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...
I'm not alone in 'going public' about our fight to get our teenage son fully recovered from anorexia. I know many other parents that write blogs and books, or get into the media, bringing eating disorders out of the closet and into the public eye - and, just as important, doing our small bit to help others facing a similar situation.
Right at the start, I had no ideas that boys got eating disorders. As the mother of a teenage boy, anorexia didn't feature on my radar. And I guess it must be the same for many parents of teenage boys. You simply don't expect anorexia. You don't event THINK about it.
No, I hadn't a clue that boys got anorexia which is why it took me quite a while before the horrific penny finally dropped.
Once I realised that Ben was developing the dreaded 'A' word, I was terrified. I felt isolated. I didn't know where to turn, what to do or what I should know. And yet the information I did find suggested that this could be a deadly condition - that people could and indeed do die from anorexia.
Yet, unlike cancer or another life-threatening illness, we weren't being fast-tracked into treatment or given advice. Indeed our GP was reluctant to refer Ben for treatment, and even when he did we were faced with a waiting list that could last for months.
Any desperate phone calls to the GP asking what I should do or where I could get interim help were met with a shrug of the shoulders and a look that must be so familiar to parents of boys with eating disorders that says "over-protective mother worrying about nothing". A look I've come to recognise over the years...
So if we weren't going to receive professional help for at least 5 months, I had to do something. I had to educate myself on everything I could find about eating disorders, and I had to do it quickly. And all this while struggling with a teenage son that was disappearing in front of my eyes.
The point is: I know how terrifying it is to discover your child has a potentially life-threatening condition and not knowing what to do or where to turn.
Right from the start I was acutely aware that I wanted to do my little bit to help parents just like me - not only to help direct them to useful websites like the Around the Dinner Table Forum (for parents of young people with eating disorders) and other information but to talk about my own experiences so they can see there is a light at the end of the tunnel.
I'm not a medical or mental health professional, but what I am is a genuine parent who not only cares about my son and his journey back to health but who also cares about other parents in my situation.
It is no different from a parent who writes a book on the topic and goes public.
It is no different from a parent who gets into the paper and goes public. It is no different from a parent who gets onto the TV and goes public.
All these experiences are out there in the 'public domain', and the very last thing that any of us is doing is 'exploiting' our children or using their illness to draw attention to ourselves. In fact most if not all of our children support us in what we're doing.
Imagine if all of us had simply sat back and done nothing? Even if we help just one parent fast-track their way through the massive ED learning curve and get some kind of useful help, we have done our job. And every time a parent contacts me to say how much this blog has helped them, I know it's serving its purpose.
Next time: Why I CONTINUE to write this blog...