It's been a hell of a year in so many ways. Thankfully, despite slow progress and the odd blip (some more blip-ish than others!) if you met Ben right now you would think he is a normal boy looking forward to his 19th birthday tomorrow (movie and a meal) and to Christmas with his family. This week he hasn't appeared anxious; indeed he's been relatively chilled. This is fantastic news, especially after last weekend. But what about this year, hey?
First, in February my dad finally passed away after a long illness. Despite this, it was a shock and I really do miss him this Christmas, even though - as a quiet man - he always took a back seat over the festive season. What I do remember acutely, though, is when I was a child at Christmas. Dad would be off work for a week and I have memories of building snowmen with him in the garden, painting together (he was very creative) and listening to him read stories to me. He loved the Just so stories by Rudyard Kipling; my favourite - which I used to get him to read over and over again - was the Elephant's child. And I suspect it was dad that put together our Christmas stockings which miraculously appeared at the end of our beds - full - on Christmas morning.
In March, Ben was discharged from CAMHS because he'd reached 18. Also the psych was leaving on maternity leave. Despite our ups and downs with CAMHS over the 25 months we were with them, I felt - and still feel - as if we were being cut adrift in the ocean to fend for ourselves. It's one of the reasons why I believe Ben's recovery has been slower this year. Thankfully, the GP has just referred him for further mental health therapy.
My dear friend, Sue, passed away in May. I miss her, too, at this time of year. She and her husband spent last Christmas with us. She was getting increasingly anxious about having to buy, prepare and cook a Christmas meal, so I invited her round here instead. I have some lovely photos of seven of us at the dining room table on Christmas day: tiny Sue sitting by the window smiling - and, later, in the living room as we all exchanged gifts. I hope I helped to make her last Christmas special in some way...
2012 was the year that Ben did his A-levels and won his place at university. But it's also the year when he came back from university after just two days. At the moment I'm really not sure if he'll be ready to try again in 2013; it might need another year.
2012 is also the year when we spent quite a bit of money on private treatment for Ben without really achieving very much. It could have worked; only Ben wasn't really cooperating. Last weekend was a prime example. But, looking back, his behaviour wasn't unlike the behaviour occasionally exhibited at CAMHS, even long after "Ben turned a corner". He'd often get into a heck of a mood during the sessions and I have a hunch it was because he didn't feel the discussions were relevant. I know he especially hated (and hates) it when therapists delve back into his past to find a "cause" for the anorexia.
2012 is the year when I completed the first proof of my book: Please eat... I have two printed proofs sitting in front of me as I write. But I'm not publishing it yet. Having been through my 2011 blog posts in detail recently (with a view to publishing them), my book seems really "flat" in places. It still needs a bit of work. Hey ho... I've been working on it for a year!!! I've just sent off for a printed proof of my 2011 blog posts which will make a useful reference tool for editing / expanding Please eat....
Why am I published my 2011 blog posts? Because the PDF on the right is really too long to print out and I thought it might be easier for people to read it and refer to it in book-form. Later in the year I'll publish the 2012 posts in the same way. And, following that, I plan to publish my own teenage diary from the 1970s! Oh, and there's still a biography I've been working on for YEARS which needs writing up - nothing to do with eating disorders!