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...
My H has always been of the opinion that we're powerless to anything except just sit there and let the eating disorder consume Ben until he ends up hospitalised on a feeding tube "because maybe then he'll realise what he's doing to himself and turn it all around. You have to let them reach rock-bottom before they can change..." That kind of approach.
"And I'm fed up of being lied to", he added.
"Pardon me?" I responded.
"Him saying one thing and you saying another."
"Him saying he can go right down to 18BMI if he wants to and the maximum he should be is 22 and he's already 21, at risk of blobbing out."
"No, the NHS states that a healthy BMI range for an adult male is at the bare minimum 18.5 and can go as high as 25. He really needs to sit somewhere in the middle of this, ideally."
"Well that's not what he says. And he says the ED thoughts are getting stronger because he's putting on weight and is worried he won't be able to stop - or you won't stop him. He blames you for overfeeding him as a child; always giving him food to shut him up."
"That's not true! Yes, I fed him a lot of milk as a baby, but you know what he was like... screaming round the clock... a bottle in the mouth was often the only way to stop him screaming. But I never did that later on in his childhood." I'd always fed Ben healthy stuff and kept away from junk food. It was Ben that developed a huge appetite which eventually led to puppy fat. But as he became more and more sporty, the excess weight dropped off and a lithe, athletic physique took its place.
But pointing the finger like this is never going to achieve anything. The fact is that Ben developed an eating disorder and it wasn't because I "overfed him as a child" just as an eating disorder isn't "caused" by size zero models in the media.
With H and the eating disorder, it's always been a case of 'all or nothing'. It's all going relatively OK or it's a complete disaster - a veritable Armageddon where Ben is spiralling downhill at a rapid pace, treatment or no treatment, and nothing anyone can do will stop it happening. All we can do is "let him get on with it" and "if he wants to kill himself, then let him kill himself, I wash my hands of it".
What I do know is that Ben is finding things hard at the moment. The double-whammy of exam pressure and the social problems are making the "anorexia voice" louder. He is managing to cope with it and carry on eating what he should be eating. But he does need help in moving forwards again. It might happen naturally when the exams are over, but there are still quite a few loose ends that need seeing to - as listed in my previous post and which I hope the new therapist can help with.
He does need to work on the fear of putting on any more weight. He does need to work on the fear of not being able to stop eating unless he carefully controls his intake by counting calories. He does need to work on social eating so he can eat out with, or be cooked for, by friends and enjoy it for what it is - a fun social occasion rather than something to get stressed over. And he does need to work on the temptation to give in to the eating disorder which is telling him that he doesn't need to eat as much as he is eating; he can get by on less.
Hopefully this is where further, targeted therapy can help and I am convinced that this new therapist is exactly what Ben needs.