This is the question someone asked me yesterday - another mum of a teenage boy with anorexia whose recovery isn't as far advanced as Ben's. She also asked me why it was that everything seemed to be falling into place so quickly for us at the moment, mainly in regard to Ben's socialising which - as you will know - is something that's been a massive problem over the past years. I am sure she won't mind me giving you a version of my reply to her...
18 months ago would be the Christmas after Ben turned a corner in the October (2010). But he was still finding everything very hard. (As a reminder, Ben had had a heart scare in early October. CAMHS took this extremely seriously and said they wouldn't hesitate to hospitalise him if necessary i.e. if he continued to decline. This put the fear of God into Ben and prompted a complete U-turn.)
Following this, Ben's attitude to recovery changed, but he was still completely imprisoned by the anorexia thoughts - in other words, he wanted to do stuff but "it" wouldn't let him. He was also trapped by a crazy amount of compulsive exercising. And he was still losing weight.
As a result, by the early spring of 2011, he'd reached a plateau and was incredibly frustrated and disillusioned with things, having tried so very hard to move towards recovery but finding so many obstacles in the way. I was worried he might give up - and no-one seemed to have a solution.
The first chink of light came when one of the CAMHS team probed into exactly how much exercise he was doing - a shocking amount, and it became painfully clear how completely and helplessly imprisoned he was by it. She suggested we write down daily limits over and above which he agreed not to go. Desperate to free himself from the shackles of the exercising, he agreed to give it a try. It wasn't easy, but he knuckled down and kept to his side of the bargain.
It was this, I guess, and the desperate feeling on my part that we needed something else to kickstart the recovery process that prompted me to search on the ATDT forum where - by chance - I came across a thread about contracts.
And the rest, as they say, is history.... (See tab at top of page for more info on our recovery contract.)
Earlier today I was thinking about the question as to why Ben seems to be improving so quickly all of a sudden. The answer is that everything just seems to be naturally falling into place. After such slow progress after so long, it seems kind of odd for this to happen, I guess, but it has.
But, of course, I am vigilent. Discreetly so, at this point. But I am vigilent. And I will continue to keep a watchful eye on things as Ben goes away to Uni next month.