Wednesday 18 May 2022

Can you help my son with an important study he's doing as his thesis for his MSc in Psychology? Please reply ASAP!

I am so proud of my son! At 28-years old, he's been working tooth and nail at an MSc in Psychology with the goal of using his own experiences with mental health (eating disorders in particular) to help others. What could be better? As his mum, I am 1000% behind him in his passion for psychology and am floating on air. Back in the days... months... years of his terrible eating disorder (anorexia), I could never have dreamed that he'd end up so passionate and knowledgeable about mental health issues and use his experiences to go on to help others. Just... WOW!!! Anyway, we need YOUR help...

Monday 27 December 2021

Some good things that have come out of the Covid pandemic lock-downs

If anything good has come out of the Covid pandemic, it's that lockdowns, pressure on NHS staff, etc has raised the profile of mental health issues. Increasingly, celebrities and people in the media are 'coming clean' about their own struggles with mental health. Unlike when my son began to develop the deadly eating disorder, anorexia, in 2009, there is much, much less of a stigma attached to mental health struggles. It seems completely bonkers that, back in 2009, I felt pressurised to keep my son's emerging eating disorder as a secret to avoid being blamed as a 'bad mother' i.e. the cause of my son's eating disorder - or, to protect my son, the antiquated conclusion that an individual's mental health battles are a sign of 'weakness'.

Tuesday 21 December 2021

First media interview I've done since the C-PTSD kicked in (and now, thankfully, out)

 I struggled for a long time with Chronic or Complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (C-PTSD) as a result of the horror, trauma and stress of battling to get my son through his eating disorder (anorexia). For what seems like years I was unable to face anything to do with eating disorders and that included writing this blog and talking to the media about the issue of eating disorders in boys / males. It was just too triggering.

Thursday 16 December 2021

Almost 3 years since my last post - here's an update

Things have changed enormously over the past couple of years, and not because of the covid pandemic; it's better news than that. I'm trying to remember where I left off in Ben's story, so here's a quick recap for those who want to know how Ben is getting along these days.

Sunday 27 January 2019

I have been fighting the NHS for 10 years - it should never, ever have been like this. Not for us, not for anyone.

As I said to my H last night: "I would have been surprised if (a) the NHS had offered me further help for C-PTSD, and (b) if that help had been effective evidence-based treatment over a sufficient period of time for me to recover rather than being discharged after a handful of sessions way, way too soon. It shouldn't be like this, for anyone suffering from mental health issues whether that's an eating disorder like anorexia or bulimia or a condition like Complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Friday 25 January 2019

Because I'm still being triggered, 'further therapy' has been felt to be inappropriate...

Hang on a mo, NHS... Let's see if I've got this right from the letter I've received this morning... Because I still have most of the Complex (or Chronic) Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (C-PTSD) symptoms, despite having had 'three full sessions of therapy' over the years, yet I still 'feel the same', and because I still get 'triggered by Ben' (not his fault, just that certain noises, actions, etc trigger me because I have C-PTSD as a result of the years spent battling with his anorexia and, ironically, the NHS), NHS mental health services do 'not feel further therapy would be helpful at this point' and are therefore 'discharging [me] from the service'.

Tuesday 22 January 2019

The rumblings of a developing eating disorder, 10 years ago this spring

10 years is a milestone in a life and, in our family, the past 10 years brought with them a horror that we couldn't have imagined in our worst nightmares. 10 years ago this spring, in 2009, my son began to exhibit worrying symptoms, although back then we had no idea that these were a prelude to a full-blown eating disorder like anorexia. Of course we didn't. We had no idea that boys get eating disorders just like girls.

Monday 21 January 2019

NHS have washed their hands of the matter

10 years ago this coming autumn I was cramming up on eating disorders and evidence-based treatment in order to fight for my 15-year old son to get successful treatment for his escalating anorexia. I quickly realised that the NHS wasn't going to rush this thing through despite the fact that I was rapidly learning how deadly an eating disorder can be, especially if left untreated for a lengthy period. It was only when, in the early spring that followed, my son's pulse plummeted to 29bpm and he was rushed into hospital, that NHS mental health services finally agreed to see him for eating disorder treatment. In other words, it appeared that his life had to be at risk for anything to be done.

Friday 14 December 2018

How's your year been?

I am well aware that I've been absent for much of the past year as I continue to battle with PTSD, chronic anxiety and depression - so this post is just to say that I am still here, guys, and that if living with an eating disorder in the family for year on year has had a damaging effect on your mental health, you are not alone!

Tuesday 4 September 2018

7 months on, I am still here guys...

I've had a tricky 7 months since my last post. My son is fine, going from strength to strength, whereas my own mental health and PTSD has been going in the other direction and I've found it impossible to write about or face anything to do with eating disorders. I have also been referred for more therapy in an attempt to get my head sorted out and get rid of the effects of the years of trauma. In the meantime, I have started a companion blog. I've been meaning to do it for some time, but - like so many things at the moment - have found it too overwhelming. So I'm starting small, in bite size chunks. Just the odd thought that comes to mind - and, because cycling on my bike is about the only thing I can focus on these days, the focus of the blog is cycling to improve mental health. Check it out here. But be warned... there's not much on it at the moment because I'm taking things slowly...

Friday 9 February 2018

I am still here, folks. Just needed a bit of time out from the world of eating disorders.

