Monday 8 August 2011

OK, so what is the purpose of this blog?

Some of my contacts have written books on the subject; others write blogs or get into the media. But the ONLY reason that any of us 'goes public' about our experiences as parents of teenagers with eating disorders is to do our small bit to help others facing a similar situation. We are neither seeking to exploit our children's eating disorders  nor trying to draw attention to ourselves. We are just acutely aware of how precious little information and help there was for us when we started our own nightmarish journeys into the world of anorexia. Even if we help just one desperate parent to find hope then we've done our job.

In the summer of 2009 it gradually became clear that something was seriously wrong with my son. Eating disorders were the last thing on my mind; after all, Ben is a boy and, as far as I knew, boys didn't get eating disorders.

However as Ben's weight hurtled south at a rate of knots, I realised that Ben could be developing anorexia.

I was desperate for help and support but there was nothing out there - especially on the problem of boys and eating disorders.

I felt terrified and isolated. I didn't know where to turn, what to do or what I should know. And yet the information I did find suggested that this could be a deadly condition; that people could and indeed do die from it. Yet, unlike cancer or another life-threatening illness, we weren't being fast-tracked into treatment or given advice. Indeed our GP was reluctant to refer Ben for treatment, and even when he did we were faced with a waiting list that could last for months...

And meanwhile Ben was rapidly disappearing in front of my eyes.

I can't even begin to describe how hellish these first months were with practically zero support, information or advice. I was in a state of total panic.

Then, through trial and error, I stumbled across the wonderful Around The Dinner Table Forum and its 'parent' website F.E.A.S.T which offer support and advice to parents and carers of teenagers and children with eating disorders.

Through these two channels I received (and still do) enormous support. Most important of all, for the first time in months I was 'meeting' other parents of teenagers with eating disorders, some of them mothers of boys with anorexia. Thus began a lengthy learning curve as I was 'initiated' into the hellish world of eating disorders and how they are successfully treated.

The point is: I know how terrifying it is to discover your child has a potentially life-threatening condition and not knowing what to do or where to turn.

Right from the start I was acutely aware that I wanted to do my little bit to help parents just like me - not only to help direct them to useful websites like the Around the Dinner Table Forum and other information but to talk about my own experiences so they can see there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

I'm not a medical or mental health professional, but what I am is a genuine parent who not only cares about my son and his journey back to health but who also cares about other parents in my situation.

It is no different from a parent who writes a book on the topic and goes public.

It is no different from a parent who gets into the paper and goes public. (Like at least 3 of my brave friends and their children have done recently.)

It is no different from a parent who gets onto the TV and goes public. (Like other contacts have done recently.)

All these experiences are out there in the 'public domain', and the very last thing that any of us is doing is 'exploiting' our children or using their illness to draw attention to ourselves.

Imagine if all of us had simply sat back and done nothing? Even if we help just one parent fast-track their way through the massive ED learning curve and get some kind of useful help, we have done our job.

And each of us has the full support of our children in what we are doing.

In fact it was Ben who suggested I start this blog in the first place.

1 comment:

  1. Never doubted your motives Batty :) I think this blog is a great resource for other parents of boys with eating disorders - the media is gradually cottoning on to the fact that it is not and never has been just a female problem, but in the lag time between now and society understanding the issue, blogs like yours provide a valuable service for others in similar situations.