Tuesday 5 July 2011

Trying to pick up where you left off before you took off for Planet ED...

We had a 'heated discussion' last night, shall we say, about the problems Ben is having trying to pick up where he left off with his friends and peers, before the eating disorder arrived on the scene 2 years ago.

Before the anorexia isolated Ben from his friends, he was one of the most popular boys in his friendship circle and liked by everyone. OK he was naturally quiet and reserved, and his friendship circle might be described by his more boisterous peers that preferred to live dangerously as a bit 'bookish' or whatever, but - as parents - we couldn't have been more delighted with Ben's choice of friends.

In fact he was so popular that Ben's birthday parties were famous for running over 2 whole days. The first day half his friends came round for a sleepover. Then everyone met up to watch a movie and have a meal on the Saturday afternoon. Then the other half of the friendship group came back here for a second sleepover. And of course each sleepover was followed by an ENORMOUS breakfast. After all, we're talking about growing teenage boys...

After a rocky start on the social scene at primary school where Ben was bullied, things had been going from strength at his lovely high / senior school. Then - zap pow - in came the eating disorder and put a halt to everything and Ben was jet-propelled to the isolation of Planet ED for nearly 2 years.

During that time his friends matured and changed, as teenagers do. Some friends left the group; others joined. And numerous girls were added to the circle (previously, during the younger teenage years, girls had been like alien species).

Right now Ben is finding it very hard to get back into this friendship group. He feels sidelined and ignored. He feels 'tolerated' and left in the background. He's not invited to social events like parties or nights out. His former best friends have now 'paired off' with girls, which makes it particularly difficult to pin them down.

He's concerned his peers still view him as a bit weird because they saw what anorexia could do to its victim's behaviours and moods at its height. Doubtless they found this disturbing, frightening even. And for ages he's felt as if they regard him with sympathy rather than genuine friendship.

And having been in school part-time over the past academic year hasn't helped matters.

Back in November CAMHS went into school to talk to a hand-picked group of Ben's peers during a period when he was finding it particularly difficult to get back into things. It was reasonably successful and seemed to kick-start a not-too-bad trickle of social invitations, and for the first time since anorexia arrived Ben felt included in conversations in the classroom and common room.

But all this seems to have ground to a halt and Ben feels incredibly lonely. And he can't understand why it's so hard to pick up where he left off 2 years ago when he was liked and respected by everyone.

Of course it breaks my heart. I threw loads of practical suggestions into the pot last night, all of which were met with a negative response. So I have no idea what to do next, really.

Meanwhile, as I said in my last entry, the summer holidays / vacation starts on Friday and with it - potentially - 8 or so weeks of social isolation...

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