 September 2012
Okay, so although I had food issues as a teenager and 20-something, and okay I dabbled in a bit of bulimic behaviour on occasions, but - thankfully - I never developed a full-blown ED. Yes, I did have awful issues with men which I've described in recent posts, and yes writing about these made me feel vulnerable - like airing my dirty washing in public and opening a Pandora's box of stuff I've been trying to blank out all these years. But these "confessions" have also done something else... something really strange...