Back in the pre-anorexia days, Ben loved nothing better than to go out with his friends and have a giggle. Yes, he was serious at times but on the whole, he was funny and enjoyed life. Then along came the anorexia and gradually seeped all the heart, life and soul out of him. It sucked him dry of all his humour, enjoyment and good emotions - and at the worst point it was if he had no emotions at all. He'd just stand there like a zombie, staring into space, completely unable to FEEL anything. He was totally numb. And he wouldn't respond if you tried to hug him or tell him you loved him. He'd watch TV comedy shows without moving a face muscle and would be as miserable as sin whenever we were out anywhere. It was horrible...
When he went out with his friends, he simply went through the motions. He pretended to have fun, but inside he was completely dead. Christmas was heartbreaking because he felt completely numb emotionally. When he found he'd got excellent GCSE results in the summer, it meant absolutely nothing to him. Ditto holidays, lovely weather, nice walks, presents, etc.
Yes I know that, since September, he's been on Prozac (albeit a low dose), but over the past six months it's as if he's gradually thawed out. It really is like a freezing cold, icy, snow-covered wilderness that has thawed out. The warmth has started to return and the flowers are in bloom. A bit like the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe when all the snow disappears.
Gradually as Ben recovers, it's as if new life is being breathed into him and he can laugh again. I hear him singing at the top of his voice in the shower or in the kitchen and I know all is well with the world. OK, he isn't fully recovered; he has a long way to go and DOES get down in the dumps every so often, sometimes very much so. But it's not like before when he was totally empty of any joy or fun, like an empty shell.
And these days he can go out with his friends without his mind being 100% on food. He still finds it hard to eat with his friends, but these days he manages it. Like last Saturday when he was at E's house and tucked into a huge pizza. No longer does he return miserably saying things like: "All I thought about was food..." or feeling guilty because he ate something he "shouldn't" have eaten.
I'd say to him: "When you're old and grey and look back on your life, what will be the most valuable memory? The fact you sacrificed a day's fun with your friends to worry about how much exercise you should do to work off the pizza you'd shared - or the fact that you had a fun day with friends, watching movies, playing games and having a laugh - and you all shared a pizza together which was great fun?"