Thursday 6 October 2011

Why I'm not putting all this behind me... yet.

While some parents may wish to put the whole eating disorder experience behind them and move on, for me it's always been different. Since late 2009 I've been making notes, writing forum entries and lately this blog, all with a view to putting this information to some kind of practical use in the future.

It was the school nurse who first suggested I write a book to (hopefully) inspire other parents who have realised their son is suffering from an eating disorder; to show them that there is a light at the end of the tunnel and also how we, as a family, dealt with all the various aspects of our son's anorexia.

Over the past couple of weeks I've been busy collating all this information into date order in a kind of narrative which will act as the basis for a book. With over 100 pages of A4 notes, it's kind of scary and difficult to know where to start. Also the hardest part is what I call the 'fuzzy period': Sept - Nov 2009 when Ben was rapidly disappearing 'down the rabbit hole' (as Harriet Brown aptly puts it in Brave Girl Eating) when I was coming to terms which what was happening and when Ben was going through distressing and dramatic changes on every front: weight, mood, behaviour and social interaction. Although I did make some notes (mainly emails and lists) the mind has a funny habit of blanking out distressing periods like this. Although Ben's behaviour was hideous and terrifying, I find it very hard to remember it in detail.

Some might say this is a Good Thing: evidence that it's time to move on and put all this behind me. But if I'm going to write a book, I need to come to terms with that 'fuzzy period', recall what took place and try to understand it all.

It's not just because of the book. I, personally, need to get my head around it in order to be able to move on. But, for me, moving on won't be moving away from eating disorders completely. It's a bit like my friend, Sarah, who has cancer and who will always be actively involved in working with other women with breast cancer. As a sufferer she has invaluable personal experience that clinicians and professionals can never have. Likewise I, as the parent of a teenage boy with anorexia, have invaluable personal experience that I can bring to the table.

Okay I am not a clinician and the purpose of my book won't be to educate people about the science behind eating disorders. It won't be jam-packed with facts and figures or detailed information on different treatment methods and research; there are plenty of excellent books that already do that job.

My book will simply tell it as it was, describing how things unfolded and how we fought tooth and nail to halt our son's decline into serious anorexia - and how he eventually came through it.

Meanwhile I'm still trying to piece together that 'fuzzy period'. I think my emotions (which were on an extreme roller coaster at the time) are the most difficult thing to recall, to be honest.

Strange that.


  1. I am truly looking forward to your book, because I think stories of families and boys with eating disorders are so few and far between it is really easy to feel alone out there. I know your book will help many :)

  2. Do you think your son in years to come will want to her such personal issues out for the world to see?

  3. "Yes" is the answer to that, Anon. He is now virtually an adult and I have his full support.

    Dearest Anon, I am curious to know what it is that keeps bringing you back to my blog when it obviously makes you see red?

  4. It's interesting to me that you, as the parent/carer for a person with anorexia, say you have a 'fuzzy period' relating to the disease. I find that I barely remember anything from my first refeeding period, which pretty much covers my entire final year of school (including university applications!). The whole period is just a dark blur of misery - but my mum, who spent much of that year shuttling me to appointments and keeping me on the meal plans my nutritionist came up with, finds this really frustrating. She thinks I should remember what happened in that time; there are no fuzzies for her and she gets really frustrated with me for not remembering certain things my therapist/nutritionist/useless adolescent medice specialist said to me. I wonder if maybe this 'amnesia' is to protect from the pain? As I said, it's interesting...

    Different anon, by the way!

  5. Hi different anon,

    My son remembers virtually everything, curiously enough, but then that's what he's always been like. He can remember all sorts of things - a kind of photographic memory.