Monday 31 December 2012

Your essential ED-beating toolkit for 2013

If you've never visited The New Maudsley Approach website and read through it in detail then I strongly suggest you do, in preparation for whatever it is you need to do to help your child recover from their eating disorder in 2013. It is packed full of tools and techniques for carers to use - evidence-based stuff that's aimed at helping you to get the best response from your child at a time when it can seem as if all they're doing is resisting logic and action.

Firing on all cylinders ready for the New Year

It's the final day of 2012 - and the end of my blog posts for this year. Tomorrow we begin our "fats experiment" whereby we spend a couple of weeks closely analysing (and adjusting) fat and calorie content of Ben's intake, preceded by a weigh-in session. I will also be measuring his height. Then, each week in the New Year, I will be introducing new challenges / experiments / tests / whatever with a view to making 2013 the year that Ben really does recover fully and permanently.

Sunday 30 December 2012

Comparing notes with my Mother-in-law

Back in September 2009 it was my Mother-in-law who suggested I take Ben to see our GP. She lives abroad and doesn't see us that often, so when she saw Ben following the summer of Drastic Weight Loss in 2009 she immediately noticed the difference. We, on the other hand, had been with him every day. As a result the dramatic weight loss wasn't as evident.

Friday 28 December 2012

Why the "prequel" to my new book "Please eat..."?

Over the past 24 months I've had countless emails from parents of teenage boys (and girls) with eating disorders who have said that my blog has helped them in their own fight against anorexia, bulimia or EDNOS. It's one of the reasons why I made PDFs of my 2011 and 2012 posts. However as I was reading through the proof of my new book "Please eat..." I was suddenly inspired to publish my blog as well, in two parts initially, first 2011 and (later) 2012.

"Why are you obsessed with his weight ? It's only 2kg", comments Anon. Here's why...

Don't get me wrong... I welcome all kinds of comments on my blog. Often, like the comment I received the other day, it inspires me to write about why I do the things I do and worry about the things I worry about. So when Anon posted "Why are you obsessed with his weight ? It's only 2kg" [about Ben's 2kg weight loss over Christmas] I couldn't resist responding here...

Thursday 27 December 2012

Why do they insist on doing it?

Yet again I'm hearing of a family where the treatment team is insisting on what the parents believe to be a sub-optimum weight for their daughter as far as full Weight Restoration is concerned. I can't count the number of similar complaints I've heard from families, ours included. So why do eating disorder treatment teams insist on doing it?

Wednesday 26 December 2012

Seeing as it's Christmas, let's be angry with the church again...

Yesterday my travels took me past "that church" several times - the church Ben and I attended for a year or so. My attendance was sporadic, but Ben attended religiously, walking the 30 minute walk there and back every Sunday morning over an 18 month period. As you know from previous blog entries he went out of his way to try and fit in, and to get spiritual help - and the church failed him. Read more about it here.

2kg down, but wheels already in motion to put it back on again

I would hazard a guess that there are very few of our children with eating disorders that actually gained weight over Christmas, despite their worries, year upon year, that they will get fat... I might be wrong, but it always seems to be the case in our house. Yesterday was our fourth Christmas Day with ED. Can you believe that? But the good news is that...

Saturday 22 December 2012

What about Batty, though? What's going on?

Another reason I've found it so hard to complete my book in the way I would like is because, for the past couple of months, I've feel really weird. I've felt kind of numb, almost as if I'm observing life from a distance rather than being part of it. The build-up to Christmas has felt really strange, almost as if it isn't happening. It's felt like one massive effort to do anything and "get in the mood". Why do I think this is?

As this year draws to a close...

It's been a hell of a year in so many ways. Thankfully, despite slow progress and the odd blip (some more blip-ish than others!) if you met Ben right now you would think he is a normal boy looking forward to his 19th birthday tomorrow (movie and a meal) and to Christmas with his family. This week he hasn't appeared anxious; indeed he's been relatively chilled. This is fantastic news, especially after last weekend. But what about this year, hey?

Friday 21 December 2012

Everything is going OK...

Following last weekend's outburst, everything seems to be going OK - almost as if Ben had "let of steam"... which is what he claims it was. As I write, he is singing at the top of his voice, about to walk up to the local charity shop where he works on Friday mornings. Our diet has improved this week in that we've had more fats, especially Omega fats which are good for the mood. Plus, Ben has agreed the GP can refer him for further NHS treatment.

Thursday 20 December 2012

I am privileged to have known this woman

Last night the huge school theatre was packed with well-wishers for the school nurse's leaving presentation. What quickly became clear is that there were scores of other families who she'd helped - way over and above the call of duty. And the funny thing was, I suspect each family felt that they were the most important family to her. Unlike many other clinicians, Sheila didn't always keep a "professional distance" when genuine love, humanity and compassion were needed. She is loved by hundreds, probably thousands of people.

Wednesday 19 December 2012


Over lunch we've just had another chat about things, using our Contract as a base for the discussion. I have outlined, again, what I plan to do in 2013 - and why. And also why he can trust me to not "go mad", "deceive" him and why I will - as I said to him - "do what's needed to get you where you need to be. You need to trust me on that. And you know why you need to get there."

Waving goodbye tonight

If you've read through my blog you'll know that one of the most supportive people on our journey through anorexia was the school nurse (who I've called Sheila in my new book). It was Sheila who first told me about what treatment was available for eating disorders and, basically, held my hand while I was going through some pretty nightmarish experiences as Ben slid into anorexia during the late autumn of 2009.

So far, so good...

This is what makes it so different, these days, to the days of High Anorexia when Ben's mind jetted off to Planet Irrational... Thankfully, in general, Ben is happy about my Big Plans for New Year.

Tuesday 18 December 2012

And here is my New Year Resolution!

Adjustments to our Recovery Contract in the lead up to university and LIFE...

Tricky challenge for the New Year...

The wonderful private dietician we've been seeing has sent me a print-out all about fats - and why they are ESSENTIAL for health and won't make you fat. It is incredibly illuminating reading - the proverbial "light bulb moment". Well, it is for me. Whether or not it will be for Ben is another matter because, as we all know only too well, Ben and other fats-avoiding eating disorder sufferers know better than the science.

Monday 17 December 2012

A thumping good use for a spare £100!

As you know, Saturday's psych session cost me £100 and any subsequent sessions with her would have cost me £100. So, as Ben refuses point blank to have any more sessions with her or with anyone else (and no I don't have a spare £100 to fritter away on whatever I wish, I am not dripping in money by any stretch of the imagination)... I had a lightbulb moment earlier this morning...

Sunday 16 December 2012

Three young people failed by the NHS

Saturday morning is obviously Eating Disorder and other mental health issues morning at the private therapy clinic we went to yesterday. On duty are the two dieticians - the one we saw last week (the one on the telly) and the one we used to see at CAMHS before her funding was withdrawn. (Back then, she didn't do private work.)

£70 on "medicine" down at Tesco's

"Food is medicine", as we all know. So I've just returned from Tesco's armed with salmon in various guises, other oily fish, chocolates, custard (to make ice cream), turkey steaks and a stack of other stuff. I've been there alone so I don't have the "We don't need that... it's too expensive" voice in my ear. And, thus far, he seems totally relaxed at what I'm doing.

Where shall I start?

I'm not sure how to write this. I have enough material for 100 blog posts after yesterday and, frankly, today my emotions, energy and mind are in shreds. Lowest and highest points yesterday?

Saturday 15 December 2012

Ding dong (not) merrily on high

So there I was, writing about all the positives that are coming out of this experience at the moment when off went the alarm bells inside my head...

Friday 14 December 2012

Can I complete my book? I'm not sure if I can...

