Tuesday 13 August 2013

Five hours of putting things to rights, from both sides of The Pond

With our already rip-off UK rail fares set to rise yet again, I was lucky enough to stumble across some really cheap last minute tickets to London. So yesterday - Monday - I hopped on the train to Kings Cross where I was met by one of the mums who contributed to When Anorexia Came To Visit. Then a quick tube train to Liverpool Street Station where we met up with Becky Henry who'd been to Norwich to visit the eating disorder charity, BEAT. Then another tube to Covent Garden (where Becky was alarmed to discover the only route to the surface was via lifts / elevators or a spiral staircase). After that, we sat down and talked until early evening when I had to leave to get my train back. What a day!

Each of us is part of the wider global network of parents, counsellors and therapists that are doing their level best to advocate for better awareness, better funding and better treatment for eating disorders for our sons and daughters. It was great to share and compare our experiences of eating disorder treatment here in the UK with Becky's experiences in the States. And each of us is keen to promote the experience from the family perspective. In other words, what it's really like to struggle to get your son or daughter through an eating disorder at home, beyond the confines of the consulting room.

As parents, we know our children best. We've known them since birth. And, when they are sick with anorexia, bulimia, EDNOS or whatever eating disorder they may be suffering from, we are the ones that care for them round the clock. But we are aware that families don't always get the recognition and support they so desperately need - and, in too many cases, parents - who, increasingly in more enlightened circles, are being recognised as an essential part of eating disorder treatment - are being instructed to back off and leave everything to the professionals.

The three of us shared good experiences and not-so-good experiences. I talked about some of the good examples of excellent eating disorder treatment described by some of the families in my book, When Anorexia Came To Visit. There is one story in particular which stands out as a really great example of how eating disorder treatment should be approached.

The other mum talked about how the University of California San Diego is achieving excellent success rates through its intensive (although expensive) family therapy programmes. I said what I have said over and over again which is: "Call me naive, but if there are outstanding treatment models out there that are achieving unprecedented high levels of success, then why the heck are they not being rolled out everywhere?"

To me it makes sense that if something is working, then other healthcare providers should do their level best to copy it.

I am sure that this is naive old lay mum me saying this, because - if it was possible - then it would have been done.


I talked about my concern at discovering that other parents in my city, struggling with children who are seriously ill with an eating disorder, have never heard of Janet Treasure, the Maudsley Approach, Lock & LeGrange and so on and so forth. Why on earth are parents not being referred to these resources? Or to any resources for that matter?

Anyway, yesterday, I was thrilled to hand over a copy of When Anorexia Came To Visit. Two, actually, one for the mum to give to Norman Lamb, UK Minister of State at the Department of Health, when she meets with him shortly.

I also gave Becky a copy, because she wrote the Preface for the book - and my book was inspired by her book: Just Tell Her to Stop: Family Stories of Eating Disorders.

Well, we talked and talked... for five hours... It was the most amazing day.

And I am really glad that I got discount rail tickets, because if I'd paid the full £98 return I would have been really naffed off by the fact that the return train was late, it was crammed full to the rafters and all on-board refreshments had been cancelled.

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