Monday, 13 January 2014

Boadicea in her chariot, guns a-blazing in the fight against eating disorders and poor treatment

On the 9th March 2010, I discovered the Around The Dinner Table forum for parents of young people with eating disorders. It was like an oasis in a desert. I immediately posted my first post there and, within moments, the second parent to respond was a lady I came to know as 'cjbSuffolk'.

Very quickly, over the next few days, weeks and months, I came to know this lady as 'Charlotte' because she often couldn't be bothered with going incognito. And, anyway, how could anyone go incognito for long who had a habit of swooping in to provide loving support, help, advice and just about anything else she could assist with when a new, desperate parent joined the forum.

Before long Charlotte would be on the forum, email, phone or Skype doing her level best to offer help and support, and often to fight a family's cause when they were up against a less-than-adequate CAMHS or other mental health team.

For example, one evening in early June 2010, my (then) 16-year old son, who was deeply entrenched in his eating disorder, tried to climb up onto the roof of our two-storey house, not caring if he fell off. I managed to pull him back in through the skylight and the rest of that evening was Sheer Hell. Unable to sleep during the early hours, I fired off an email to Charlotte to tell her what had happened.

I knew I could depend on her.

I just knew...

Now, Charlotte Bevan was famous for being up and about at all hours, probably something to do with being a farmer. But, within no time, she was on the phone to me offering help and support, and a shoulder to cry on. She'd also been in touch with some of the other ATDT mums who also stayed up well after their bedtime to help.

In the months that followed I only had to hint at an ED-fueled nightmare going on in our house or at CAMHS and Charlotte would be there in a flash, on the phone or Skype, telling me to 'breathe' and put on my 'big girl pants'.

And I know I wasn't alone in getting these Rapid Response calls...

Almost right up until her death, which tragically took place this morning following a long and painful battle with breast cancer, Charlotte was thinking of other families fighting eating disorders. If she wasn't offering direct help on the phone, Skype, by email or on the Forum, she was fighting their cause in some other way.

Charlotte was the kind of person you could imagine wouldn't think twice about chaining herself to some railings and making a fuss to get her point across. She could be loud. She spoke her mind. I once likened her, on the Forum, to Boadicea with her chariot, charging through the battle and flattening the evil ED (and any bad healthcare providers) in her path.

She just cared so much about others.

Yet Charlotte wasn't your typical 'saint' or 'angel'. As far as I know she wasn't religious. She wasn't a 'do-gooder'. She wasn't trying to earn Brownie Points with God, the church or anything like that. She had no 'hidden agenda'.

She was just a Jolly Nice Person Who Cared.

And, in a world of selfishness, greed, hatred and evil, there are few truly genuine and totally selfless people like this.

To say that 'she will be sadly missed' is too lame a phrase.

I, and many hundreds of other people across the globe, are devastated that she is gone from us. Even though, I - like many of them - never actually met her in the flesh. Skype is the closest I ever came to meeting Charlotte.

I very nearly met her once - at the November 2012 FEAST UK conference where she did a sterling job of helping me to book hotel bedrooms for everyone. She was supposed to be introducing the conference. But she had to give back-word. Her mum was seriously ill, with cancer.

Who would have thought then that, before long, this terrible illness would attack dear Charlotte, too?

No, it isn't fair. It is bloody unfair that someone like this should be taken from her family and all the other people that loved her and who she loved.

My thoughts go out to her family, especially her girls and her husband.

Please consider making a donation to Charlotte's Helix in her memory.

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