Friday 8 March 2013

Why I feel numb

Three and a half years of living with an eating disorder and watching it systematically destroy my son's teenage years - all those years that parents have so many hopes and dreams about - has removed any ability I have to feel disappointed. Last September, when Ben left university, I felt deep disappointment and wanted to throttle the eating disorder for doing this to him, for smashing his hopes and dreams as well as ours.

But nowadays it's as if that part of my brain has become numb. The disappointment, sadness, anger and frustration is there, but it's like a noise in the distance, difficult to hear, difficult to feel. I just feel numb.

This time last year as Ben was discharged from CAMHS and began to "get his house in order" to kick the eating disorder out of his life for good, move on, start afresh at university and get on with his life, I really believed he could do it.

And, as you'll know if you've read about the excitement and positive anticipation I was feeling from mid August through to mid September, between getting his place at university and depositing him in his university residence, I was as thrilled as any parent.

But you will also know how sad it was to have to remove Ben from university so soon. How we fought to overcome his intense feelings of "failure" and the realisation that the remnants of the eating disorder were still messing up his life.

It's something he has struggled with since then. And I could tell that he still wasn't completely convinced that he was ready to try university again. But I could also tell that he so very much wanted to get on and get to university, to begin studying again... Ben is passionate about studying... and to kick the ED out of his life for good.

Yesterday's experience in Sheffield has hit him hard. His mood is rock bottom and I can sense his own frustration, disappointment and anger that the eating disorder still has a certain hold over certain areas of his life. For example he still has the confusion generated when an eating disorder professional says something very different from what his parents - and everyone else - has been saying for so long.

It makes him wonder who is right. Is this nurse right? Were we, his parents, wrong all along?

Most important of all, it makes him wonder if by looking "fine" and "well" in her eyes, he actually looks fat and should put on the brakes as far as the weight gain goes. If he looks "fine" as he is, then why should he listen to mum who insists he needs to continue putting on weight?

Me, well, I've been kicked in the stomach by the eating disorder so many times that I feel kind of numb. Like people who are being beaten up who just lie there and let their assailant continue. Almost as if the inevitable is indeed inevitable. I can't have any excited hopes and dreams for my child because there's a high chance they simply won't happen. Because of what remains of the eating disorder.

And, at times like this, I wonder if these ED remnants are here to stay and f*ck up his life forever.


  1. I wish I could give you a hug.
    I don't think the remnants will stay this promiment forever. I just think it takes a long time for them to fade.
    Maybe all the appointments yesterday scared him or made him really worried or something, like it's facing the future and it all feels real and he's scared of it not working out?
    I don't know.
    Maybe it was a reminder of what happened last year?
    Is private housing not at the uni an option? I know I found that way better than halls.

  2. Batty, I really feel for both of you. I've just had my interview for uni (local) and find out the result in a few weeks. Personally, I feel like I will always have some kind of remnants, of the ED and of OCD/anxiety (which is currently still a big problem). It is so hard to accept that things haven't worked out the way I feel they should and it constantly feels like I'm almost embarrassed that I haven't done quite 'well enough'. Nothing is going as I so badly want it to but for now I'm just desperately trying to find some way through to where I want to be.
    You've worked incredibly hard and done so well to get where you are and just because things aren't as they should be, it doesn't mean it can't ever be or that there isn't some other way for you. Keep fighting x