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"

I hope she won't mind me saying it but I am in awe of Rosie Flett's mother, Kirsten, at the selflessness she is showing at this terrible and tragic time, always with thoughts of others in mind, keen to raise awareness of the devastating effect that an eating disorder can have on a family.

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.

Parents of eating disorder victims - the Biggest Fear of All

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!

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Time to end mental health stigma

Following on from Rosie Flett's tragic death I pledged to blog here as regularly as I can to continue to raise awareness of eating disorders and mental health. To reinforce this pledge I 'made it public', if you like, on the Department of Health, Lottery and Comic Relief funded Time To Change website which is building a wall of pledges from people committed to ending mental health stigma. (If you haven't done so already, can I suggest that you make a pledge of some sort too?)

Friday, 17 March 2017

A heartbreakingly powerful message about mental health

I never met Rosie, but I did meet her mother - at an eating disorders conference in London where I was giving a talk a couple of years back. I first 'met' Rosie's mother through the Around The Dinner Table Forum (for parents of young people with eating disorders) when I joined in March 2010. She was one of the first UK mums that rushed in to offer support and show that other parents were going through what we were going through as 'newbies' in the world of parenting a young person with an eating disorder. It was only later that I learned of her own struggles with ill health and other problems while battling to get her beautiful daughter successfully treated for her eating disorder.

Sunday, 5 March 2017

Can I make a request please? Can anyone who has bought my book and found it helpful please post a review on Amazon?

I don't make a fortune from my books on eating disorders, the most important of which is the account of our story: Please eat...: A mother's struggle to free her teenage son from anorexia which was published in 2013. In fact when you take into account the number of books I've given away for free and any royalties I give to charity, I barely break even. So...

The truth about what it's like to live with an eating disorder like anorexia

It's the end of Eating Disorders Awareness Week and earlier in the week one of my friend's daughters courageously wrote about what it's really like to live with an eating disorder like anorexia. I have her permission to share it with you below. Meanwhile I would like to thank this brave young woman for speaking out about something that was obviously very difficult for her to put into words, but she has done it admirably:

Wednesday, 8 February 2017

When the mental health professionals let you and your child down

On Monday I flicked on the TV and began to watch BBC's Panorama - Revealed: Britain's Mental Health Crisis which was about "the troubled state of NHS mental health services", the "deteriorating national picture for mental health care funding" and "new figures that show a shocking increase in unexpected deaths of mental health patients".

Monday, 6 February 2017

Why standard relaxation techniques are simply sticking plasters

I am so thankful for the friendship and support I have from friends and family. Last week my mum gave me a book entitled 'Quiet Moments', others have recommended hypnotherapy, mindfulness and meditation. While these activities can kind of help someone get a rest from the incessant vice-like grip of fear that is a key symptom of C-PTSD, they are more of a sticking plaster / band aid. This might be why, the other night, one of my regular nightmares was about me trying to cover up a huge wound with the smallest sticking plasters / band aids you have ever seen.

Should I be blogging about C-PTSD in a blog specifically dedicated to eating disorders in boys and young men?

Yes of course I should be for the simple reason that the latter was caused by the former - the 24/7 of caring for my son as he plummeted into and slowly emerged out of his eating disorder - anorexia - between summer 2009 (when it first became evident to me) and, probably, right up to the end of his first year at university in 2014/15 (when things began to improve quite considerably). The worst period was an 18-month stretch between October/November 2009 and Easter 2011 (when Ben and I began to implement our 'contract' which helped to turn things around). For nigh on 18 months on a daily basis... on an hourly basis... on a minute basis... I was -

Thursday, 2 February 2017

Thrilled to have found a therapist who really 'gets it'

Feels like I was dumped here...
Today I spoke to a therapist who specialises in trauma treatment - usually EMDR (an acronym for ‘Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing’) - and especially complex trauma like Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (C-PTSD). Just talking to someone who so obviously 'gets it' was incredibly liberating and after several days of feeling as though I'd been thrown out of the vehicle that was taking me on my journey to recover and forced to stop off at the worst roadside motel in the world, I feel as if a limo has come to pick me up and take me onwards.

Wednesday, 1 February 2017

I can't fix the PTSD so will have to pay for private treatment

You know me... always trying to fix things (like my son's eating disorder) and refusing to give in. Or at least that's what I used to be like. I really, really hoped that I could fix my C-PTSD (Complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) that I've been struggling with for four years (as a result of the trauma of the eating disorder years when my son was sick). Last week the NHS spat me out to fend for myself because I'd reached the end of a limited number of therapy sessions. I don't blame the therapist who admitted that this isn't the way she likes to practise. In other words, if the patient isn't recovered in a given number of sessions, then tough luck, they're out on their ear.

