Today I sent the following letter to BBC's Breakfast programme and will be doing a version of it for other media - to get across the messages conveyed in When Anorexia Came To Visit.
Eating disorders in boys – and the problems that other families experience when struggling with this potentially deadly illness
I am the mother of a 19 year old boy who has now recovered following a four-year battle with anorexia. In March I published a book describing our harrowing story in order to help other families of boys with eating disorders. (“Please Eat… A mother’s struggle to free her teenage son from anorexia” by Bev Mattocks is available on Amazon.)
As part of my drive to raise awareness of eating disorders in boys and to help other families, I also write a popular blog and have guest-blogged for top eating disorder and healthcare websites across the globe.
In July I published a second book “When Anorexia Came To Visit” (also on Amazon) which describes the stories of 20 other families struggling with (primarily) anorexia.
Not only am I keen to raise awareness of this book in order to help other families identify the warning signs sooner, take prompt action and demand effective treatment, but I – and the book’s 20 contributing families – feel strongly that this book needs to be read by healthcare practitioners and providers from GPs upwards.
This is because this book also highlights gaps in “the system” that need to be addressed, from the GP with little training in mental health who fails to diagnose an eating disorder through to the patchy nature of treatment for adolescents with eating disorders in the UK.
Importantly, it also highlights what goes on at home, beyond the confines of the consulting room, as stable homes transform into a battleground with parents fighting to save their child from this most deadly of mental illnesses.
In addition, it’s important for the world to realise that parents are not to blame for their child’s eating disorder; indeed studies are finding that families can play a central role in successful treatment. Yet all too often the finger of blame is still being pointed at ordinary, loving, functional families who are fighting tooth and nail to get their child well. And on top of this, parents live with the undeserved feeling of guilt that they “failed” to notice the early warning signs and take action sooner.
The book includes a Foreword by Professor Janet Treasure OBE PhD FRCP FRCPsych, Director of the Eating Disorder Unit and Professor of Psychiatry at Kings College London.
I have attached a PDF version of the book with simple hyperlinks so you can get a quick flavour of its contents.
Then I, and possibly one of the mums who has contributed to the book, would be delighted to appear on your show to talk more about these issues.