Thursday, 14 December 2017

Is this blog actually of any use in the wider scheme of things, I wonder...

Ever get the feeling that you are a tiny drop in a massive ocean? Yesterday, while I was trawling around the internet for the latest news on eating disorders, it suddenly hit me that - year upon year - we read reports about avoidable failures in eating disorder treatment, promised funding that never seems to materialise at grass roots level, failures of governments to take eating disorders seriously, media interest in eating disorders at times like Eating Disorders Awareness Week but at no other time, and - worst of all - deaths that should never have been allowed to happen.

Wednesday, 13 December 2017

Talking with other parents that 'get it' is so helpful and reassuring, in this case our battles with C-PTSD

Yesterday I met up with a dear friend who I originally 'met' through this blog. Like me, she had a teen with anorexia, and her experience of an eating disorder in the family was very similar to mine. So we hit it off right away when we initially corresponded by email and, later, met up in person.

My son and her daughter are now thankfully in remission from anorexia ('remission' or 'recovery'? I feel like it's tempting fate to say 'recovery'...) - and now our experiences are overlapping again. We are both suffering from PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) as the result of those years of battling to get our children through their eating disorder.

Tuesday, 12 December 2017

In this day and age there is no reason for any GP NOT to recognise the signs of an eating disorder

From having spoken to other families, it seems that it's a case of 'luck of the draw' as to whether you see a GP that understands eating disorders or a GP that doesn't. This report from the Independent newspaper backs up this assumption.

When I took my son to be diagnosed back in Autumn 2009, the GP didn't recognise the signs of an eating disorder. While putting together my book Anorexia came to visit - Families talk about how an eating disorder invaded their lives, I did my own research about GPs and eating disorders. Our local GP said she "probably had two lectures" on mental health and eating disorders as a medical student. Another medical student specialising in psychiatry was surprised to learn that males get eating disorders. And a representative from the RCGP told me that: "Currently only around 50-per-cent of doctors-in-training for general practice have an opportunity to undertake specialist-led mental health or in child health training placements".

Monday, 11 December 2017

The podcast that every GP needs to listen to. Full. Stop.

Dr Erin Parks of the UC San Diego Eating Disorder Center (recognised as a global centre of excellent in eating disorder treatment and research) has produced a podcast that every GP needs to listen to - or indeed anyone who wants to know the truth about eating disorders, including the estimated percentage of males suffering from eating disorders in the 21st century.

Saturday, 9 December 2017

Turning stuff on its head, the "myth of motivation in adolescent eating disorder recovery"

I clicked onto this article today and it made me laugh in a kind of grim ironic sort of way. The author talks about "how I’ve sat with many worried parents, desperate to do what is right for their adolescent child, who say, 'I really want her to get help, but it’s just not the right time. She has to want to get better.'". It goes on to explain why parents need to learn that eating disorders are serious brain illnesses and the reasons why none of us can simply can't wait for them to "want to get better". Indeed why, waiting for them to "want to recover" is a dangerous myth.

Friday, 8 December 2017

A catalogue of disgraceful and avoidable failings that led to this tragic outcome

My mum pointed out this newspaper report today about a teen who was "left to starve in her university flat". Yet again we have what appears to be an avoidable death from a deadly illness - anorexia - that seems to have come about through a catalogue of failings by the NHS.

"Life stops until you eat," say the eating disorder experts

It was F.E.A.S.T., I think, that coined the excellent phrase: "Life stops until you eat" - a phrase which I've heard many, many times on the F.E.A.S.T. forum, Around The Dinner Table, when it comes to getting your eating disordered child to eat. On Tuesday, the US-based Kartini Clinic's Dr Julie O'Toole blogged about the same topic. The topic talks about how to continue to get your child to eat and put on weight once they've been discharged from formal treatment for their eating disorder. In a nutshell, whenever they resist, you tell them that "Life stops until you eat". As Dr O'Toole says: "No friends, no going out, no cell phone, no parties, no car, no clothes shopping, no college visits. The first job is to nourish the body and all else comes after that." Indeed the focus of Family Based Therapy (FBT) as an evidenced-based model for the treatment of anorexia in adolescents is, first and foremost, "Life stops until you eat".

Thursday, 7 December 2017

Trying to describe why this is Continuous Traumatic Stress Disorder, and wondering what can be done about it...

Each of the therapists I had for my (what I assumed was and what was diagnosed as) PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) attempted to get me to believe and accept that my son's eating disorder, and all the horrors that came with it, was in the past. The idea was to 'process' the nightmarish memories so my brain began to accept that it was history and I could start to live a post-eating-disorder life free of nightmares, anxiety, fear, dread and all the other stuff that was causing nasty symptoms and making me feel 'strange' and 'trapped'.

Tuesday, 5 December 2017

Again, on the topic of PTSD, why PTSD therapy will never work for parents like us

I've been feeling frustrated that, after all the therapy sessions and treatment models I have received over the past few years for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), I still feel the way I do. So I began googling and came across something called Continuous Traumatic Stress Disorder (CTSD).

Friday, 1 December 2017

Sometimes I can talk or write about eating disorders and sometimes I can't...

It's funny how sometimes I can visit the Around The Dinner Table Forum (for parents of young people with eating disorders) and blog here, and sometimes I just can't. Sometimes I can talk about what we call 'the ED years' (the years my son was suffering from anorexia) and sometimes I just can't. And sometimes I can update my eating disorders website and sometimes I just can't.

