Sunday 6 January 2013

So freaking negative...

I am fed up. Fed up with working like a Trojan to help my son reach recovery from his eating disorder while being faced with someone who is so incredibly negative about the outcome - and life in general - that, frankly, I wonder why the hell I bother. It's not in my nature to give up. After all, this has been my life for the past three-and-a-half years. But, by heck, sometimes I feel like doing so.

We had our "chat" this lunchtime about exercising. The upshot is that he always exercises like this, every day, within the agreed exercise contract parameters. Sometimes he will do it at 7am and at other times he'll do it earlier - or later - depending on when he wakes up.

"No, I don't like doing it; I hate it," he said. "But if I don't do it I will get fat, purely and simply because I like eating. You'd be amazed at how little other people eat, which is why they don't get fat. But those that like food in the way I do get fat or obese. This is why I have to do it and I've been doing it for the past four years. Good God, I've just put on a kilo - and that's by eating low fat stuff and exercising! Imagine if I'd eaten fatty foods and sat around all day!!"

Hmn, I thought, we're onto a loser here...

And I was right.

So I moved on to preparations for University, if - indeed - he feels ready to go this September. Would he feel better taking another year out? No, he wouldn't, he couldn't bear another year treading water and doing nothing.

Okay, so would a transfer to our local university be easier, I wondered? "No," he said, "Because it's a worse course - and I don't want to go there. But on the other hand I can't live away from home. Just being on my own, without you two [mum and dad] for a few hours sends my mood plummeting. When you lot went out to Haworth last Sunday and I stayed home alone, I found it really difficult to deal with. The thought of living in a university room, on my own, is like my worst nightmare." And that's even if he comes home for half of each week.

He also said that, if he went to our local university, "I risk never leaving home and getting 'out there'. I will still be here, sitting with you two in front of the telly with no friends or social life, when I'm 50".

I asked him about the idea of commuting for the first term, but he said he knew that would be "a pain in the ar*e" and he would hate that, too.

So what about lodging with someone, for instance my sister's Sheffield friends, for the days he needed to be at University for lectures. No, he said, he'd hate that too.

So does he actually want to go to University? Yes, he does, because he loves to study and he knows he needs qualifications to do what he wants in life.

"So what do you suggest?" I asked, at the end of my tether but desperately trying to appear calm, laid-back and "dolphinesque", and trying to draw on those questioning techniques I'm supposed to be fine-tuning.

"I have no idea," he said. "Because all the options are sh*t. And thanks for making me feel sh*t, mum."

I told him my aim wasn't to make him feel sh*t but to explore where he is at the moment. Planning for university - or not - is something we need to be thinking about in the coming months, sooner rather than later, unfortunately. Also, I told him I've been aware that his mood hasn't been so brilliant over the past month or so.

"And I hate going to Phab," he added. "Going there makes me feel cr*p."

"But what about those nice girls you met there? The girls that invited you out on bonfire night (which you went to) and ice skating and bowling (which you didn't)?"

"They're not real friends. You talk to them and you just get one word answers. I must have some kind of aura about me that screams out to people, 'Back off!!'"

Oh b*gger, I thought to myself, and then thought to myself again.

Why is he so freaking negative about everything? Especially when I try so freaking hard?


  1. Eek, that sounds so hard to deal with! I remember you saying in one of your previous posts that Ben came off his prozac very suddenly - how recent was that? Going cold turkey from antidepressants can destablise people for months and months afterwards. It can cause huge mood swings, extreme anxiety, poor impulse control, an uptick in self destructive thoughts and behaviours and so on. I know Ben still has problems, but I'm wondering if this is contributing. It might be worth suggesting going back on the medication as an experiment for six weeks or so (shortest time it can really be expected to make a difference). I'm usually not a fan of SSRIs because they made me and several of my other friends impressively crazy, but going cold turkey on them is enough to make anyone feel like utter shite for a good long while.

    I know what it's like to be on the giving and receiving end of those sorts of relentlessly negative thoughts, and neither is pleasant. Ben sounds really hopeless. It must be really hard not to take it personally, but it sounds like he's just lashing out. Having to defer or drop out of university and watch all your peers sailing off into their futures seemingly without a problem really knocks your confidence. Having done this repeatedly I know it all too well :P and I have also been guilty of becoming very self absorbed and irritable when I've felt really depressed. It might be a reason, but it's not an excuse, and maybe it might give Ben pause for thought if you tell him that you can tell he's feeling bad, but that you are there to help, not to be a dumping ground for all his anger. Being assertive is so important, as long as you can make sure you come across as challenging his behaviour rather than attacking him as a person. I'm sure you know all of that anyway, since you have ninja carers skills Batty ;)

    1. Thanks, Katie, lovely and helpful reply, as always. xxxx

  2. Hi,
    My name is Kate and I am in recovery from anorexia and have been for almost two years now. I have attempted college several times since leaving residential treatment (I spent 2 years in residential/inpatient treatment here in the US). School is such a hard environment for me. It was hard for me to be away from my parents, hard for me to make friends, hard to keep eating like I should (especially b/c I can't cook and didn't have access to a dining hall - not that I would have used that especially at the beginning of my recovery). I often felt like it seems like Ben was describing. Nothing was good enough. No situation was ok. I am sure I drove my mother crazy by shooting down every idea she had. I often felt so panicked at any idea of change that NOTHING was okay no matter what kind of idea it was. It could be the best idea in the world and would work perfectly but b/c it would be out of my comfort zone I could think of a zillion different ways it wouldn't work. And it all stemmed from fear, panic and anxiety.

    What ended up happening to me was that I have tried school on several different occasions. Most recently this past fall (when Ben was trying it as well). I lasted two weeks before finally making the decision that school was not for me at this time in my life. It was the first time I had made that decision and not my fears. I had tried college two other times when I was new in recovery and had always ended up dropping out because of relapse or fear but this time I knew school just wasn't for me. Anyways, what ended up happening was that I moved home. However, I did not move into my parents house. I found an apartment that was about five minutes away and moved into it. I have my own place, some independence. I receive aid from the government so I can afford my own groceries (although I still eat one meal a day with my family) and can pay part of my own rent. I wish I had done this before even attempting school. It would have been the perfect transition to living on my own. I could go home when I was in crisis but also have my own place so I could be mature as is appropriate for my age (24). Alright, I rambled but I just wanted to share my experience and perhaps see if any of this would help you and Ben.