For a week or so the old instincts have been nudging me, homing in on the fact that All Is Not Well with Ben. Thankfully, we're seeing the new psych tomorrow and I have every hope that she will be exactly the right person for Ben. So, completing my book, talking about "recovery" feels, well, a bit hypocritical at the moment. It didn't a few weeks ago, but it does now, I am sorry to say.

Thursday 13 December 2012

Just how did they plan to do that?

Looking back through old blog entries I came across one where I talk about how CAMHS always promised that, once Ben was discharged from treatment for his anorexia, CAMHS would monitor him for at least 12 months to check that everything was continuing to go in the right direction. Sorry, but have I missed something?

Wednesday 12 December 2012

Why do I feel strangely naked today?

Why? Because the wonderful Becky Henry CPCC, author of "Just tell her to stop...", coach and public speaker on eating disorders has offered to give the final draft of my book the "once over" and write a review (hopefully a good one!). And, boy, do I feel strangely naked!

Monday 10 December 2012

And here's another, longer interview

Here's a link to another, longer interview about why I've written my book.

Why I have written my new book

Here's an interview with me about why I have written my new book...

Waiting for 2 proofs of my new book

Okay, so this weekend I thought, "Sod it, time to press the 'submit' button and get a proof of my new book to check over". Otherwise I will be here for MONTHS micro-proof-reading the manuscript and making minuscule changes, yet at the same time overlooking obvious errors. I think this is part of "the genes" - the bit of my brain that's very similar to Ben's and definitely similar to my Dad's.

Sunday 9 December 2012

Pillar to post...

Yes, the session with the dietician went well, but she's not sure how helpful she can be to Ben at this stage. Perhaps, she suggested, it mightn't be a bad thing for Ben to see a psychologist colleague of hers to see if there are any other underlying issues that need addressing, in a different way - say - through the use of DBT (dialectical behaviour therapy).

Friday 7 December 2012

Hmn... dietician bound tomorrow...

Tomorrow morning we're seeing the private dietician with a view to sorting out the remnants of Ben's eating disorder. I also wonder whether we need to go back and see the private psychologist for a few sessions. Ben is still avoiding social situations. Tonight he announced he's not going to Phab. "Look, just not tonight!" he barked at me a few moments ago. He still hasn't got his zest for life back and seems down in the dumps much of the time. To be honest he is blooming miserable.

Thursday 6 December 2012

Oh, phewee, red tape...

The cover of my new book "Please eat..." (about our teenage son's battle with anorexia) is finished, and I'm busy doing the final proof read before sending off for a printed "author's copy" to check that everything is OK. I also have my own ISBN number (for the bar code on the back cover). I am publishing it through my freelance copywriting business: Creative Copy, so that's all sorted too. I also have a pretty good idea of how to do Kindle and e-reader versions of my book. So now all I have to do is battle my way through some pretty time-consuming red tape...

Wednesday 5 December 2012

It could be classed as discrimination, but...

Ben is adamant that he doesn't want to return to the deli / cafe to work. He says he couldn't work for someone that is obviously so unsympathetic about his condition. Mind you, I said, she doesn't know the full story. I suggested that maybe she should know, but...

Tuesday 4 December 2012

Ben is no longer working in the deli / cafe...

Okay, so what happened? Ben was asked to work Saturdays but told the owner he couldn't because he has a medical appointment on Saturday mornings. But he didn't feel he could tell her what the appointment was for (he's seeing the private dietician for a few sessions). I don't think the owner believed him because she insisted on knowing what the appointment was for. But he didn't want to tell her. He arrived home quite upset, declaring that he never wanted to work there ever again...

Saturday 1 December 2012

Tired, but bursting with "endolphins"

One thing that made us all giggle at last weekend's FEAST conference was when we were talking about the good endorphins that people get from doing exercise. Except that one mum got her tongue twisted and came out with "endolphins" instead which made everyone laugh - because we'd been talking about the the different animal personae that carers adopt - Janet Treasure's "dolphin" being the ideal one i.e. you guide and encourage your child slowly and discreetly through the rough seas towards recovery.

Friday 30 November 2012

And the Super Challenge of the Day is...

... For Ben to successfully manage working in the local deli / cafe over the Friday lunchtime shift today, to still get the right number of calories into him today and to go to Phab this evening. Why do all three things add up to Super Challenge of the Day at this stage in Ben's recovery from anorexia? Here's why...

Thursday 29 November 2012

Is this the most irresponsible book title in ages?

Sorry, but I'm not going to name it because I don't want to give the author any more publicity than he's already had - or to makes the title searchable by search engines and therefore possibly acting as a trigger for people disposed towards an eating disorder (which is why I haven't typed in complete words below)... but... I believe this is the most irresponsible book title I have seen in a long while. And the concept of the d*et plan inside isn't brilliant, either.

Coming very soon, in January... my new book!

At last I'm going through the final draft of the book that's taken MONTHS to write! It's based on this blog, and my experience of helping my son recover from anorexia, and I hope to have it published in January (see black & white image of it on the left). Me, being me, I'm micro-proof-reading it, which is why it's taking so long. But I expect there will still be some mistakes or typos - they always say a book isn't a book without at least one mistake that's been overlooked!

Sunday 25 November 2012

How shall I begin to describe the FEAST(UK) conference?

I've just returned from two amazing days surrounded by caring parents, professionals and the Great and the Good (and the Positively Awesome) of the UK Eating Disorders world. I can't even begin to describe what we learned and discussed, it would take far, far too long and you can see a series of free-to-view videos of the event here (see all the various videos from the weekend on the right of the page - ignore the ads, that's why it's free, and we had no control over them). Here are some bullet points of what shone out of this conference for me - not just via the talks, presentations and workshops, and the panel questions-and-answer sessions that followed, but by me going around and talking to other parents about their individual stories:

Thursday 15 November 2012

Looking for something to do next weekend, UK people?

As you may know I'm helping to organise a two-day FEAST UK conference in Nottingham next weekend - Friday 23rd and Saturday 24th November. It's going to be a fabulous event with the Great and the Good of the UK eating disorders world speaking - including Professor Janet Treasure - along with workshops, etc - and the venue is an amazing Victorian gothic hotel! But we urgently need more bums / butts on seats. Read on...

Thursday 8 November 2012

I'm keeping quiet and quietly observing...

Remember I said Ben was finding it hard to come to terms with weight increase? I haven't said anything to him since we last spoke about it... and he "effed" and "blinded" about it... I'm just observing. Ever since he weighed himself and discovered that his weight had maintained for three weeks rather than increasing further, his mood has been much, much better. In fact his mood has been pretty darn good, really.

Tuesday 6 November 2012

Church meeting went well

I wasn't asking for anything. I wasn't expecting anything. I just explained that I felt I owed it to the pastor to explain why we suddenly disappeared from the church and why we haven't been back since. And he seemed to appreciate my honesty.

Monday 5 November 2012

Am I still angry with the church?

Am I still angry with the church about the way they failed to embrace Ben when he was crying out for friendship and support last year? Do I still feel the bitterness I felt in March when I wrote this blog entry explaining why I felt the church had let him down?

Friday 2 November 2012

Excellent suggestions from the other ED mums

I knew I could depend on 'my mums' on the Around The Diner Table Forum to rally round with advice. It's months since I posted anything - I haven't needed to - but it's the good old mums who 'know me' who responded, the mums who were immensely helpful when I first joined.So, coupled with my own gut instinct, this is what I plan to do...

Thursday 1 November 2012

What "they" don't tell you about Weight Restoration. Or maybe I missed it?

Getting your child through an eating disorder is damn tough, we all know that. But what happens when they reach their set weight / Weight Restored? What no-one told me is how they come to terms with something that is very difficult for them to come to terms with. Their weight is okay, but obviously it's been going up for some time. What if it continues to go up? What if it never stops?

Wednesday 31 October 2012

In two minds, need to have a chat with Ben...

