Saturday 1 September 2012

Aren't our children amazing?

Okay, so although I had food issues as a teenager and 20-something, and okay I dabbled in a bit of bulimic behaviour on occasions, but - thankfully - I never developed a full-blown ED. Yes, I did have awful issues with men which I've described in recent posts, and yes writing about these made me feel vulnerable - like airing my dirty washing in public and opening a Pandora's box of stuff I've been trying to blank out all these years. But these "confessions" have also done something else... something really strange...

Admitting all this stuff honestly and out in the open, for all to see, made me realise how brave our own children when, like Ben, they "go public" about their own battles with eating disorders. Yes I know that one in four people will suffer from a mental health problem at sometime in their lives and, therefore, society should accept mental health problems as readily as they would a physical problem, for example disability.

But the fact is that mental health problems like eating disorders are still a fairly taboo subject that many people might prefer to hide under the carpet.

Admitting you've had  - or have - "issues" which "normal" people didn't have and which might shock "normal" people and make them think you're a bit weird and "a weak person" - well - this takes guts.

I am not saying I was brave in coming clean about all this stuff, I'm talking about our children and the way they're not afraid to talk openly about their battles with eating disorders.

For our children to openly admit to the world that they are suffering from anorexia or another eating disorder, and describe the complex and terrifying cognitive changes that are part and parcel of an eating disorder, is a bloody courageous thing to do.

Not only this but to admit there is a problem in the first place.

And then work like a Trojan to overcome it, made more difficult by the fact that the eating disorder constantly beckons you back into the false comfort zone of its clutches.

The point I'm trying to make here (probably not very successfully and I am sure you could do better) is that - for our children to (a) admit there is a problem, (b) talk about that problem in detail, often permitting us and mental health practitioners to delve into the deepest and most private recesses of their minds and (c) not be afraid to "go public" about it, like Ben has with my book, on TV and in the interview he did for Oxford University, or  like other people have done in their first-person published accounts, or when they fight for better eating disorder treatment - takes serious guts. Our children are amazing!

In fact I don't think there's a word in the English language which would describe their sheer strength of character.

They put "normal" people to shame.


  1. I wrote you a message the other day that Wordpress ssubsequently ate. I wanted to to express how brave I thought you were both then and now. You went through some pretty horrifying experiences and you survived. You survived and have passed that gene onto your son- survival against adversity. I read of your feelings of guilt and wanted to step through the screen and tell you 'No!'. You have been an outstanding mother and have shown sheer determination and tenacity. I had wondered about your struggles with food as you had once commented about how Ben's recovery diet had affected your own, obviously. Then when I saw you in person I couldn't help but admire your figure. Your words had led me to believe that you were so much bigger.
    I am managing my recovery from bulimia and anorexia and have children. That fact scares me as I have had to learn so much and struggle through so much and I don't want to pass it on to either of them. I work hard to portray a positive body image for them and to eat well. Fingers crossed that they don't follow my path.
    You are right it is brave to be public with your tale of a very misunderstood illness. Bravo for those that can.
    Tash x

  2. Batty,

    I had also wanted to ask how you deal with food now? Is your food identity tied up with Ben's still? By that I mean do you still eat similar things to Ben or are you able to be more relaxed with your own diet now?

    1. Thanks for your 2 really great replies, Tash. These recent posts also prompted an email from my sister who told me what she'd been thinking about me and my eating habits all those years ago...

      Interesting question, your second reply... I feel another blog post coming on... ;)

      Batty xx