So he made it! He got to the end of Intro Week at university and has come home for the weekend, for a breather and some 'space'. And it was a very happy, vibrant Ben that I picked up from the railway station yesterday evening followed by what seemed like hours of Ben recounting all the things he's done this week and people he's met. It could have been so very different, couldn't it?
Saturday, 28 September 2013
Friday, 27 September 2013
Even better, a 'game' where he has to guess what's on my list - and say it aloud (to reinforce the messages in his head). He gets points every time he gets something on my list - and extra when he comes up with positives that aren't there!
"Imagine a game where the prize is £1000 to spend on Warhammer products, however in order to win the £1K you are only allowed to make positive statements. Any negatives result in lost points. The idea is that you look back on the the week that's just gone and make statements about how it's been, what you've achieved, how you've felt, etc - but they have to be positive. OK, let's start..."
Thursday, 26 September 2013
Up we go... woosh! Down we go... lurch! Then up again... And all the time feeling sick to the pit of our stomachs about what's going to happen next. This week sure is turning out to be a rollercoaster, but - thus far - both Ben and I have managed to keep Ben hanging on in there and on track. From what I can see from the pics someone's posted on his FB page, yesterday afternoon was a 'high' on the rollercoaster stakes. Let's hope things stay up there for a while... or longer...
Wednesday, 25 September 2013
So I got a phone call at 9am from Ben, so upset I couldn't tell what he was saying, so I had to ask him to breathe and repeat slowly. It seems that this morning he had what turned out to be a phishing email from someone pretending to be Student Finance England and he provided them with all the details they asked for (ouch!)... only to get an email a few mins later from the uni warning that a phishing email was going round, by which time it was too late. He was beside himself, so I calmed him down as best I could and called his bank to put a block on everything, followed by student finance. Then I grabbed my car keys and drove down to Sheffield where we spoke to student finance's fraud team and went to the uni branch of his bank to sort everything out. By lunchtime everything was duly sorted out. New bank account being set up and new student finance log-in, etc. Phew.
Tuesday, 24 September 2013
Today was the day I drove down to Sheffield with some extra things for Ben and an opportunity to touch base with him. It began with a pretty depressed Ben meeting me in the student residences car park. I dropped off the stuff and we walked down to the cosy cafe in the Botanical Gardens, which is the cafe we sat in last year (if you've read Please eat... it's the cafe where he broke down in tears about hating being at uni - and so did I...)
Monday, 23 September 2013
It's September 1977 and I'm en route to Sheffield Polytechnic to begin an HND in Business Studies. I couldn't get into halls of residence and so - after looking around at some truly awful accommodation including one flat which was basically just a room with 3 or 4 bunk beds! - me and a girl from my school found a flat owned by a rather unpleasant (and, worse still, racist) lady called Mrs M. (Who, being racist, made sure we were white females before allowing us to sign the tenancy agreement.) Unfortunately there were literally no other options, so we had no choice but to move into the dreadful Mrs M's poky little flat.
We didn't get 'the phone call' until 6pm, but immediately I recognised the tone... Exactly like last year... Ben rock bottom and in tears, with a small voice with short "Mmn"s every so often... He couldn't be bothered to go out to the event at the Union "because it will probably be sh*t". He had "nothing in common with his flatmates", those he's seen. "Two of them keep themselves to themselves with their room doors shut." He hasn't been to see his friend W who's moved into the student flats down the road "because he's going to a paid event this evening with his new flatmates". Etc etc etc etc...
Sunday, 22 September 2013
So... There we were, doing a repeat of last September which felt kind of weird. Same apartment complex, different block / flat, bigger room - nice and sunny, with 2 windows, a fridge, sink, 2 hobs, double bed and large bathroom, plus shared kitchen / living area with 4 other boys. We met one of the boys who seemed nice, if quiet (and looking oh so lost!!!), and his parents. Yet, predictably, our son just sat in his room, unpacking in complete silence before sitting at his desk, logging onto the wi-fi, and gradually spiralling downwards into deep, dark depression.
Friday, 20 September 2013
Without a crystal ball I can't possibly predict how university is going to turn out - in this, Ben's second attempt, starting tomorrow. I've been keeping a bit of a low profile on the topic because, well, that's just the way it seemed to pan out. Remember how I was so excited last year? Packing stuff and excitedly discussing intro week events, buying tickets for Ben to go to events and so on? Well, this year I've done none of that. Apart from dragging out last year's luggage which has been stashed away under various beds, on shelves and in the spare room, and going through it, I've done very little. Except the odd bit of nagging e.g. "Have you found out when W is moving in?" (W is an old friend from school who left at the end of the 5th form and is going to Sheffield, too.)
Monday, 16 September 2013
It's made me quite teary, actually, when I think of how many people responded to my blog yesterday when I was feeling cr*p. I am so grateful to have such a wonderful network of virtual and real people (I know, you're all 'real', but you know what I mean...) I am feeling so much better today, especially after a swim, sauna and session in the jacuzzi (even if I did get told off by the pool attendant for sitting in it 'too soon'!)
Sunday, 15 September 2013
I only wish I knew. Which is why I'm booking back in with the counsellor I saw for a number of sessions last year when things were getting a bit too much like a cat's cradle inside my head. This, and the fact that I'm just getting over a goddamn awful bout of gastroenteritis (yuk!), and the fact we were on holiday last week, is why I've been keeping a low profile recently. But I decided it's time to put pen to paper again, so to speak.
Saturday, 7 September 2013
Dear Bev, I am writing to you from the BBC Radio 4 programme ‘Woman’s Hour’. Next week we are doing a mini-series about parent bloggers. Next Wednesday we will be looking at campaign bloggers – bloggers who use their blogs to publicise specific issues related to bringing up children. Your blog about your son’s anorexia really struck a chord. Would you be free to come on the programme? Would you be free to have a chat over the phone? My number is XXXXXXXXXXXXXX. It would be great to hear from you. All the best,
Thursday, 5 September 2013
I'm not sure whether or not I'm still being interviewed on Woman's Hour next week. The other week I was also interviewed for a piece for the Mail Online and spent ages on the phone to their reporter, but I haven't heard any further. Then, a year ago, Ben and I spent an afternoon being filmed for Sky TV news and nothing came of that, either. Are we just bad at being interviewed, simply not photogenic, or is the issue about boys and young men with eating disorders just "not news"? Mind you, we are still appearing on BBC's Inside Out later on this month along with Sam Thomas of Men Get Eating Disorders Too and various experts.
Wednesday, 4 September 2013
I have a clear memory of being with my mum in our kitchen at home, some time in the early 1960s. We'd just had lunch, it was a freezing cold day and the coal fire was blazing away in the kitchen grate. I was probably painting some exotic work of art at the time, aged around 3 or 4, and my mum was listening to Woman's Hour on what was then the Home Service. If my memory serves me right, Woman's Hour was always preceded by a children's story - Listen With Mother - which I used to await with excitement every day. At such a young age, Woman's Hour wasn't quite so exciting, but my mum used to listen to it religiously. And now I have been invited to be a guest on Woman's Hour (which is still going strong all these years later). I must tell my 86-year old mum when I get back from Devon.
Tuesday, 3 September 2013
Four-and-a-half years ago, Ben, my H and I did a 9 mile circular walk around some of Dartmoor's more challenging terrain. It was the spring bank holiday week in 2009 and already the seeds of Ben's eating disorder were beginning to germinate in his mind. The only problem was that none of us realised this was happening; not me, not my H and not Ben himself. Today we did the same walk and got talking about what was going on in Ben's head during those early days.