Okay so Dr J "got it" very quickly the other day but I've been mulling things over and keep going back to the time when, near the end of Ben's CAMHS treatment, when I felt as if the therapists were simply opening can after can of worms rather than actually helping to move things forward.

Monday 29 October 2012

Dr J gets to the heart of the matter

So far I like everything about Dr Joanne (except the fact she is so expensive!). Her background is CAMHS - not from our city but from a neighbouring town. I only wish we'd had her as Ben's therapist from Day One. Within 20 minutes or so of our (second) session with her today she'd got right to the heart of the matter i.e. the key problems that still remain from the eating disorder.

Sunday 28 October 2012

Why do I attend Ben's new psych sessions?

Once we'd arranged to see Dr Joanne, the new psych, I asked Ben if he'd like me to sit in on sessions "as an observer and occasional contributor" or if he'd like to see her alone. Frankly I didn't mind which. Since Ben turned a corner in October 2010 we'd always seen CAMHS together because, as Ben said, we were working on this "as a team". And Family Based Treatment has been proven to be more effective than individual therapy. But, at this stage and at his age, I recognise that he needs to become more independent - indeed it's essential that he does.

Saturday 27 October 2012

Phab is a success

Last night Ben went to his first Phab meeting (the disabled / physically handicapped club where he's helping out as a volunteer) and had a really great time - which is excellent news when our #1 priority over the current 12 months is to get him out there into the community and help him re-learn all those social skills he used to have before the anorexia hit.

Monday 22 October 2012

Moving forwards still...

Last night I looked at Ben and, for the first time for years, I felt I was looking at the 'old Ben'. And, thankfully, he seems to have come to terms with the slight weight gain and appears to be continuing to eat as normal. He didn't get the Games Workshop paid job, but he's agreed to volunteer as a helper at the Phab club on a Friday night.

Thursday 18 October 2012

If it worked for me, it might work for him...

Back in 1975 when I was in the Lower Sixth Form at school my own mental health took a nose dive, although in those days it went undiagnosed. For two whole terms I hid from the world, unable to interact with my peers. I was rock bottom depressed, suicidal at times, and used to self-harm (not a lot, but a bit).

Wednesday 17 October 2012

This is what I used to think in the olden days...

I used to think: Maybe we should watch more news reports about children starving in Africa? Children who would do anything to be able to get food? Or get him involved in Good Deeds like working with the disabled or underprivileged? Maybe that'll make him realise that some people have more to worry about in life than whether or not they might have put on a nano-kilogram and - pow! - their life suddenly isn't worth living.

Damn those scales!

It's a month since he was last weighed and he's continuing to very gradually put on weight. Now, to you and me, that's a Good Thing. It's a blooming BRILLIANT thing. But - surprise, surprise - it's not Good News to Ben.

Saturday 13 October 2012

Friday 12 October 2012

Clocking up more successes...

Good news - Ben did go to his Warhammer gaming club last night and enjoyed it. (And then came home for a plateful of M&S fish'n'chips with peas followed by 2 puddings.) Today he's talking to a local museum about volunteering. Then tomorrow evening he's going to see one of his friend's bands in the city centre. Meanwhile we've arranged to see a former CAMHS (eating disorder specialist) psychologist next week to tidy up all the loose ends.

Thursday 11 October 2012

Points are still winning prizes!

Ben says that the #1 thing that helped him the most over the last 18 months or so has been the Recovery Contract which we set up in March 2011. And, albeit much tweaked over the months, it's still going strong - at Ben's request. We don't do it as often... maybe once a week at the most... but it's still proving to be useful.

Woo hoo! It's what makes this all worthwhile...

It's fantastic when I get an email or message from a parent of a young person with an eating disorder, or the young person themselves, about how my blog and / or website have contributed in some way towards their recovery from anorexia or another ED. I'm not saying this to boast. Not in the slightest! It's just that this kind of message makes my day, especially when I'm not feeling very motivated or a bit down.

Tuesday 9 October 2012

Jobs, voluntary work and social activities...

Ben's doing really well with setting up activities for his impromptu gap year. This morning was the second Tuesday morning he helped out at school, doing a bit of teaching practice with the sixth form history and politics groups and loving every minute.

Tuesday 2 October 2012

Driving to a strangely familiar place...

Ben's been in touch with his school to see if they need any help over the coming year - and today he's gone in to lend a hand. So it was kind of strange driving back to the old place with Ben dressed in his sixth form suit, just like last year. Except it wasn't just like last year...

Sunday 23 September 2012

Independence and conflict

In less than a week since he left  university Ben has already independently set himself a stack of challenges and completed them. And, increasingly, I am saying: "You have to do this yourself; I can't do it for you" or "Sorry I can't do that; I am busy". Occasionally I will throw the odd suggestion into the pot... potential activities he isn't aware of, for example local debating or history groups - and then leave it to him to do the groundwork.

Saturday 22 September 2012

Excellent suggestions from the university Student Services team

Until we met with the two ladies from Student Services on Tuesday we'd never even thought about commuting as a potentially successful way to ease Ben into university life: commuting for the first term, or even the first year, while he finds his feet and establishes a friendship circle.

Friday 21 September 2012

With hindsight, what I would do if we were applying to uni again?

It's almost the time of year when this year's (British) Upper Sixth Formers head to open days at universities across the country, just like we did last year. So, knowing what I know now and taking into account that Ben was 'almost' (but not fully) recovered from anorexia at the time, what would I do differently?

What I know now that I didn't know this time last week

So what went wrong? So much, on so many counts. Which is why our brief flirtation with university life this week may be a useful learning curve for other parents wondering whether or not to send their post anorexia / eating disorder teenager off to university or wait another year, or even longer...

Thursday 20 September 2012

Onwards and upwards, Ben...

A dismal Ben greeted me this morning in the kitchen, saying he felt like a failure and "useless". So in came Mama Matty to instantly (hopefully) put him right on that count, reinforcing the fact that he's been so courageous to admit there was a problem right at the start, rather than letting things spiral downwards... There must be loads of new students who aren't being so courageous and really should make the decision to jump ship while it's still early days and resume when they're in a better place. Like the obviously ED girls we saw walking around the university yesterday... (whose parents must be worried senseless)...

Wednesday 19 September 2012

So here's what really happened...

Things got progressively worse and by Monday evening Ben was sobbing down the phone to me, in pieces. I'd spent the day organising various counselling and mentoring people to see him, but by the evening he was in a terrible state. So the next morning saw me meeting him over coffee in a cafe near the university...

Monday 17 September 2012

Efferty efferty efferty eff...

Within hours of dropping him off at uni I got the first message saying he didn't fit in with the other guys in his apartment and felt lonely... Then this lunchtime I got another message from him. I can always tell when something's up because his first message is always something like "Hi", and that's all.

Saturday 15 September 2012

Warning: get out the tissues before you read this post...

Yesterday evening after tea, Ben suddenly appeared in the living room armed with brightly wrapped gifts and cards. "These are to thank you for everything you've done for me over the past 18 years and especially over the past three years," he said as we stood with open mouths.

Wednesday 12 September 2012

Just 4 days to go till uni...

Things are going so normally here in the Matty household, it's difficult to get used to. A normal mum nagging a normal teenage son about normal things: "Promise me you won't walk home on your own late at night", "Don't forget to put your wallet in a safe place so it doesn't get stolen", "Remember to buy toilet roll and milk", "Don't put the whites in with the darks in the launderette", "Don't drink too much"... blah, blah, blah...

Wednesday 5 September 2012

Summer 2010 and afterwards

"The French holiday that July was a nightmare," I said to Ben yesterday morning. "Meltdown after meltdown after meltdown, right from the first moment we arrived. How did it feel for you?"

Tuesday 4 September 2012

What was he thinking of?