Tuesday, 31 January 2017

I so, so, so want to find a girlfriend for my son!!!

One of the casualties of my son Ben's eating disorder was his relationship with girls, indeed his relationship with anyone for that matter. Ben's long struggle with anorexia resulted in complete social isolation for a number of years. The good news is that, following his recovery from anorexia, he has rebuilt his social life very impressively both at home and at university. The trouble is that these friendship circles (and clubs) are almost exclusively male (sci-fi, fantasy nerdy societies like tabletop war games and dungeon and dragons style role playing). As a result Ben has little to no contact with girls. And, because he doesn't drink, he doesn't go out socially to places where he might meet girls e.g. pubs and clubs.

Monday, 23 January 2017

"Eating difficulties"... You mean like fussy kids who won't eat their vegetables?

On Friday I got a letter from my PTSD therapist saying that she was sorry I'd "felt unable to continue with the session [on Wednesday]". It also refers to the "trauma and stress associated with Ben's experience of eating difficulties"... Eating difficulties? It makes it sound oh so simplistic. Like fussy kids who won't eat their vegetables.

Naming my inner critic

Back in the mid-1980s I was PA to a very unpleasant gentleman who I will call Mr McNasty. Mr McNasty was a bully, a control freak and a misogynist. He ran a department full of women and even his second-in-command was afraid of him. Mr McNasty told me that I'd "never be anything but a lowly secretary". Okay, I pledged on that day, I'll show him. By the end of the decade I was a senior copywriter in a large advertising agency.

Thursday, 19 January 2017

Calling all Scottish parents and carers - don't miss the SEDIG carers' conference in March!

It's the annual SEDIG (SCOTTISH EATING DISORDERS INTEREST GROUP) carers' conference on Saturday 4th March 2017 in Edinburgh. Keynote speaker is Gill Todd talking about Motivational Interviewing and doing a workshop. Find out more and book a place here.

I did a talk at last year's conference and it's well worth coming along - and it's not too costly either. Gill Todd is amazing - I've met her on a couple of occasions. Such a nice person, and excellent at what she does.

If you're not recovered within a set time then - ping! - out you go!

I had the mothers (plural) of all nightmares (plural) last night. The theme was generally along the lines of being left in the lurch at the 11th hour without warning. Hmn, I wonder where that came from...

After the Christmas PTSD difficulties, I told my therapist how worried I was that I'd be discharged before I fully recovered; I was aware that NHS mental health treatment isn't infinite. She reassured me. She also reassured me that the EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) therapy would fix the PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) and that I would recover.

Wednesday, 18 January 2017

Classic flight or fight - which did I do?

Today my PTSD therapist greeted me with "I'm afraid we've only got 3 sessions left; we've had 17 and it's been limited to 20 in total. Actually, they're just about to cut it to 16 sessions max, NHS funding cuts and all that, so you've been lucky!" So, I replied, that means that in a couple of weeks I'm going to be thrown out to fend for myself? "Well, there are other options..." You mean going private, I said, I can't afford it; I'm not able to work at the moment because of the PTSD...

Friday, 13 January 2017

Remembering wonderful Charlotte Bevan...

This month marks the 3rd anniversary of the death in 2014 of one of the most loving, caring, energetic and strong women in the world of eating disorder support - Charlotte Bevan, the mother of a teen eating disorder survivor. The best way I can describe Charlotte is to re-post my blog from the 13th January 2014, so here it is: Boadicea in her chariot, guns a-blazing in the fight against eating disorders and poor treatment...

Tuesday, 10 January 2017

Why weight restoration in eating disorder treatment must come first - and why I agree with Dr Julie O'Toole on the fact

In her last blog post for 2016, Dr Julie O'Toole of the Oregon-based Kartini Clinic reminds us 'Why Weight Restoration in Eating Disorder Treatment Must Come First' and why this fact isn't exactly rocket science - yet many people continue to overlook it. As she says: So why the heck do people seem so impervious to the message that without weight restoration you get nothing? And I do mean nothing: no physical recovery AND no psychological recovery. Remember: psychological recovery is about the brain. The brain is an organ of the body; like all other organs it needs fuel to replace broken or used-up cells, and for functioning cells to communicate with each other. Starvation is as bad for children and for any other living thing. This takes no great leap of intellect: you can’t become psychologically normal in a state of malnutrition. You don’t (or shouldn't) need access to all “latest science” to know this. What happens when you starve any other mammal? Think about it. Why the resistance to this simple message?

Looking back, what do I wish I'd done differently?

Oh gosh, that's a massive question... I know what I wish our GPs and CAMHS had done differently when assessing and treating my teenage son for anorexia - but me?

The first thing that comes to mind is that I wish I'd been more forceful - both in my interactions with the medical profession and with my son.