Thursday 7 June 2012

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...

Firstly, let me say that my son has always been 100% behind this blog. It was he that suggested I write it in the first place and he's always nagging at me to "do more" to help raise awareness of eating disorders in a society where eating disorders are often shrouded in secrecy, shame and misunderstanding - and also where there is still too little awareness of eating disorders in teenage boys.

Ben himself has been actively and enthusiastically involved in a project which Oxford University are putting together about the various health issues that affect modern teenagers, one of which is eating disorders in males. It's something he did himself, off his own bat, without any input from me. It will be published in the Autumn.

In other words, this is what he chooses to do. Some people may wish to put the anorexia experience behind them and move on. Ben prefers to get active!

He has also tried to become a Young Ambassador for B-eat (but unfortunately they're not taking on any new Young Ambassadors at the moment).

My way of raising awareness of eating disorders and boys is to write this blog which will eventually be used to write a book. Other parents I know also write excellent blogs about eating disorders and do a host of other things to raise awareness of the condition. In fact I am awestruck by some of the things they do. It makes me with my little blog feel incredibly humble.

But I do know that, through this blog, I have helped several other parents of teenagers with eating disorders and especially parents of boys with eating disorders. At the end of the day, that is the primary purpose of this blog.

The secondary purpose is to raise awareness of anorexia in boys, like the two recent TV interviews, each of which came about as a result of my blog.

Yes, one might call that 'publicity', but I call it 'raising awareness'. The more the real issues and facts of eating disorders are brought before the public eye, the better - especially with so much misinformation out there about EDs, the kind of thing you read about in sensationalist glossy magazines.

Ben doesn't read this blog. He chooses not to. And Ben isn't his real name. In fact I don't use any real names in this blog apart from references to relevant professionals, etc. ('Batty Matty' is my school nickname!)

But, as I said in my last blog post, when you suddenly find yourself on this devastating journey as a parent of a boy with anorexia, it can be so reassuring to know that others have been along this road too. To know what they went through, what signs they should have looked out for, what worked and what didn't, how they successfully handled particular situations - and how they failed, but dusted themselves down the next day and started all over again. And how they got the strength to do it.

Most importantly, how their child responded to treatment and family support - and how, ultimately, the main thing that helped Ben get through this was the fact I was always there for him, talking with him, encouraging him, developing our very successful Recovery Contract and so on. I'm not saying this to boast or project myself as some kind of awesome Super Mum, but simply putting down on paper what Ben said to me recently and which he also says in that Oxford Uni project.

This - and raising awareness of eating disorders in boys - is what this blog is about, and why I believe it is a Good Thing.

And also why it has 18 year old Ben's full and unconditional blessing.

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