Literally! I've been picking Ben's brains to discover what was going on in his head when he had anorexia. Here is Part One of the result (based on the notes I made while he was talking and which will eventually be used for parts of my book)...

Monday 3 September 2012

Basking in the sunshine...

It's not too many weeks ago that I was still anxious about how Ben would cope with being away at university - eating, thinking and socially. But I'm astonished at how rapidly he has moved from the last little bit of the woods out into the brilliant sunshine. He is so normal. In every way. And I have every confidence that, if he continues like this, university will be the making - not breaking - of him.

Saturday 1 September 2012

Aren't our children amazing?

Okay, so although I had food issues as a teenager and 20-something, and okay I dabbled in a bit of bulimic behaviour on occasions, but - thankfully - I never developed a full-blown ED. Yes, I did have awful issues with men which I've described in recent posts, and yes writing about these made me feel vulnerable - like airing my dirty washing in public and opening a Pandora's box of stuff I've been trying to blank out all these years. But these "confessions" have also done something else... something really strange...

Thursday 30 August 2012

London in the early 1980s...

Back to my story. I think if I hadn't been "saved" by getting in with the new crowd at school, just before the upper sixth form in 1976, and by the PHAB group, any disordered eating might have got worse. I know I did have to work pretty hard at maintaining my new low weight over the next few years and I know that, especially at uni, I avoided certain social situations where food was involved. I always felt guilty when I ate too much and always hated myself when I put on a bit of weight. There was a problem in the last two years at uni, too.

Tuesday 28 August 2012

Batty is on a guilt trip...

I know that parents don't "cause" their child's eating disorder and we shouldn't feel guilty about it. But, as I am discovering at the moment as I write up those early stages when I was trekking with Ben to see our GP, I can't help but feel guilty.

Monday 27 August 2012

The grey period at the start of Ben's anorexia...

If you've seen my Tweets you'll see I'm having problems describing the "grey period" in my book: the months between when the penny eventually dropped that, yes, Ben was developing anorexia to early 2010 when I first discovered the ATDT forum (when, of course, all my thoughts are documented for me to refer to in the forum archive).

Becoming a "swan", but at some cost???

The therapist I saw in early 1976, aged 17, was under the impression that I was too self-focused and needed taking out of myself. Being with people less fortunate than (relatively affluent, middle-class) me might make me snap out of this introspection. So she suggested I join the local PHAB group.

Sunday 26 August 2012

Let's talk a bit about my own problems with food...

Someone posted a link to this article today which talks about the way eating disorders are believed to have a genetic link i.e. if you, the parent, have had an eating disorder then there's a far higher chance your child may be genetically predisposed to developing an eating disorder too. So let's talk about me this time...

Saturday 25 August 2012

I can't stop being excited about uni...

Anyone would think it was me going away to a jam packed full week of freshers' events at uni in a couple of weeks' time. I wish it was. Beach parties, film shows, tea parties, chocolate tasting, wine tasting, scuba diving, Buddhist meditation, mask making, quizzes, radio DJ-ing, ghost tours, treasure hunts... I want to do it all! And, thankfully, so does a socially-starved Ben. Blimey if he doesn't make some great friends within that first week I'll eat my hat!

Monday 20 August 2012

Forgive me father for I have sinned...

Today is the second session of reading aloud some of the chapters in my draft book so Ben can correct me on anything I've got wrong and also provide a fresh insight into what was going on in his head at the time. (His choice - after all, as he said, "I'll be reading it anyway so I want to be sure you've got things right". He immediately picked up on the following section which refers to the early days of his anorexia in November 2009:

Saturday 18 August 2012

Where were we approx 18 months ago?

This is the question someone asked me yesterday - another mum of a teenage boy with anorexia whose recovery isn't as far advanced as Ben's. She also asked me why it was that everything seemed to be falling into place so quickly for us at the moment, mainly in regard to Ben's socialising which - as you will know - is something that's been a massive problem over the past years. I am sure she won't mind me giving you a version of my reply to her...

Friday 17 August 2012

At last - back in his social circle

Surprisingly Ben didn't have a hangover this morning after L's BBQ last night where he consumed vast quantities of cider from 5pm onwards before phoning me at 11pm for a lift home, too drunk to go onto the nightclub some of them were planning to go to. It was a happy but very tipsy Ben that sat in my car on the way home, feet on the dashboard, stinking of booze and chatting away about the fantastic evening he'd had.

Thursday 16 August 2012

He got his place at Uni!!!

So Ben's place at university has been confirmed - his first choice, a straight "yes" decision from the Uni. I have been jumping up and down and screeching with delight like a deranged toddler. I think Ben is pleased - the trouble is, his mind is still slightly numbed from the leftovers of the anorexia. It's something he's had a problem with over the past three years: the inability to feel positive emotion in the way most other people would, especially at such an important and excellent result.

Sunday 12 August 2012

An ED-free holiday, and now for the next stage...

We've just returned from two weeks holiday in the south west - a completely ED-free holiday, I am pleased to say - and, following today's weigh-in, Ben hasn't lost any weight. Great stuff. And now for the next stage, which is all about...

Wednesday 8 August 2012

Officially on holiday, but had to show you this...

The Matty family is on holiday in the Forest of Dean, but I had to show you this. Apparently this blog is up in the top 18 eating disorder blogs of 2012, according to (click through to page 10 to read their review). It's great to know that people are finding this blog useful! More blog posts when we get back from holiday.

Monday 23 July 2012

Not skimmed, not semi-skimmed but FULL CREAM milk!

Back in the days of 'high anorexia', and ever since really, a major sticking point was milk. One of the early signs that Ben's eating habits were changing for the worse was when he switched from normal coffee and tea to black coffee and tea - around three years ago. Before then, we'd always had either skimmed or semi-skimmed milk in our fridge. (Ben is on the left in the photo.)

Friday 20 July 2012

I told you we'd do it!

One week on from the 1kg weight loss during the school trip to Poland and Ben has put it all back on - plus a little more too. And he is happy with this which is excellent news.

Saturday 14 July 2012

1kg lighter, but apart from that... NORMAL!!!

Sitting in bars eating ice cream and drinking beer, going back to the hotel with M, having a "deep conversation", falling asleep, being woken up by J, N and P crashing loudly into the room later on with some of the girls, everyone going down to the girls' room on the floor below, some of the boys smoking on the balcony (not Ben!), irate teacher striding down the corridor, knocking on the door and giving them a massive telling off while standing there in his underpants... And that was just one night. Ben might have returned 1kg lighter due to bad meal planning (not his fault), but apart from that... NORMAL!!!

Wednesday 11 July 2012

Ben's gone on a school trip to Auschwitz and I'm home alone

There's something strange and bizarre about someone with (or recovered from) anorexia going to visit a Nazi concentration camp, isn't there? Someone whose starvation was self-imposed in a place where millions of people's starvation was regime-imposed... Yet both sets of people were immediately surrounded by a world where there was more than enough to eat, yet - for very different reasons - they were prevented from having it. Meanwhile I'm enjoying the welcome sense of freedom that comes from having three days to myself.

Friday 6 July 2012

A reply from the Headmaster

Oh, I miss that school already now Ben has officially left. For the past seven years it's been part of my life almost as much as it's been part of his. Four fantastic years followed by three very difficult years. Yesterday I got a reply from the Headmaster to the letter I wrote to him at the weekend. Here is an edited version:

Thursday 5 July 2012

Batty goes into a trance and deals with some issues

I've been seeing a therapist for a few weeks in a bid to get a handle on the extreme anxiety I seem to be feeling most of the time. Lately I've been having nightmares, the kind where you realise you're shouting in your sleep, or sitting bolt upright, or both, and it leaves you feeling rotten for the first few hours of the following day. I've also come out in a host of skin conditions, all thought to be stress-related.

