Thursday 27 January 2011

Juggling work, play and anorexia

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

Anorexia - proof of what we're up against...

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.

Help from other parents of teenagers with anorexia / bulimia / eating disorders

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

Predisposed towards anorexia?

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

Fatty sausages and cheese - two fingers up at the anorexia!

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.

Walking and talking about the anorexia...

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

Anorexia parents, importance of good friends

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

Anorexia - being honest and keeping talking

"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

Exercise and honesty with anorexia

Oh boy, two issues here: compulsive exercise and honesty in anorexia / eating disorders. Both came to light during today's meeting with CAMHS.

Anorexia - getting support from the school

Back in November 2009 after (teenage anorexia sufferer) Ben started behaving very strangely at school, I decided it was time to 'come clean' and tell school about the anoriexia...

Anorexia from a parent's perspective - what helped most?

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

The anorexia gets weaker...

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.

Anorexia - more comparisons with a year ago...

Telling (17 year old recovering anorexia sufferer) Ben about this blog, he said: "Why don't you tell them about when I cooked the evening meal last night?" which he did as a 'surprise' for me.

Wednesday 12 January 2011

Anorexia - little challenges win big battles

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.

Anorexia brings in reinforcements

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 - a typical school day 12 months ago

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

Anorexia questions answered

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

Anorexia Nervosa - the need to put on weight...

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

Anorexia breakthoughs - the eating disorder is losing the fight...

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

Anorexia nervosa hits teenage boys as well as girls...

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.