Saturday 21 May 2011

No, it's NOT OK for Ben to reach a weight he "feels happy with" and stick there...

Thank you, Giant Fossilized Armadillo, for your comment on my last entry. (GFA has been part of our network of mums and recovered eating disorder patients that have been tremendous help over the past year or so.) And the first thing that came to mind when I read her comment on the cognitive healing which comes with being Weight Restored at a proper, healthy weight was this...

For some time now, our psych's assistant has been throwing spanners into the works in a way that makes me want to scream in frustration. Several times she's implied that it's OK for Ben to reach a "weight he feels happy with" and stick there rather than push further forwards and out of his current comfort zone. It's as if Ben gets to choose when he feels happy with a particular weight and, even if this weight isn't his natural Weight Restored weight, he can stick there if he'd rather not go any higher.

To me (and my network of mums, etc) this is like giving him permission to remain ill.

GFA says: "My perspective on the situation didn't come back until I had been maintaining a healthy weight for about six months. Now I can see where all the holes in my thinking were. The annoying thing is that I know if I were to relapse I would lose that perspective again, it's entirely dependent on keeping my weight and intake up. Brains are strange things :/ "

Basically I am not alone in believing that full brain healing only comes with full and proper weight restoration. Anything below this is just asking for relapse. And, of course, it takes work to maintain your weight at an artificially low level when your body is screaming out to level out at something a tad higher (or even a great deal higher). So Ben would forever be counting calories and scales-obsessed, never allowing himself to comfortably eat with friends or anything like that - all the usual things that a normal teenage boy would do without batting an eyelid, let alone reaching for the kitchen scales and calorie chart...

Sorry, CAMHS, but I'm not going to allow you to let Ben choose his final weight.


  1. I'm going to be controversial (although I suspect you'll agree) and say that I believe this sort of attitude from professionals is what keeps many patients sick for years. I always assumed that by keeping myself at the lowest acceptable weight I was doing myself a favour - not pushing myself too hard and making myself too anxious. I thought I would be MORE likely to relapse if I aimed for a truly healthy weight for me. I was horribly wrong: what actually happened was that I got caught in that twilight zone in which I was not healthy enough to gain psychological benefits of recovery, but not sick enough for the anorexia to be numbing my anxiety. So I wasn't in life threatening danger, but I was also absolutely tormented by my eating disorder, and it was only a matter of time before I relapsed. When I started recovery again in 2009 I decided that I was going to push myself to a gender/age/family background appropriate weight, and lo and behold, I am fine with my weight now. I maintain it easily (my body wants to be here), I don't get urges to binge or restrict, I am not scared of food, I don't freak out if I gain a couple of pounds through water retention or whatever (I still weigh myself once every couple of months to check), and I quite like my body.

    Yes, I will be spamming your blog from now on to back you up ;) I honestly believe that one day your son will really thank you for this. Getting to a properly healthy weight might be the difference between living with an eating disorder for decades (twelve years for me) and recovering in time to have a perfectly healthy and happy late adolescence.

  2. I do totally agree with you, GFA, and I really appreciate your reply.

    Please keep your comments coming!