Carefully stepping towards the next stage in recovery

Exams are over and social life is improving. Ben is also feeling more relaxed, and we've recently completed a handful of sessions with a lovely dietitian who provided Ben with a load of 'body science' i.e. why the body does what it does, especially as it emerges from an eating disorder like anorexia. Although most people love the photos of Ben at the school ball, almost everyone has commented on the fact that he still looks very thin and child-like. Some of this will be due to the starvation period stunting his physical development, no doubt, but I believe we are getting to the stage where we need to nudge forwards a bit. Importantly, I believe his mindset is in the right place to accept this...

Wednesday 4 July 2012

Two fingers up at the eating disorder again!

Following on from the extremely sociable weekend, Ben is planning to meet up with some of his old mates this afternoon to go and see Spiderman at the movies. Then on Friday he's meeting another old mate for lunch in town. Meanwhile he's joining a Warhammer club, starting on Sunday afternoon. (Warhammer, in case you don't realise, is about painting plastic fantasy / Lord of the Rings figures and playing table top war games with them. Or something like that. It's Ben's #1 passion.)

Monday 2 July 2012

What I said to the school yesterday

Following on from the bunches of flowers and cards I've taken into school, hubby and I decided it was time to write a letter to the Head to thank the school for its support over the last three years. I thought I'd share it with you...

The art of letting the positive outshine the negative

This morning Ben and I had a long, very fruitful and positive chat about this and that. "The thing is," as I said to him, "As you can imagine over this weekend, as a parent my mind was on a roller coaster. It was so easy to get bogged down in all the 'What could have beens', instead of focusing on all the positive things that have come out of this experience and as a direct result of it."

Sunday 1 July 2012

A bitter sweet weekend, all in all...

Everyone was pleased to see Ben at Prize Day, the Leavers' Ball and the Leavers' Service and Lunch today. At one point there seemed to be a constant trickle of staff coming over to me to say how pleased they were that Ben was there. One girl have him a massive hug outside the chapel after the service this lunchtime, tears in her eyes.

Friday 29 June 2012

The Big Weekend starts tomorrow...

Ben's been at school this afternoon, rehearsing with the other prize winners for Prize Day: the order they need to sit in before they file up to shake the hands of whichever dignitary will be presenting the prizes. In the Good Old Days before the anorexia stripped Ben of his confidence and social skills, he and his friends would sit with the other pupils listening to speech after speech, playing what they call "Prize Day Bingo". Every time the speaker said a typical-prize-day phrase on their list, they'd check it off, trying not to giggle. I wonder if the dignitaries guessed...

Monday 25 June 2012

Hip hooray, the party is a stonking success!

"I think Ben's going to bottle out of J's party," hubby P said to me on Saturday. "I can tell, he's getting all nervous and agitated." "I don't think so at all," I said. "He seems absolutely fine. I am convinced he will go." And I really did feel that he was fine. I wasn't getting any of the Old Anorexia vibes which precede bottling out of social events. Ben seemed to be raring to go.

Saturday 23 June 2012

Oh I can't concentrate so I'll write this instead...

Every time I settle down to do some writing, someone interrupts me. I can't write unless I'm left alone, so I've given it up as a bad job for today. What I need is to hire a picture-postcard cottage overlooking the sea, sit down there - alone - with my laptop and write that book.....!

Tuesday 19 June 2012

Good grief, there is so much stuff!

In my rough draft I am up to the period between our first CAMHS session at the end of January 2010 and the day Ben 'downed tools' in March - the day he spat out half a tub of ice cream onto the kitchen floor and refused to work with the 3 x meals, 3 x snacks eating plan any longer. And what a lot of notes and other info I've got to plough my way through!

Saturday 16 June 2012

Boiling down the events between Oct 2009 and Jan 2010

The four months between October 2009 and late January 2010 are the most complicated months to describe in the book I'm writing about our journey in and out of anorexia. It's also difficult going back to this period - the period between when the penny finally dropped that Ben was developing anorexia through to the day he ended up in the cardio ward with a pulse rate of 29 which fast-tracked us into treatment the very next week.

Thursday 14 June 2012

Yay, good news all round!

GOOD NEWS! Incredibly, he was smiling when I picked him up from the exam marathon at lunchtime. "The exams were OK", he said. "I didn't manage to finish the conclusion to the last Politics essay and my hand is knackered from writing solid for three hours, but apart from that - fine." So, at his suggestion, we went to the MacArthur Glen shopping outlet / mall in York.

Efferty efferty eff - insomnia as predicted...

This morning sees the final two A Level exams. Worse, because of a timetable / exam boards clash, they're back-to-back, which means three solid hours of writing about Religious Studies and then Politics. As predicted, Ben's insomnia kicked in - KERPOW! - overnight. Result? He was a total zombie this morning...

Monday 11 June 2012

Ooooh, I am so excited!

FEAST, the 'parent' website of the Around the Dinner Table Forum (for parents and carers of young people with eating disorders) is organising a 2-day carers' conference here in the UK in November for its registered members - and I am so excited about it!

Sunday 10 June 2012

Final week of A level exams...

We will both be glad when this week is over. Ben has three exams this week, all morning exams, which isn't brilliant now the insomnia has returned. Worse still, two of the exams are back-to-back, one after the other. So if he doesn't sleep the night before, it'll be a nightmare.

Thursday 7 June 2012

Why I STILL write my blog...

I've already explained why I started my blog, what Ben thinks of it and its two main purposes i.e. to help other parents of boys with eating disorders realise they're not alone on this journey, and to help raise awareness of the fact that boys get eating disorders as well as girls. Here's why I continue to write my blog, despite my son having been discharged from anorexia treatment in March and well on the road to recovery...

Raising awareness of eating disorders through this blog

This post is in response to a comment about whether, through this blog, I might be wrongly publicising and exploiting eating disorders at the expense of my son's privacy and his need to free himself from his connections with anorexia as he recovers. Here's my response...

Wednesday 6 June 2012

A reminder of why I write this blog...

Why do I write this blog? Why do I talk about ultra-personal things here on the Internet, in the public domain, where anyone can see it? Especially when a third party is involved i.e. my own teenage son? What does he think about it? Does he read my blog? Am I maybe a little too obsessed with eating disorders, maybe even glorifying them to a certain extent, rather than putting it all away in a box, forgetting about it and moving onto the next stage in our lives? Here's just one reason why I write this blog, based on a post from August 2011...

Monday 4 June 2012

He is actually quite touched by the award...

So I subtly asked him what he felt about the two Prize Day awards and he said nothing about thinking it's peculiar or anything like that. And when I prompted him on how he felt about that particular award, he said he felt very touched by it and felt grateful to the school for recognising his fight to overcome the anorexia. Good. That put my mind at rest, so it's only me that's unsure how I feel about it. But what he did say was this...

Sunday 3 June 2012

This is a bit peculiar... or is it? I can't decide...

As you may have seen from my Facebook page, Ben is being given a couple of awards at the school Prize Day (to be held at the end of the month). One is the 'Extended Project Qualification Prize'. Okay, that's brilliant. But the other is the 'D---- H----- Prize for Overcoming Physical Difficulties'. Now, I can't quite decide whether that's really great or whether it's just kind of weird...

Really good session yesterday with the new dietitian

Yesterday Ben and I spent an hour with the new dietitian, putting her in the picture about Ben's anorexia and the stage he is at now - plus all the remaining challenges, as outlined in my previous blog post. It was really good and she 'got it' immediately. But, then, I expected she would. After all, she seems to be one of the region's leading eating disorder dietitians and has also been on the telly several times (talking about eating disorders and working with people with anorexia, etc). So a huge thank you to my dear late Dad for paying for these sessions.

