As I thought, it's school that's the problem. And, also as I thought, it's the social side of things that's causing the most angst. The main problem is that Ben feels he's being ignored and sidelined. Or if people DO talk to him, then it's only because they "feel sorry" for him. One thing that really got him down the other day was everyone whispering about a party at someone's house this weekend. When Ben asked about it the reply came back "Oh it's way too complicated to explain..." And let's face it, no-one wants to be in a situation where you have to ASK to be invited...
Getting back into the social side of things is so hard when you've been 'AWOL' for some time - in Ben's case 26 months or so. Everyone else has been getting on with their life like any other teenager - having boy and girlfriends, going to parties and clubs, hanging out around town, sleeping over at each others' houses, etc - while Ben has stayed at home dominated by the anorexia.
Not only this, but over the past couple of years his behaviour in school has been very strange to say the least. Not recently, but disturbing enough in the past to no doubt make some of his peers keep their distance. Unless you 'get it' about eating disorders, I guess this can be frightening and alienating. Sure, the CAMHS team went into school last November to talk to his close friends about Ben and his eating disorder and things improved for a while. But now it's as if they've forgotten this ever took place.
When you're well on the road to recovery from anorexia, it's so difficult to pick up where you left off. What makes it most upsetting is that, before the eating disorder took over, Ben was Top Dog in his social group. Now he feels as if, to them, he doesn't even exist.
He says he's got quite a few acquaintances but no "real friends like I used to have before the anorexia", and it breaks my heart.
I feel like getting hold of his friends and shaking them, asking them why they don't make the move and include him in things as it's SO IMPORTANT now he's heading towards recovery and wants to be involved again.
But when you're nearly 18 the last thing you want is the embarrassment of your mother talking to your friends.
Incidentally, I follow the excellent blog ED-bites written by a recovered anorexic and, spookily, many of her recent posts have touched on this subject which seems to be common to most people with or who have recovered from eating disorders. Here's one particular post that struck a chord with me.
But the Good News is that Ben hasn't cut down on his calories. Yes the urge to cut down is there and is no doubt triggered by the social anxiety, but he's said a big emphatic "NO" to it and carried on eating.