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.
All I know at the moment is that Woman's Hour want to talk to me (and presumably others) about my blog (and their blogs): campaign blogs about bringing up children; blogs that make a difference. I know that my blog has made a difference to many families, because of the feedback I get. And some of the mums who've contacted me are now close friends who I meet up with every now and then, when I happen to be in their neck of the woods or if they're in mine.
I started writing my blog in January 2011. The aim is, and always was, to help other families, primarily parents of boys with eating disorders because there is still precious little awareness out there that boys can get eating disorders just like girls. I want to help other families to identify the warning signs of an eating disorder early and take swift action, because the sooner they get help, the sooner their son can get on the road to recovery.
I also want to raise awareness of gaps in The System: those areas where treatment for, and diagnosis of, eating disorders could, and indeed should, be improved. And to help parents to demand good, modern, 21st century, evidence-based treatment for their children rather than outdated approaches that should have been thrown out with the Ark. And I want to show families that neither they nor their child are to blame for the eating disorder. Eating disorders are biologically based brain illnesses, not lifestyle choices. And they are not caused by "bad parenting".
As with my book Please eat... this blog tells our story - how my son descended into anorexia and eventually recovered, and the strategies and resources we found helpful, for example the wonderful Around The Dinner Table Forum for parents of young people with eating disorders which many families insist was - and is - a lifesaver.
I don't just get contacted by parents of boys with eating
disorders; I get feedback from parents of girls, and people suffering or
recovered from eating disorders, and not just in the UK but across the
Of course my blog is just one of many written by parents of young people with eating disorders. All of us do it for the same reason: because we don't want other families to have to go through the nightmare experience we went through. And part of that nightmare experience was lack of awareness which meant we didn't identify our son's eating disorder sooner and the GP didn't diagnose and refer our son sooner, for the same reasons. Plus the long wait for treatment - and the fighting I had to do once treatment began, and so on and so forth.
I don't want any family to go through what we went through, and this is why I write my blog.