Friday 1 June 2012

A course of private treatment sessions, starting tomorrow

Both Ben and I are well aware that there are several 'loose ends', shall we say, that need tidying up - and that he has reached a plateau where he needs a little help to move forwards. So tomorrow we start a series of private treatment sessions to try to sort this all out and get things moving again, towards full and complete recovery.

Wednesday 30 May 2012

Big blazer, but a blazing success all in all...

Today was Leavers' Day - when the Upper Sixth Form leave school to start exams - and Ben managed everything OK, I am delighted to say. Photographs, buffet lunch, headmaster's speech and so on... he stayed the course.

Tuesday 29 May 2012

“Get help before they turn 18.”

This is what one mother said when her (recovered 20-something) daughter asked what the "biggest piece of advice she would give another parent" going through what she and her daughter had been through together. "Get help before they turn 18."

Saturday 26 May 2012

He almost made it to the Arts Dinner last night...

It had been hard work to get him there. Several invitations from peers and members of staff, in fact I know the staff really, really wanted him to be there. And he made it as far as the dinner venue itself, in the school hall. I dropped him off and went to the supermarket on the way home. Then he called me. He couldn't handle it and needed to leave quickly...

Thursday 24 May 2012

Farewell dear friend...

I hate that part of funerals. You know, when they carry the coffin or casket into church and place it at the front. Knowing that my dear friend was in that coffin made it doubly hard, as did standing at the front of the church mid-way through the service, with her right beside me, as I talked about the difference she had made to our lives.

Wednesday 23 May 2012

A sunny start to a difficult day...

Today is my friend S's day, the day when we 'say goodbye' to her earthly body, the body that let her down in the end and imprisoned her, so I imagine that wherever she is, she's pretty darn glad to be rid of it. It's a sunny day, and listening to the Beach Boys 'Surfing USA' on the radio, I wish I could believe that she is surfing somewhere, on some amazing blue ocean, her long hair streaming out behind her. (She always longed to grow her original long blonde hair back...)

Saturday 19 May 2012

Bypassing the small talk and getting to the heart of the matter

When an eating disorder like anorexia is dominating your life and thoughts 24/7, it's really hard to focus on anything else, let alone 'small talk' or trivia. Yet so often, as a desperate parent of a child with an eating disorder, you're forced to suppress this about-to-erupt volcano of emotions to talk about the weather, who won the X Factor or some other similarly mind-numbing tat.

Thursday 17 May 2012

Walking and talking with Ben in the countryside

Along with the anorexia recovery contract, walking and talking is one of the most important things Ben and I have done over the past couple of years. Back in the days of 'high anorexia' we'd do umpteen walks in the local countryside and parks, especially when he was off school semi-permanently. We'd walk and talk once, twice or three times a week, through spring, summer, autumn and winter. Initially, and for a heck of a long time... almost a year... I might as well have been talking in Chinese...

Tuesday 15 May 2012

Something she wrote when Ben was going through a bad patch

What with work, my dad's illness and death, my mum, school and Ben's eating disorder, I didn't get to see my friend as much as I would have liked to. Also, because of her cancer we couldn't always go out and do things that 'normal' friends would do. So most of the time we just sat in her living room, talking. And, in the days when she could still walk a mile or so, she'd come round here with her sweet little Shih Tzu dog, Benji.

Monday 14 May 2012

A little woman with a massive heart...

One Sunday back in March 2010 as Ben was busy falling off a cliff into the worst of his anorexia and I was crying out for help and support, I went along to the local baptist church for the first time. I was desperate for support, any support, anything really...

Sunday 13 May 2012

Temporary implosion has resulted in a duvet day for Batty...

It's not been a good week inside Batty's head. Thankfully Ben's eating disorder has only been a very small part of it. But all week long I've been anxious and on edge, unable to concentrate, unable to write my blog properly, unable to sleep and - today - unable to get out of bed.

Friday 11 May 2012

"I can put a salad together for him if that's easier"...

Said my sister-in-law a year ago when we spent a couple of days with her for Granddad Matty's funeral. With so many people arriving left, right and centre, the easiest thing to do was for everyone to have fish'n'chips, the prospect of which, of course, sent the eating disorder into turmoil...

Wednesday 9 May 2012

A different kettle of fish from the Lorraine appearance

The interview wasn't live so I've no idea how much of the footage Sky News will use until I see it (on Saturday, I think). So how did it go? Well, as with the Lorraine Kelly show, it's a bit of a blur to me.

Last night ED said to me when I was cooking tea...

"Did you put just one tablespoon of oil into the bolognaise sauce? Because it's normal minced beef, not lean mince?"

Attempting to summarise our story in as few words as possible

Anyone who knows my style of writing knows I can ramble on. But, as a copywriter, I am also a dab hand at editing things down to the bare essentials so it fits within the allotted space on the website, brochure or whatever. So, in a bid to cram up on what needs to be at the front of my mind this afternoon, I've taken our Lorraine Kelly interview and other notes and come up with this:

Tuesday 8 May 2012

Possible telly interview again, out come the cribbing notes...

I hate being on the telly but if it's going to raise awareness of teenage boys and eating disorders, then so be it - only I'm not sure whether or not this latest interview will be happening. Like all these things, it's always 11th hour and rushed which I find hard to deal with because I like to prepare for things properly, especially with a topic as serious as anorexia in boys. I thought the Lorraine Kelly show appearance was 11th hour but this could be even more 11th hour. I managed to get my voice heard on Lorraine Kelly, but can I do it again?

Husband and son fighting at 6.30am is not good...

Following another anxiety-fuelled sleepless night, Ben decided not to go into school again today which resulted in H rushing up to his room and both of them screaming at each other. Then H comes back downstairs with the old familiar "I'm sick of all this. Just let him get on with it. If he wants to effing kill himself then let him effing kill himself. It's like being on drugs; he'll never recover. He's stuck with it, for life." And so on...

Monday 7 May 2012

Tidying up all the loose ends

Ben refuses to see a therapist to tidy up all those loose ends. So although I had a long and fruitful chat with JH, the private therapist we used for a while in 2009, Ben refuses to play ball. However a dear friend of mine has suggested someone else who may be even more relevant and who Ben might just say yes to.

Thursday 3 May 2012

See our interview on the Lorraine Kelly show

ITV1 have just sent me the footage of our interview on the Lorraine Kelly show the other week - and given me permission to share it on YouTube:

Tuesday 1 May 2012

But I will not back off altogether and here's why...

My dear friends on the ATDT forum (for parents of young people with eating disorders) pointed out this sad link to a report about a beautiful 19 year old girl who lost her fight with anorexia. To me, the bit that stands out the most is where her mother says: "...Beth was not a child so I could not force her to get help." As I say on the ATDT forum: "I live in dread of my 18 year old son relapsing and me being unable to do anything about it because of the law."

Time for me to back off...

Anon left a comment on yesterday's blog which, curiously, echoes what has been going through my head overnight. Last night, over tea, Ben and I had a massive row. Not because of the food but because I was fed up to the back teeth of him playing the "poor me" victim as far as his social life is concerned.

Monday 30 April 2012

Which came first, the chicken or the egg?

I'm sitting here, face now dry, makeup now run, trying to work out for the life of me when it all started, why it all started and if it could have been avoided. Or would the anorexia have muscled into Ben's life regardless. In other words, was he doomed from the start?

Sunday 29 April 2012

Clearing out stuff and getting to the root of the problem

It started yesterday when I did a much-needed clear-out of the back bedroom. I went through a suitcase full of stuff I'd collected over the years: Ben's primary school reports, certificates and other stuff, and a mountain of stuff I'd collected over the last 7 years to form a lasting memory of his years at the senior school - the school we'd all dreamed of him getting a place at and which, before ED the anorexia 'demon' arrived, was rapidly becoming the making of Ben.

Friday 27 April 2012

Okay, so this is Batty's NEXT plan...

