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.

Plan A: Ben gets his A Levels and goes to Uni in September

  • We draw up a University Contract so I can discreetly monitor how he's getting on (this is a blog post in itself, so I won't go into detail here unless this is a 'goer').
  • There is the option to leave part way through, if necessary, and pick up where he left off a year later (standard practice, I believe, for universities).

Plan B: Ben gets his A Levels but defers Uni entry until 2013 to focus on full recovery

  • He gets a part-time job or voluntary work to keep him occupied, maybe earn some money, get used to being out of the house and meet new people.
  • To keep his brain active, and because Ben needs the intellectual stimulation of academic study, he studies online for an additional qualification in an area he's passionate about e.g. ancient history, archaeology, etc.

Plan C: Ben needs to resit some of his A Levels with a view to 2013 Uni entry
  • He attends school on an occasional basis to revise and sit the exams (already agreed with the school).
  • He studies online for an additional qualification (see Plan B).

In the meantime I've made a double-length appointment with our GP for next week to review his medication and see what can be done, now we no longer have CAMHS.


  1. For what it's worth, my little sister ended up doing Option C while she fully recovered from bulimia and depression with self-harm. It was hard for her at the time, but she now says she couldn't have coped with uni at that time anyway, even if she'd gotten the grades. A few years of mental illness had meant she'd missed out on certain developmental milestones in her teenage years - socially, emotionally, psychologically, etc... and she needed a couple more years to get to the sort of place where she could cope with the different challenges and pressures of uni. After she got her school grades, and once she was well enough, she worked in a retail job for a year (with a lovely gentle manager and fellow staff) that got her back into socialising with people, taking on board some responsibility, and even just having to be somewhere at the same time every day, plus learning to manage her money. It was all invaluable preparation for her, and when she actually went to uni, she blitzed it... is able to really enjoy it, and gets pretty much straight As in every subject, because she's able to focus on study, rather than how stressed she is. I'm really proud of her, and I'm pretty convinced she needed the extra time not just for the school leaving grades (which weren't really an issue since she's really smart), but just the added maturity, after essentially missing a few years of her life due to the ED.

    Just my two cents to say there's no shame in option C - but you already know that. Good luck with whateve you and Ben decide!

    1. That is so reassuring, Anon! I get a gut instinct this is the right way to go, but Ben seems 100% set on going to uni in Sept if he gets his grades, which is why I need 'a talk' with him...

  2. I did plan A and went to university four months after being discharged from a 6 month hospital stay for anorexia. I had a contract with my parents - that I would be weighed weekly at the doctor's, that they would come up to visit to see how I was doing etc and that if it didn't work out I would come home and defer. Fortunately, that did not need to happen - uni was the making of me. The freedom and independence I had was in such contrast to the restriction of being in hospital. The university life - friends, fun, LIFE - gave me a reason to eat. Obviously there were difficult times and it wasn't all rainbows and sunshine. I did see a therapist whilst i was there to help me through. But I just wanted to say that although optiion A might be scary, it could be a great thing for Ben.

  3. I am so pleased to hear that Plan A worked for you - and how WELL it worked for you, Catherine! That is soooo reassuring to know and I am thrilled University was such a great experience for you. Thanks. xxx

  4. I think plan C but without the extra course would be best for Ben. You already know that he is academic but he lacks skills in other areas such as making and maintaining friendships, trying new things that would be more helpful life skills for him than a OU course. It might be helpful to look at his recovery in the truest sense.... not in terms of achieving set targets and goals but living a life worth living, whatever that means for Ben x