Over the last month or so I've found it impossible to even so much as glance at anything to do with eating disorders let alone do anything useful and worthwhile. I even had to make my excuses to the January meeting of the Men Get Eating Disorders Too charity at which I am a Trustee. I seriously couldn't face anything to do with eating disorders. Nothing. Zilch. Zero. So that's why I've been keeping a bit (or a lot) of a low profile for the past few weeks.

Tuesday 2 January 2018

In 1993 the sheer enormity of the task I was about to undertake - impending motherhood - suddenly seamed impossible

In the summer of 1993 I remember walking along the South-West coastal path in South Devon. I was six months pregnant and my emotions were all over the place. I remember sitting down on a bench overlooking the sea and bursting out into tears. The reason? Because the sheer responsibilities of impending motherhood had just hit me like a ton of bricks. Did I have what it would take to be a good or even reasonably good mother to the son or daughter inside me? Even an average mother? The sheer enormity of the task I was about to undertake suddenly seamed impossible. With my hormones all over the place, I burst into tears and couldn't stop.

Friday 29 December 2017

When your concerns that your son or daughter is developing an eating disorder aren't being taken seriously

The thing is, we parents are unique. We know our son or daughter better than anyone else in the universe. We have lived with them since the day they were born, and for the nine months beforehand. We have watched them develop and change at every stage of their young lives. So if things start to go wrong and the alarm bells begin to ring inside our heads, our unique sixth sense picks up on it and we begin to worry.

Thursday 28 December 2017

Shaking hands with his old school teachers / rugby coaches

Last year I didn't do anything on Christmas Eve; I was in the throes of a C-PTSD attack. But this year Ben and I actually made it to the annual carol service which is held in the school chapel every Christmas Eve. We've attended it every year since 2005 (except for last year and one year when it was cancelled due to snow), even through the eating disorder years. This year was the first time, since the terrible Christmas of 2009 (when Ben was roller coasting into anorexia), that I haven't felt triggered in some way.

Tuesday 26 December 2017

"Is today proving that I'm fully recovered from the eating disorder?" said Ben on Christmas Day

"Is today proving that I'm fully recovered from the eating disorder?" said Ben yesterday (Christmas Day) evening. I gave him a massive hug in a response. Really and truly if you had been a fly on the wall yesterday, nothing in Ben's behaviour would have hinted at any history of anorexia. Ben enthusiastically devoured more than one helping of Christmas dinner followed by a couple of helpings of Christmas pudding, white sauce and Christmas ice cream - and continued to snack for the rest of the day.

'Twas the night after Christmas and all through Bev's head, everything was stirring and about to kick off big-style... Delayed PTSD panic attacks after Christmas.

I know from experience that Christmas / the Holidays can be a tricky time for parents of young people with eating disorders and so I very much hope that the eating disorder didn't interfere too much with your festivities. I know how distressing it can be to watch the world going on around you, preparing for Christmas just like any other year, while, inside the house, the eating disorder is running riot. I was "there" at Christmas 2009, 2010, 2011 and, to some extent, 2012.

Following those years I've battled with my own demons at Christmas thanks to C-PTSD (Complex / Chronic Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). The worst C-PTSD Christmas attack was last year when I couldn't do anything. No cards, no carols, no Christmas Eve carol service and - if I hadn't made myself get out of bed and "just get on with it" - no Christmas Day. The 2016 C-PTSD attack took me by complete surprise and just goes to show how you can't always control what the body / brain needs to do.

Sunday 24 December 2017

What a contrast to the solitary eating disorder years...

Late yesterday evening we finally managed to pin Ben down to give him his birthday presents! Ben was 24 yesterday and had spent the past 24+ hours partying with his friends, both old and new. After dropping off the final friend at their house, he popped into the supermarket and returned with a feast of party food which we ate together in front of the fire and TV after handing Ben his birthday presents.

Friday 22 December 2017

Mourning the "lost years"...

Ben feels a deep, deep sadness at the way the anorexia stole so many years out of his life - and out of our lives, too. There's a real sense of mourning the "lost years": the years from 2009 onwards. He hates the way the eating disorder isolated him from his friends and all the fun things he could have done during those last three years at school. Although he still sees his old school friends on occasions (like tonight, for instance), it's nothing like it used to be, with Ben at the centre of things. He still feels that his friends treat him as "different" and he hates this.

"I should have been able to fix the anorexia" Ben said yesterday

I was just about to cancel Christmas due to the all-pervading sense of gloom in our household when Ben walked into the room and began to talk about what's been bothering him. Yes, he suffers from depression (we already know that and he's on a low dose of anti-depressants) and we also wonder whether he may have PTSD. After all, why wouldn't he suffer from it? He went through the prolonged trauma just like we did. However we've both decided to wait for an official diagnosis and then take it from there. He has agreed to do whatever is required to help him manage it, whether that's medication or therapy - or a combination of the two.

Wednesday 20 December 2017

Hopefully things will move in the right direction

Yesterday Ben self-referred himself to our local NHS mental health team - I'd told him that he needs to get properly and accurately diagnosed so that he can seek the right help, whether that's medication or therapy. Although, as I said before, there are still sticking points with Ben's reluctance to give up calorie counting and insistence on going for diet meals on the (rare) occasions we don't cook at home. But I do believe that he isn't going backwards as far as the eating disorder goes. I believe that the other mental health issues (Aspergers? PTSD? Bi-Polar?) are separate problems. Having said that, I am keeping my eye firmly on the ball.