Back in the summer of 2009 when my son, Ben, began to show classic signs of anorexia, I had no idea that boys got eating disorders. As a result I didn’t recognise the warning signs. I knew something was wrong and that it appeared to be getting worse, but I had no idea what “it” was. As the parent of a teenage boy you don’t expect your child to get anorexia. You don’t even think about it.
Once my husband and I realised what we were dealing with it took weeks before we were able to get a referral from our GP for treatment. After that we were faced with a wait of 18-22 weeks for an initial assessment with CAMHS (Child & Adolescent Mental Health Services).
So, if Ben hadn't been rushed into hospital at the end of January 2010, it could have been Easter 2010 before his treatment commenced.
That is a hell of a long time from first symptoms emerging to eventual treatment.
And, meanwhile, we watched helplessly as our son disappeared off a precipice.
Worse, Ben's illness had been germinating for months before the summer of 2009, maybe even years...
Yet we simply didn't notice because it took us by complete surprise.
And I don't for a moment believe that our experience is unique.
Because I want to avoid other families having to go through a similar wait before their child gets treatment, I want to raise awareness of (a) identifying the warning signs, (b) getting GPs to take swift action and (c) the waiting times experienced by families for CAMHS (and similar) treatment in the UK.
My new book, Recognising ED, will comprise approx 20 families' accounts from when they first realised something was wrong with their child through to GP referral. I want to give a balanced picture, if possible - good as well as bad.
But to do this I need to talk to UK families. So far I have five on board.
If you would be willing to talk to me, in confidence, over the phone about your experiences with a view to being included in my book - anonymously, of course - I would love to hear from you.
This is such an important issue and I believe this book will not only help other families but also help to raise awareness of problems that families have faced with getting referred.
Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org