Tuesday 13 December 2011

Five resits in January...

Last summer the tail end of the eating disorder helped Ben to flunk his AS level exams. As a result he has no less than FIVE resits in January. And he needs to get good grades in order to get the grades he needs in this summer's all-important A level exams. So, basically, if he doesn't do very well then he can kiss goodbye to his university choices. No pressure, then...

The Good News is that the 10 months or so of insomnia seems to be at an end. Ben sleeps relatively well these days. And the insomnia was particularly bad during the AS exam weeks last summer and almost certainly responsible for the results. Doing public exams when you've had zero sleep, night upon night upon night, is no joke...

Ben still wants to go away to university, so we're not applying for that scheme I mentioned last time. No point. But we will be sending in some evidence to the Admissions Team supporting his 'mitigating circumstances' i.e. a letter from the CAMHS team and another from school staff.

Two years ago Ben was already absent from school more times than he was present. And when he was present he was unable to function. He'd be hiding somewhere, throwing a wobbly or going to pieces in the medical centre. And of course he had virtually zero nutrition fueling his body and mind.

After a very rocky start back at school in January 2010, I decided to remove him 'for the duration'. He simply couldn't be in school.

Over the next couple of terms he studied for, and sat, his GCSE exams separate from everyone else. Studying was done at home, work was emailed home by staff or I'd arrange to pick it up from school. Exams were sat in a private room, away from the other students.

During this time he was falling down the rabbit hole at a rate of knots leading to the height of the anorexia during the summer of 2010.

And you will know very well that it's not simply a case of not being in school and everything is OK... Far from it. It was as if the devil himself had taken over my wonderful son, driving him to self-destruction.

But I don't need to go into detail about this here.

He attempted to return to school in the September, now in the Lower Sixth Form. This was when the insomnia kicked in big style and, again, he was away from school more times than he was present.

In October 2010 he turned a corner and things improved in that he was able to go to school most mornings. Not all mornings, but most.

In spring 2011 I introduced our Recovery Contract which awarded him points for (a) managing a part-morning at school, (b) a full morning and (c) a full day. Full days didn't happen at that point. But by the start of the Upper Sixth Form in September, he was managing to go all mornings - and often all day on Fridays, too.

This is still the situation and I don't see it changing really.

As a result he has missed a massive amount of schooling over the last two-and-a-bit years.

But Ben being Ben has stayed motivated academically - or as much as he has been able.

Let's hope he gets through those critical resits in January and gets the grades he needs for Uni in the summer.

Failing this that the university will be sympathetic to his circumstances and allow a slipped grade or two.

Or not.


  1. This is rather too close for comfort. I had to drop out of school in February of my A-level year due to anorexia. I was going through hell and couldn't cope with school in any way, health deteriorating rapidly and emotions a complete mess. I was at boarding school too and needed my family desperately. BUT, if it's any consolation and a little bit of hope for you and Ben, I did manage to work on my own at home, get my As and my university place at Oxford. (in the meantime I did end up an inpatient but that's another matter..) I think uni was a glimmer in the distance and all I had left. I thought if I didn't have that then what did I have? It sounds like Ben is in a much better place now and hopefully can see how important this is for him without putting too much pressure on himself which certainly won't help. All the best to you and Ben.

  2. Hi Emma, I am so pleased you got your university place and thanks so much for your really nice comment. xx