Thank you, my brilliant blog followers, for coming straight back with some very sensible, helpful and practical advice on what to do about the insomnia / social / all the other disarray that the ED's left in its wake. This is what I've decided to do - and I've told Ben that I'm not 'asking' if he'd like to do it, but TELLING him that he needs to do it, so we're doing it, no objections allowed.

3rd day of missed school and A Levels less than a month away...

I know Ben managed to study almost exclusively at home for his GCSEs AND get really good results, but the school says it's very different for A Levels, especially with Ben having to resit some of last year's AS Level exams at the same time. Exams are less than a month away and he's only been in school for a total of 8 hours this week...

Thursday 26 April 2012

Plans A, B & C to deal with the anxiety and insomnia

Okay, so Ben is finding it harder than ever to go into school. His insomnia is back with a vengeance, fuelled by anxiety, which means he is missing large chunks of school. On top of this he has A Levels in a month's time. So what can be done? Well, I've come up with 3 x plans: A, B and C which I'm going to go through with him this afternoon to see if it will take some of the pressure off him.

Monday 23 April 2012

At a loss what to do next...

And so the social isolation continues, and I can't help but feel it's mainly self-imposed isolation. If I thought that Ben was isolating himself from his peers a few months or even a year ago, it is now far, far worse. And, to be honest, I haven't a clue what to do.

Sunday 22 April 2012

Weight creeping up, but what does ED think of it?

Ben is almost up to 60kg which, in my eyes, is excellent. But I'm not so sure that it is in ED's eyes, that little bit of the eating disorder that's still left inside Ben's head, desperately trying for a last ditch attempt to win Ben back to its evil ways.

Friday 20 April 2012

Would our Contract have worked earlier in the treatment?

Probably not. Because, at that stage, Ben - egged on by the Anorexia 'Demon' - was actively working against us. Like many people with anorexia, he was also a dab hand at pulling the wool over people's eyes. As I grew to know the Anorexia Demon's sneaky tricks, I could usually tell when Ben was lying to us, hiding food or throwing it away 'in secret'.

Thursday 19 April 2012

"Points STILL win prizes!"

Without doubt, one of the Number One drivers in moving Ben's recovery from anorexia forward over the past 13 months has been our Recovery Contract (see the tabbed link at the top or click here to find out more). I introduced it on 20th March 2011 after a mum in the States emailed me the Contract she uses for her daughter. It worked for them, so - fed up with being stuck in a kind of Limboland with Ben at the time - I decided to give it a try. We never looked back - and if you are looking for something to put the dynamite into your child's recovery, it might just work for you.

Wednesday 18 April 2012

Okay, so what DID I get to say yesterday...

That's the trouble with 5 minute interviews - you simply don't have enough time to even get started, let alone say all you want to say. Also, the nature of interviews is that you also need time for the interviewer (here, Lorraine Kelly of GMTV) to ask the questions and comment on your replies. Plus time for any other person (in this case, GMTV's Dr Hilary Jones) to say their bit, too. Oh, and I almost forgot, (shame on me!) time for my son to talk about the descent into anorexia from his own perspective. After all, it's not all about Batty Matty!! So, in a nutshell, this is what I did - and didn't - cover on the Lorraine Kelly show yesterday.

Tuesday 17 April 2012

Talking about anorexia in boys with Lorraine Kelly...

Batty and 'Ben' appeared on ITV's 'Lorraine' with Lorraine Kelly today (just after GMTV's Daybreak programme (Tuesday 17th April), talking about the frightening rise of anorexia in boys (which the media sometimes call 'manorexia', on the Lorraine programme our slot was entitled 'Tackling Manorexia'). Anyway, we've just got back home after a long, long, long day with Lorraine Kelly and everyone (actually we were only in the ITV studio for a couple of hours, and with Lorraine Kelly for 5 or 6 minutes), and - boy - are we seriously tired!!

Monday 16 April 2012

So this is what I plan to say (in case I don't manage to say it)...

Firstly, yes the TV is going ahead. Secondly, this is what I plan to say - just in case I get sidetracked, get stage fright or don't have enough time to say it...

Saturday 14 April 2012

Our story is important, but maybe not as important as theirs...

The latest news on the telly appearance on Tuesday morning is that it's 'on hold' and we won't find out until Monday morning, just hours before our train is due to leave for London, if it's going ahead of not.

Friday 13 April 2012

More about Tuesday

I'll see if I can get some kind of video clip sent to me that I can stick on here or on Youtube rather than just relying on catchup TV.

Thursday 12 April 2012

All will be revealed on Tuesday morning...

Batty and Ben have been invited to appear on ITV's Good Morning show with Lorraine Kelly on Tuesday morning - an interview set up to highlight the growing number of teenage boys being diagnosed with anorexia and other eating disorders. We have a 6-8 minute slot so it will be like trying to cram a king size duvet into a mobile phone pouch. And, of course, viewers will see us under our real names.

Thursday 5 April 2012

Been down with a horrible fluey bug for over a week...

My punishment for juggling too many balls recently, me thinks, but I've been really poorly this week. Thankfully I'm a lot better today and Ben has been so sweet looking after me, serving up non-stop home-made 'comfort food' from mini Chelsea buns, chocolate brownies and chocolate mini egg nests to apple crumble and custard, sticky chewy datey bars and amaretti biscuits to dunk in reviving cocoa. And, yes, he has been eating these things too - and more, including the twice weekly Graze Box I now get for him.

Friday 30 March 2012

Fighting for our boys, why I identify with this mum...

Of course I don't condone what Sheffield student Richard O'Dwyer got up to on his laptop in his cramped student flat, but what I do identify with is what his mother, Julia O'Dwyer, is going through in dropping everything to fight tooth and nail for her beloved son.

Wednesday 28 March 2012

Okay, I'm back... and I'm angry...

These last 6 weeks or so have been turmoil, for reasons already explained, and my blog has taken a total backseat in the proceedings. But now I'm back, hopefully without any more breaks. And today I am angry. Actually, yesterday I was angry. And the day before.

Friday 2 March 2012

Another doom & gloom CAMHS session

Another reason why it's probably not a bad thing to be leaving CAMHS is that the past few sessions have succeeded in bringing Ben's mood down to rock-bottom levels. They have also given the bit of ED that remains the chance to 'slang off Big Bad Mom' to the psychiatrist. "SHE told me blah....", "SHE always says blah..." and "SHE's only saying that to because you're here", etc. Boy, that ED sure knows how to hurt a mother. But, then, that's its job just as it's mine to sit there and take it.

Thursday 1 March 2012

When you know you know more than the professional...

Today we saw a really lovely lady from CAMHS - someone whose job it is to handle the transition between CAMHS (for under 18s) and Adult Services, University or whatever other transition it is. But I couldn't help feeling that I was informing her, rather than the other way round...

Saturday 25 February 2012

Gradually coming back down to earth...

The past two weeks have been a complete blur of paperwork, bills, solicitors, funeral, work, university visits, sorting out Dad's belongings, helping mum, etc etc and I am well and truly exhausted!!!! Meanwhile Ben spent Thursday afternoon being interviewed by a researcher from Oxford University for this project. I will let you know when it goes live.

Saturday 18 February 2012

A hell of a week...

Apologies for being AWOL for a week or so. Last Saturday at 3.15 in the morning I got a phone call from the hospital to say my dad had just passed away. As a result, this week, as you can imagine, has been a hell of a time: supporting my mum (after breaking the news to her), organising the funeral, sorting out official paperwork and all the other paperwork, cancelling / postponing all my paid work, taking Ben for history dept open day at Sheffield Uni on Wed followed by CAMHS on Thurs - followed by Ben deciding he was 'too sick' to go away with the young people from church this weekend, a trip that would have done him the world of good socially.