Monday, 20 November 2017

Just when I thought the PTSD had almost been fixed...

If you've been following this blog you'll know that I've had problems with Complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder which began a few years ago. Last year I had 30+ sessions of EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitisation Reprocessing) therapy which helped a lot in that it 'processed' many of the memories of Ben's eating disorder years. That's not to say that I 'forgot' these memories, I could never do that, but what the EMDR did do was to let my brain realise that these events / memories are in the PAST and not in the PRESENT, making them a little less traumatic to deal with.

Sunday, 19 November 2017

Two bits of news!

The first bit of news is that my new eating disorders website is up and running. I still need to do a few tweaks and add some more pages, but the 'look and feel' is there now. (I know I updated it a short while ago, but I wasn't happy with it, so I've given it a refresh as well as adding a security certificate for safer browsing.)

The second bit of news is that I've just returned from a weekend in Brighton where I met up with the other new Board members of the national charity Men Get Eating Disorders Too. A month or so ago I was invited to join as a Trustee.

Sunday, 5 November 2017

What's making me jump for joy today?

Remember how the eating disorder stole my son's social life as well as so many other things in his life? Remember how, for a very, very long time, he was unable to go to school or meet up with his friends? How, gradually, the boy who'd been so popular became so very isolated and alone, so much so that on his 18th birthday in December 2011, he was virtually in tears because he was celebrating alone with just me and his dad?

Monday, 30 October 2017

Why are some eating disorder treatment teams still using outdated treatment models?

I feel a mixture of anger, sadness and fear when, in the modern world, in 2017, I hear about advice that's being given to parents of young people with eating disorders that's so very out of date. Advice like we received eight years ago along the lines of 'Don't keep going on about food, it makes him/her anxious... it's not helpful to him/her'. Worse, for food to be pretty much taken off the agenda except for playing a small 'bit part' role in the background. Or, as we were told just before the Summer of Horror in 2010, to 'take a break from the eating disorder' for the duration of our two-week family vacation. Can you believe that?

Saturday, 28 October 2017

It's vital that the parents get support when their child has an eating disorder

The other day I was having a discussion with a friend about how both of us had little or no support during the months and years that our children were suffering from anorexia. It was almost as if, as parents, it was our job to 'just get on with it'.

The fact that, outside the treatment room, we were having to deal with the hellish nightmare of an eating disorder in the family, hour in hour out, day in day out, month in month out, year in year out was pretty much ignored.

Monday, 16 October 2017

Saturday night it was about catching trains, last night it was about exams... I still have high-anxiety nightmares

I have to catch a specific train but everything is preventing me from doing so: I'm at the wrong station, I haven't bought my ticket, there's a queue for tickets that's moving at a snail's pace, there's no information on platforms and no platform numbers, I'm waiting for people to catch me up... and so on and so forth... Or, like last night, I'm about to sit the most important exam of my life yet I haven't done any revision. I haven't even been to lessons. I know zero about the subject. There are other variations on the high-anxiety nightmare, but these are the two most common nightmares I've been having for the past eight years or so.

Sunday, 15 October 2017

"Will my son always be stuck standing short of the 'finish line'?" I asked myself in September 2015

In September 2015 I was toying with the idea of writing a sequel to my book Please eat... A mother's struggle to free her teenage son from anorexia and I wrote this in the Diaro app:

The book will be about me 

Rather than my son. Mainly. How I coped (or didn't) with getting my life back. The blips we had, my worries about his weight and relapse. He is not the person he used to be and it's upsetting. But might he have been this person regardless?

Struggling to cope in a post-eating-disorder life? You are not alone...

Because I know I'm not alone in having struggled with serious trauma symptoms as our family emerged from the anorexia years, I've decided to write the occasional post about what I found myself going through from around 2015 onwards. It will be about the (Complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) symptoms and how I coped (or didn't cope) with them in the hope of helping other parents to identify with similar experiences. It will also be about other stuff that was going around in circles inside my head. Most importantly the aim will be to show you that you are not alone in feeling like this.

Back onto the subject of Complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder...

One thing my EMDR ( Eye Movement Desensitisation Reprocessing) therapist said at the start of treatment was that, as well as throwing up key memories of dealing with my son's often violent eating disorder, EMDR would probably bring old traumas back to mind. He was right - and I know I'm not the only (post-eating-disorder) mum who has experienced this.

It might be a traumatic birth experience (as it was with my son, Ben), the sudden death of a loved one, being in or witnessing a serious car accident or a myriad of other past traumas... whatever is lurking in the dark recesses of the mind, unprocessed, then it could come to light during the EMDR treatment.

Tuesday, 10 October 2017

Here's what my son, Ben, is saying on World Mental Health Day today

If you've not seen it yet, you live in the UK and you don't think it will trigger you, BBC3's recent drama Overshadowed, A vlogger's life spirals out of control. The reason? Her new “best friend” Anna. You can watch it here on BBC iPlayer.

This is a very real portrayal of what an eating disorder like Anorexia can be really like, written by a former sufferer who plays 'Anna' in the drama (the 'eating disorder voice').

The incident in the friend's bathroom is particularly reminiscent of our own experiences with Anorexia; it reminds me of the time when my son had his friends round for a sleepover on that first Christmas with the eating disorder in 2009. Something set him off and he came screaming downstairs in the middle of the night in a similar state to Imo in Episode 6.