Monday 17 December 2012

A thumping good use for a spare £100!

As you know, Saturday's psych session cost me £100 and any subsequent sessions with her would have cost me £100. So, as Ben refuses point blank to have any more sessions with her or with anyone else (and no I don't have a spare £100 to fritter away on whatever I wish, I am not dripping in money by any stretch of the imagination)... I had a lightbulb moment earlier this morning...

During the past 3 years I have learned almost as much about eating disorders and the science behind them as many clinicians, I suspect. I don't mean the experts like Janet Treasure et al, but general clinicians. I know for a fact, for instance, that I know masses more about eating disorders than my GP and various other people I've met on this journey.

Cramming my poor already-overloaded brain with all this stuff about anorexia was a huge learning curve. Not one I chose to follow but one which I had no choice but to jump in at the deep end around this time 3 years ago and cram up on all the information I could find in a bid to learn about what it was that was destroying my son - and what I, as a parent, could practically do about it, especially as, at the time, we were faced with an 18-22 week wait for treatment with CAMHS and were left to our own devices. Or, rather, the devices of the evil ED which was doing its level best to drag my son down the rabbit hole.

This learning curve has continued by reading literature, mixing with other parents and experts on eating disorders, being an active member of FEAST UK and its forum, Around The Dinner Table, which is a mine of information, with many of its members having direct access to some of the world's best and most knowledgeable eating disorder experts and clinicians, literature, research, etc.

For instance I am, as we speak, reading what I now believe to be one of the most important books on the science behind eating disorders that I've ever seen. And I know others will agree with me. If you want to know about eating disorders and why they do what they do and - most importantly - why you, as a parent, are NOT TO BLAME, then get someone to give you Carrie Arnold's Decoding Anorexia for Christmas. (Expensive, but worth every penny, especially if you've ever wasted money on other ED books.)

Anyway... back to what I was on about... As a result of this massive enforced learning curve, I was able to help my son recover from his eating disorder. I learned the proven techniques and the science behind his anorexia. No, I didn't bring around his recovery exclusively, we had help from CAMHS, of course. But, on occasions, I found myself steering his treatment towards what I felt would be more helpful for him - a prime example being the Recovery Contract which worked wonders and turned months of weight loss into months of weight gain. (Inspired by similar contracts on the FEAST website.) After all, we parents know our kids!

So, if my son refuses to have any more professional treatment because he thinks that "all clinicians are f*cking useless" (quote from what he said to the psych on Saturday) and "talk f*cking b*llocks" and "just delve into your f*cking past and f*cking useless stuff like that", then why shouldn't I use the money I squirrelled away for potential private treatment to pay for manuals, work books and so on so I can learn how to give him the best and most useful therapy myself? After all, I know my son better than anyone. And - thank God - for the past 24 months he has been listening to me. If I choose the right moment, that is. Our "walks and talks" are usually the best times - and when we do the Contract.

Blimey, I could get a bundle of self-help books, manuals, etc for just one session with that psych.

In an ideal world, Ben would read them and help himself. But I know Ben and I know he won't bother. Because Ben always "knows best". Like he did on Saturday morning.

So I will read and digest them myself and converse with him accordingly.

No wonder they say that "Family Based Therapy" is the best!

PS And in case you hadn't gathered, Batty's emotions are on a roller coaster this weekend. My frustration with eating disorders, "the system", my son's "poor me" attitude and just about everything else is making me want to thump something!  

But - unlike in the Bad Old ED Days when I used to impotently thump anything within my reach when I was angry and frustrated (walls, mirrors, bins...) - Batty doesn't thump things, she takes action.


  1. I am so pleased that you are taking the next step in helping Ben recover from his ED. I think it's much better to follow your intuition, as evidently it has been correct more often than not! My mum has been as loving and caring, as well as helpful, than any doctor or psychologist. She knows me, and knows what is ED, what is my own stress surrounding my allergies I suffer from (anaphylaxis to eggs and shellfish amongst minor reactions to numerous allergens because of my eczema).

    I am so deeply interested in the scientific side of anorexia nervosa, as well as ED's as a subject, that I could swear I've read as much as the average ED mum! haha :) Just as a side note: I have been actively engaged in my own recovery for a long time, admittedly I have suffered lapses but that doesn't mean deep down I don't want to get better!

    As of 2011 I have been doing work surrounding the stigma of ED's and how misunderstood they are in society, I hosted a forum of 300+ people at a very publicised festival, alongside my psychologist who I worked closely with then (mind you I was 14 then!!)

    There are some other books I have found to be comforting, namely 'Biting Anorexia' by Lucy Howard Taylor (although it could be triggering for Ben, as it doesn't gloss over the gritty bits, and has excerpts of her journal at her worst and throughout recovery) and another '8 Keys to Beating Your ED' though you should probably read it beforehand to see if it's relevant/appropriate.

    I got the Kindle version of Decoding Anorexia but bugger me to get the kindle to work :P

    I wish you the best and please remember you are his best ally!! I could not live without my mum's help, love, and cooking. We didn't do Maudsley but I think you don't need it if the patient is willing to beat their ED too. There are always special cases.

    One message I have for Ben:

    The food obsession will go, the obsession about obsession will go. Anorexia is very, very sneaky and it may not appear to be influencing you, but this is not the case. Your mum knows what she's talkin' about! Recovery is worth it! You have to keep feeding your brain i.e. EAT BUTTER DAMN IT for the obsession to go and to open space for studies, education, friends, love, video games etc. etc. If your brain isn't fed, it will only think about food. Your body-composition will also steady out once you let loose of the idea of 'calories in vs. out' and recovery as a project. Life is your project; recovery is the complement on the side. You will get there!

    1. Oh this is such a great reply to my blog, Sarah, thank you so much for taking the time to write it all. It really is great - and I will read Ben the message!!!! xxxx