Wednesday 8 February 2012

"I'm happy to settle for 'good enough'"

... said the psychiatrist at CAMHS yesterday afternoon. Ben's mood was very low and he was extremely anxious. He admitted to being tempted to give in to the ED thoughts. "My mum told me that when I was recovered I'd feel better emotionally", he said with an accusing look, going on to imply that - because he felt cr*p - he might as well give in to the eating disorder. After all, he felt 'safe' there.

Sunday 5 February 2012

"I'm fine as I am!"

I am still gently pushing for extra weight gain so Ben has a 'buffer zone' should he be prevented from eating his 2400-2500 daily calories for whatever reason (e.g. 'freshers flu' at uni, etc) - and also because I really, really want him to get back to the size he was before the eating disorder hit. Yet Ben is less than enthusiastic...

Friday 3 February 2012

Will he, won't he, will he, won't he, will he join the party?

Already he's "feeling tired" and asking me if I wouldn't much rather he stayed home to save me having to drive out at goodness only knows what hour to pick him up from the club in town where C is having her 18th birthday party.

Thursday 2 February 2012

I've just read two really powerful blog posts

The first is this one, from Laura Collins, founder of FEAST and author of this book. The other is from Carrie Arnold, former anorexia sufferer and author of this book.

Tuesday 31 January 2012

Big meeting at school tomorrow

Tomorrow afternoon I've arranged to meet with the Assistant Head, Head of Sixth Form and School Nurse about the problems Ben is still experiencing at school. On the agenda will be...

Monday 30 January 2012

Thanks Giant Fossilized Armadillo for these questions

Giant Fossilized Armadillo often comments on my blog and is herself in remission from anorexia. Here are some fun questions she asked some of her contacts today with my answers. Just for fun, kind of...

"Not suicidal enough"

For some reason at 3am this morning I got thinking back to the time when Ben was suicidal. This was throughout the summer of 2010 when he was at his worst, five months into treatment and ten months after his GP referral. The thought came to mind: "Just how suicidal did he have to be before anyone would take action?"

Sunday 29 January 2012

Would GPs be so slow in responding if we were talking cancer?

I went along to an all-day BEAT conference in Leeds yesterday, with another ED mum I know well. One thing that came across strongly from the various speakers and discussions was the apathy, lack of awareness and sheer dragging of feet shown by British GPs when faced with a young person needing to be referred for eating disorder treatment.

Wednesday 25 January 2012

Starbucks with a woman who knows eating disorders inside out

ELT is a 40-something academic who has lived with anorexia since her teens. She is now in remission and always insists on Full Cream Milk in her favourite Cappuccino with Chocolate Sprinkles, naturally. She is one of the many friends and contacts I've made in the world of Eating Disorders over the past months and years, and she lives just around the corner from me.

Tuesday 24 January 2012

Saturday 21 January 2012

Today's baking reminds me of Baking Days From Hell...

Ben's about to make amaretti biscuits, except he's customising them because we don't have any almond paste so he's using marzipan (which it says you mustn't use, LOL...) So a bit of improvisation is required. In the Bad Old Days this would probably have led to yet another Baking Day From Hell...

Friday 20 January 2012

Food, calories and exercise... how it was and how it is now, for Anon

Because Anon's latest questions might also be relevant to other people, I am doing a second post based on our own personal experience. Of course every family's experiences will be different and this is no substitute for proper medical or professional advice! But it might prove useful to someone, so here goes...

Thursday 19 January 2012

Answering Anon's comment on my last entry...

After I published my last post, Anon sent me an interesting comment : "I was just wondering, with Ben during his recovery has he ever been taking any supplements such as ensure plus, resource, benecalorie etc? And what have his portion sizes been like for meals? Has he ever been eating large portions e.g large portions of meat, large plates full at dinner etc?"

CAMHS sessions going from strength to strength...

... Just as we are about to lose our psychiatrist who is on maternity leave from March... So we have a heck of a lot of loose ends to tie up before then. This morning, in response to Ben's remark that - although he was well aware that his "mind was screwed up" at the height of the anorexia - he wasn't entirely convinced his body was in danger. The psychiatrist immediately put him right about that...

Monday 16 January 2012

So how did the psych meeting go on Friday?

Well I whipped out the (huge A3 version of the) photo and thrust it onto the desk in front of the psychiatrist. She could see my point. She also told me that it was obvious to her that his bone structure / build needs to carry more flesh.

Thursday 12 January 2012

If you don't succeed at first...

If you've read through my blog you will know that the main bone of contention between me and our treatment team (now comprising a psychiatrist) is that, throughout the treatment, I have believed that their idea of Weight Normalisation / Restored is TOO LOW for Ben.

Wednesday 11 January 2012

More on the subject of new year diets...

Thank you for all your comments on my last post. I've put a complaint into the Unit and they say they'll investigate it further. In response to ELT's comment on my post, yes this seems to be part of the problem Ben's facing i.e. on one hand the 'health professionals' are telling him to eat MORE calories while on the other a tonne of other 'health professionals' are telling people to eat LESS. Also, he's being told to CUT DOWN on exercise while seeing all the media messages about INCREASING it.

Tuesday 10 January 2012

Dieting MAD!!!!

It's that confounded time of year when all his female friends seem to be able to talk about is DIETS and how few calories they have consumed that day. It is driving Ben MAD! He finds it really, really difficult to handle being around people that are talking about diets - I mean REALLY hard...

As if to rub salt into the wound...

Like some dreadful pop song you can't get out of your head, the School Song has been playing in my mind on a non-stop loop since it was sung in the school chapel on Sunday. I went to bed trying to push it out of my head. It was there at each of the 5 or 6 times I awoke during the night and it is still here this morning.

Monday 9 January 2012

The gleaming spires of Christminster

In Thomas Hardy's 'Jude the Obscure', Jude dreams of aspiring to the 'gleaming spires of Christminster' (university) which he could see in the distance. For several years, when Ben was small, I'd drive home from work over the high moorland looking towards my own 'gleaming spires', as I referred to Ben's school back then.

Like a bolt of lightening

I was completely unprepared for the way it hit me yesterday - the sheer force of heart-break emotions as, there in front of me, stood 'what might have been' or, rather, 'what SHOULD have been' if it wasn't for the way the eating disorder had stolen such a massive chunk from Ben's teenage life.

Friday 6 January 2012

I have all the material; I just need to formulate the book!

A while ago I mentioned that I'd like to write a book about my experiences as a parent of a teenage boy with anorexia. Following that, I sat down and collated a truck-load of information, including all the stuff from this blog. Then I worked on structure after structure, creating umpteen different documents on my computer. Result? Chaos!

Wednesday 4 January 2012

Have you joined the ATDT forum yet?

What is the ATDT (Around The Dinner Table) forum? It is a forum aimed at supporting parents of young people who are suffering from the full range of eating disorders, including anorexia and bulimia. Some of these parents are new members, others are 'old timers' like me, now into my third year on the forum.

Tuesday 3 January 2012

Back to the university's Disrupted Studies form...

Cue Version One Zillion as I attempt to construct the framework for Ben to write a supporting statement for the Disrupted Studies form, explaining more about how the anorexia has affected his studies over the past two and a half years. When I say 'framework', I mean something that he can take and put into his own words. It's important to get this right. After all, the university knows very little about Ben's background over and above the limited space allowed on the UCAS University Application Form.

Monday 2 January 2012

So what role has Ben's dad played in all this?

I am aware that I don't often mention my husband and his role in managing Ben's recovery from anorexia. That's mainly because, for the first year or so, he was working away from home. Poor bloke - all he ever got was grief over the telephone as we lurched from one crisis to another. "I'll phone Dad" was a threat I'd use when Ben's behaviour got completely out of control. Not that it did any good and it only upset his dad who, no doubt, felt pretty helpless on the other side of the country.