If the 'me' of Christmas 2009 could have looked into a crystal ball and seen our family Christmas of 2013, I would have positively exploded with hope. Christmas 2009 was the first Christmas that ED, the eating disorder demon, sat alongside us, uninvited, at Christmas Dinner (and all the other Christmas meals and festivities). Yesterday, on Christmas Day 2013, I can proudly say that the eating disorder was nowhere to be seen. And I hope that our experience of emerging from an eating disorder, will offer other families hope for the future.
Ben was 20 on the 23rd December and we celebrated at Pizza Express, just as any normal family would celebrate a birthday. Ben cooked a fantastic turkey pilaff for our evening meal on Christmas Eve along with assorted snacks. And, meanwhile, he worked his way through various boxes of chocolates and a chocolate advent calendar.
Then, on Christmas Day, Ben cooked the entire Christmas dinner with all the trimmings - and it was absolutely perfect. This was followed by Ben's home-made sticky toffee pudding with toffee sauce and ice-cream. He had at least two helpings.
Then, in the evening, we shared some savoury snacks (indeed he insisted on MORE than I'd originally planned). And then Ben had not one, but TWO puddings in quick succession, just like he does every day these days. Oh, and he roasted chestnuts on the open fire, gathered in the woods on Christmas morning when the three of us went for a brisk walk in the sunshine.
And all without an ounce of anxiety. It was a normal, happy family Christmas - the eating disorder well and truly kicked out of our lives.
Christmasses 2009, 2010 and 2011 (to a certain extent) all saw the eating disorder putting a damper on the festivities. 2009 and 2010 were especially bad.
Truly awful, in fact.
Back then I could never have imagined in my wildest dreams that my stick-thin and anorexia-engulfed son would come through this devastating illness - and that we would have a perfect, eating disorder free Christmas.
What was on Ben's (entirely home-cooked) festive menu yesterday?
Slow-cooked braised venison in a rich red wine, onion & mushroom gravy (we decided to give the turkey a miss this year), fruit & nut stuffing, posh pigs in blankets (i.e. posh chipolata sausages wrapped in bacon), red Brussels sprouts and sliced carrots tossed in herby butter, turmeric & polenta roasted potatoes, redcurrant & port jelly, and horseradish sauce, followed by the sticky toffee pud!
Here's to HOPE for all families battling with a young person with an eating disorder. They can come through it and you will enjoy the best Christmas you've ever had. Just like we've just done.