Once upon a time I had a brilliant career as a freelance copywriter, working from home for businesses up and down the country, writing websites, sales letters, brochures... in short, everything to do with sales and marketing. Then anorexia invaded our home and gradually I had to cut back on work to spend more time focusing on helping my son to recover. By summer 2010, I was having to turn down work left, right and centre, trimming my business back to a couple of hours a week... if I was lucky. OK, we had to make huge financial sacrifices, but with anorexia on the scene I didn't feel much like treating myself to shopping trips or holidays, anyway. But I always said "We'll be OK as long as my husband doesn't lose his job". I think you can guess what's coming next...
Wednesday, 26 January 2011
With anorexia, bulimia and other eating disorders, there is a light at the end of the (often very long and grueling) tunnel for many teenagers. However the heartbreaking fact is that not everyone makes it. Statistics show that over the last ten years, the number of children hospitalised in UK NHS hospitals with eating disorders has risen by one third. A recent press release reported that there had been 800 emergency admissions for eating disorders in 2009. Statistics also show that eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any psychiatric illness – and only 35 per cent of sufferers ever fully recover while 18.5 per cent die and the remainder semi-recover.
I'm not saying this to scaremonger, but to be realistic.
I'm not saying this to scaremonger, but to be realistic.
The absolutely brilliant anorexia / bulimia / eating disorders website F.E.A.S.T. has just set up a 'Hall of Fame page' comprising what its Forum contributors believe to be the most helpful posts over the past few years. (Scroll down the page to get to the list.)
Tuesday, 25 January 2011
In a recent report, Child Psychologist Dr Sarah Ravin explores the belief that certain people are predisposed towards developing the particular brain disorder known as 'anorexia nervosa'. In short, she (and many other experts) believes that, while two different teenagers might embark on a weight-loss diet or significantly increase sports activities "without appropriate caloric compensation" (to give two examples only), one teenager might go on to develop anorexia nervosa whereas the other won't. The reason being that one teenager's brain chemistry is predisposed to react in a certain way to food restriction whereas the other teenager's brain is not. And anorexia is always "precipitated by a period of low nutrition".
Friday, 21 January 2011
Two massive challenges in one meal: fatty sausages and cheesy mashed potato. Both are things which would have sent Ben into a frenzy a few months ago. But yesterday he ate both, without any problem at all. In fact, for the first time for AGES, he actually saw the sausages cooking, surrounded by oozing fat and it didn't faze him at all.
Over the past 18 months Ben and I have got to know the beautiful local countryside very well indeed. We've walked and talked... walked and talked again... and again... and again... across all four seasons... in the hot sun, the crunchy leaves of Autumn and the deep snow.
Wednesday, 19 January 2011
The trouble with anorexia and other eating disorders is that many people just don't 'get it'. As a parent of an anorexia sufferer the learning curve is bad enough - I never studied as hard as this on my university degree! As a result you can feel terribly alone, as if you're living in a parallel world to everyone else.
Saturday, 15 January 2011
"I found yesterday really hard," said Ben out of the blue when frying the onion in oil (yes, oil!). "In what way?" I asked. "Loads of ways," he said, "starting with the girls on the school bus who wouldn't stop talking about diets, then P and L were talking about their latest diet in Psychology, then at break N offered me some crisps [chips] and a chocolate muffin. It was really hard..."
Friday, 14 January 2011
When anorexia first became obvious in our lives, I knew NOTHING about this horrible mental illness. So, back in Autumn 2009 I began the biggest learning curve of my life. But if you're a parent of a new anorexia sufferer who's arrived at this stage, where do you start?
Thursday, 13 January 2011
When the anorexia was at its height (and before he was banned from the kitchen) Ben would spend AGES preparing food. He would ritualistically chop dried fruit and other fruit into tiny pieces and eat a diet which scarcely changed from one day to the next - behavior that is common with anorexia sufferers.
Wednesday, 12 January 2011
This afternoon I had a walk in the park with Ben which is always a great opportunity for a chat about how his recovery from anorexia is progressing. I pointed out how different our conversations are these days compared with a year ago when I felt I was banging my head against a brick wall, trying to reason with the warped, irrational thinking caused by anorexia. Nowadays Ben can see it as exactly that - the fact that, back then, the anorexia was convincing him that black was definitely white or whatever.
The analogy that anorexia is like a battle is a pretty obvious one to make. But as an enemy, anorexia is extremely cunning. It's as if the anorexia realises that it is losing on the main fronts so it brings in reinforcements - a new anorexia battalion that we didn't know existed. You can almost see the anorexia jumping up and down with devilish glee...
Tuesday, 11 January 2011
Anorexia and school... 12 months ago when the anorexia was at its height a typical school day might have looked like this...
Monday, 10 January 2011
A fellow mum of an anorexia sufferer has put together a 19 minute movie which covers most of the questions asked by parents worried that their teenage daughter (or son) might be suffering from anorexia nervosa or an eating disorder.
Friday, 7 January 2011
Following our weekly CAMHS meeting today, (teenage anorexia sufferer) Ben's weight continues to hover around the same level. He is delighted with that weight, but we all know it needs to be a few kilo higher to be considered as 'healthy'.
Thursday, 6 January 2011
What do smoked mackerel, After Eight mints, low fat spread and jam on toast, 5 varieties of biscuit and carrot cake have in common? They are all things that, 12 months ago, (teenage anorexia sufferer) Ben would have avoided like the plague but which he's eaten this week without any problem. And this Christmas, he had a chocolate advent calendar.
Wednesday, 5 January 2011
Eating disorders and anorexia nervosa... Only last night there was a prog on ITV reporting on the pressures of young girls to look stick-thin. But it's not just girls that develop eating disorders. For the past 18 months, my 17 year old teenage son (who I'll call 'Ben' in this blog) has been battling with anorexia nervosa and this new blog will be about our progress.