One week into the academic year and, to be honest, things seem identical to a year ago when everything went pear-shaped on the return to school. Yesterday he was as gloomy as hell; today his mood has reached rock bottom and he won't talk about it. Already he's making excuses to get out of all the activities he planned to get involved in this term. And, predictably, he is isolating himself...
He has tomorrow afternoon off. So if the weather is fine, and even if it's not, I'll suggest we go for a walk and I'll attempt to get him to talk about it. Frankly, if school is getting him down so much, then he's better off out of it while we focus on recovery full-time. But I'd need to know now so I can negotiate with school for some money back (if they will give me any...)
Also, it would be vital that Ben keeps occupied if he's out of school and the best option, I think, would be to continue with his A levels via distance learning. But, again, I'd need a swift decision to avoid a missed year and avoid the risk of Ben having nothing to do for an entire academic year which would send us all stir crazy. At the moment there aren't any jobs and, even if there were, I don't really feel he'd be able to hold one down right now. And, anyway, he's extremely academic and needs to use his brain.
Meanwhile he's gone off to a meeting at church. He was going to chicken out of that, too, but changed his mind at the last moment... However anyone would think he was going to a funeral when I dropped him off at the church... Gloom, gloom, gloom.
And when he's in this frame of mind, his eating suffers... It's as if the anorexia instantly recognises the 'Achilles heel' and zooms in to play the toxic friend who pretends to provide a solace.
Ben scarcely saw his friends over the summer because they were "always busy" or "no-one is around". Now, at school, he claims his friends are always "on duty" (as prefects) so there's no-one to go around with. Or "everyone has gone home" or "they're all in lessons".
This is one of the things we haven't conquered yet; the social destruction that often comes part and parcel of anorexia. After improving for a while back in the spring / early summer everything started to go downhill again following the summer exams.
And it makes me so, so sad to look back to the pre-eating disorder days when Ben was Top Dog in his circle of friends. Everyone wanted to be Ben's friend and so many boys came to his birthday parties we used to have to hold them on TWO DAYS to accommodate everybody!
Yet here we have a self-isolating, lonely and depressed boy who should be going from strength to strength in every way.
This is something Ben will need significant treatment for; it's not something I can solve.
Meanwhile I'll let you know what happens when or if we talk tomorrow...