... For Ben to successfully manage working in the local deli / cafe over the Friday lunchtime shift today, to still get the right number of calories into him today and to go to Phab this evening. Why do all three things add up to Super Challenge of the Day at this stage in Ben's recovery from anorexia? Here's why...
This week Ben began his first paid job in the local deli / cafe. So far he's done a morning shift and an afternoon shift, but today is the first lunchtime shift. And - because it's Friday lunchtime, the busiest day of the week - it will be a baptism of fire for him. But not only for the reasons that "normal" people might assume i.e. coping with the stress of working in a busy cafe on their busiest lunchtime of the week.
Ben didn't sleep last night. The old familiar insomnia was back as his mind did somersaults through the dark hours working out how he was going to manage his eating today given that he's working 10am to 2pm and will also need to have an early evening meal to get to Phab on time.
Not only this, but he'll be surrounded by people eating and the urge for him to stuff his face with food, too, will be strong - not to mention the out of control feeling that, if he did, he might not be able to stop. And meanwhile he needs to ensure he gets some proper lunch of his own at some point.
Okay, he's coped with people eating and buying food on the other shifts - and it was he that chose to apply to cafes for work - but lunchtime is different, especially Friday lunchtime. The urge for "flight" will be incredibly strong... And he knows if he does, then his new job - the paid job he fought so hard to get - will be in jeopardy. Not to mention the fact that this kind of issue, at this stage in his recovery, bothers Ben a lot. "Fight" instead of "flight" will be difficult.
Being tired as a result of no sleep always sends his mood plummeting. And I anticipate he will attempt to get out of going to Phab this evening, using the excuse that he's tired and he needs to eat his evening meal later than 6pm.
So the Super Challenge of the Day, I told him, is to get through today, doing everything that must be done.
In life, I said, he will be faced with days when he can't have lunch at a set time and in a comfortable, cosy environment. University lectures might run over lunch, so might business meetings and so on. Having your lunch "on the hop" is a skill he needs to learn in order to cope with days like these. And today is a great opportunity to practice.
I told him I will be immensely proud of him if he manages it all - and I'll give him extra "points" (our contract). The anorexia has stolen so much from his life already, I told him, it's time to fight back and show the world (and himself) that he can stick two fingers up at the remnants of the eating disorder, especially at this stage in recovery.
Meanwhile, Batty is anxious. But Batty mustn't show any anxiety should Ben not manage to see the Super Challenge through. Batty must remain calm, collected, positive and supportive using all those skills learned at the FEAST conference last week.
My latest mantra is "What Would Gill Todd Do?" (or say). Those who were at the conference will know that Gill Todd is the most awesome coach when it comes to teaching parents and carers the skills to deal with their child's eating disorder. The kind of skills / comments / questions that have been proven to work.
And never forget that if it doesn't turn out and Ben needs to go through this experience again, he will have learned from whatever the outcome is today. As Gill said, sometimes you feel as if you're going round and round - revolving doors - yet never forget that every time you get back to a certain point again both you and, more importantly, your child has learned from this experience last time round
Watch this space for news on how it went...