Back in March, I wrote a letter which I would love to have sent to Ben's friends, but of course never did. Instead I wrote it down here, in this blog. Now I feel that it's time for a second letter which I also will never send, and here it is...
Dear Ben's Friends,
Remember the letter I never sent you back in March? The one where I pleaded with you to invite Ben to social events again and welcome him back into your friendship group with open arms? The fantastic, big, strong group of friends which Ben was so much part of in the first four years of secondary school, before his anorexia took him away from you all?
The letter where I explained more about Ben's eating disorder and why it isolated him for so long - and also why it resulted in him behaving strangely and, often, in a frightening and distressing way?
The letter where I also explained just how punishingly tough it has been for him to make new friends and re-establish friendships with old friends, because of the extreme social anxiety that was a bi-product of his illness and which still remains?
Sadly, you all went your separate ways: to university or into careers. And, although you all continue to meet up now and again - the Christmas Eve get-together at the S Arms being a prime example - you rarely invite Ben.
It is as if he never existed.
The boy who was so central to your social circle and who everyone liked so very much.
Instead, Ben has to find out from Facebook, via various uploaded photographs, that these get-togethers took place. Like Christmas Eve in the S Arms.
Everyone was there. The whole friendship group. Everyone. Except Ben.
And it hurts Ben exponentially.
And it hurts us, too.
It also hurt Ben that so few people wished him a Happy 20th Birthday, via Facebook, just before Christmas.
Perhaps you think that because Ben hasn't got in touch with you very much over the past year that he's having a fab time elsewhere, with a new group of friends. Maybe you feel he isn't interested in you anymore. Or, worse, maybe you have forgotten this young man who you all used to like so much.
The fact is that Ben still longs to get back with you all. Back to how it used to be. Okay you're no longer at school. But he misses you all a heck of a lot. And he misses the great times you all used to have during those first four years at secondary school.
But the thing is, he still finds it so very hard to make friends - and re-establish links with old ones.
So, next time you all meet up, please invite Ben.
As I said last time, Ben just wants to be treated like a normal guy.
More than anything else, he just longs to be the Ben he was before the illness struck.
It would mean so much to me if you could help this to happen?
Love from Ben's mum