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.

ELT has also researched extensively into eating disorders and knows her stuff - inside out.

I like meeting ELT for coffee in my local Starbucks because she always gives me invaluable insights into what it is like to live with an eating disorder. Her experience isn't a carbon copy of Ben's by any means, but - like so many experiences of anorexia - there is a heck of a lot of common ground.

Meeting ELT also gives me a great opportunity to talk about the issues that have been bothering me lately, as the mum of a teenage boy recovering from anorexia.

ELT has met Ben. We met up at Pizza Express back in the summer along with another ED mum friend and her daughter who is the same age and at the same stage of recovery as Ben.

Yesterday ELT remarked that Ben still looked very thin when she saw him, and also a little withdrawn.

And she's not the only person who has said this to me recently. But, then, I firmly believe that Ben needs to put on more kilos before he reaches his optimum weight. I always have done.

Like my mum, I tend to talk pretty loud (I think??) because I'm going deaf in one ear and I noticed that ELT was responding quietly to anything I said. Was I talking too loud? Was our conversation being overheard by everyone in Starbucks? There we were talking about anorexia, mental health, traumatic events and anorexia as a potential killer while everyone around us was catching up on the local gossip or surfing the Net.

I noticed a couple opposite who were obviously on maternity / paternity leave. The dad had the new baby boy on his lap, his face a picture of emotion as he marveled at the tiny fingers and toes.

What did the future hold for them, I wondered. Would that little boy grow up big and strong like every parent hopes and prays? I hoped and prayed he would - and that the mum wouldn't be talking about the kind of issues we were talking about in several years' time.

Seeing a new family like that always affects me and I'm instantly reminded of when H and I would go places with the new born Ben 18 years ago. Only, unlike that placid little boy, Ben was always screaming blue murder and making it impossible for anyone to enjoy a quiet coffee. Being partially deaf in one ear would probably have been an advantage back then!

But it was great to meet up with ELT again yesterday and I look forward to our next meeting.


  1. Thank you Batty! :) I am flattered that you have written so nicely about me :) It was lovely catch up again - and no, you didn't talk too loud. The place was so noisy that at times I had to ask you to repeat what you said!

    It is only now that I am so much more recovered from anorexia that I can see the illness from others' points of view. When I was sick all I could think of was my next exercise session (which had to be exact - same treadmill in the gym; same time of day - and total angst if it didn't go to plan..), or next meal - which was also controlled very precisely. My life was a list of ED 'rules' and I was so trapped. Weight gain (and maintenance) has helped me to think so much more clearly, but I remain vigilant, because I so want to keep well.

    I think you've been a fantastic Mum to Ben. All the mothers I have met via FEAST are such caring people.


    1. Proof, as we said yesterday, that good things have come out of all this as well as all the horrible stuff. xx

  2. The next time you go for your chat, let me know.. I'll go to *my* Starbucks and I'll Skype y'all in! We could have an international ED meeting. LOL

    1. Not sure what time it would be when it's 10.30 here in the UK!

  3. I need to also comment on the whole talking loudly about ED and mental health etc. I chuckle to myself about this, because when I'm out with my advocate friends we tend to have similar conversations, although not about ED but CSA (childhood sexual abuse). I often wonder what people overhearing us must think, that we have the most disturbed minds around? We discuss over Mexican food and beers what most people don't want to think about. But if that's where you live, it's where you live. Enjoy your latte, or cappuccino or whatever it is that floats your boat Matty, because you never know if that shy girl in the corner, the one brooding over her black coffee agonizing over whether she should eat a pastry or go running *again* that morning is hanging on every word to save her life. Blessings to you, and much love.

    1. Re: "You never know if that shy girl in the corner, the one brooding over her black coffee agonizing over whether she should eat a pastry or go running *again* that morning is hanging on every word to save her life"

      I never saw it like that, ValesMom. You are so wise!

  4. Hi there,

    Just found your blog and would really like to subscribe to it via email (I'm on wordpress). Could you put an email widget on your right sidebar so that people can enter their email address and get your posts automatically?

    Cheers, and well done on being so open about a condition that isn't exclusively female...

    Best hugs,