For a couple of months I couldn't actually write anything. I couldn't face my Facebook page either - or indeed anything to do with eating disorders and my experience of getting my (now) 20-year old son through anorexia and back into the Land of the Normal. Here's why...
Back in October I was diagnosed with a trauma disorder, probably PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder), and put on the waiting list for NHS therapy. In March, when I last blogged, I was still on the waiting list. Nothing was happening. Even when the NHS set a date and time to call me to find out how I was doing, they failed to keep the appointment.
By March the PTSD-type thing had got worse. A heck of a lot worse. I was having nightmares - really horrible nightmares, the kind where you wake up screaming - on an almost nightly basis. I couldn't work. I couldn't do anything much except work, sit on the sofa and watch TV, and do the occasional self-soothing activity like swimming or a massage. The idea of blogging or Facebooking... well, I just couldn't do it. I literally couldn't face it, physically, mentally or emotionally.
I'd changed. I wasn't myself. I knew I needed help, and I needed it fast.
So I dug into my savings and paid for some private therapy, which I am still having - a combination of expert psychotherapy and hypnotherapy. I won't go into the details, just to say that it's been incredibly helpful. The therapist has been amazing. And, because the assessor realised I needed some serious help to get rid of the memories and echoes of the worse of Ben's eating disorder experience, they reduced the cost of the sessions - so that has really helped financially.
At the therapy session on Thursday we were wondering if I'd ever be able to face the world of eating disorders again (yes, it had got that bad!). She thought not. I wasn't sure. But, gradually, I've found that I can dip my toe into the water a little bit. This is the first time I've been able to face this blog in two months.
I'd even forgotten my log-in details!
But I have to admit that, thus far into the post, I am starting to feel uncomfortable and a bit jittery... but at least I'm letting you know where I've been. It's only fair, especially to my blog followers who've been with me since the start of the blog in January 2011.
Talking about dipping my toe into the water...
After months of feeling really cr*p and doing very little except 'just get through' the day (and night), I woke up one morning last week and decided it was time to push the boundaries.
I decided I had two options. Either I could carry on drifting, watching the telly every night and feeling cr*p - or I could do something - something that would involve a bit of a kick up the ar*e.
It struck me that, over the past 5 years (it is now 5 years since my son's eating disorder began to clearly emerge), I had done very few truly FUN THINGS. Last year it was when I took myself off to the South West Coast, on my own, to proof-read my book When Anorexia Came To Visit, and just to 'get away from it all' for a bit.
With nothing more than a small towel and a swimming costume, I headed for a beach, got changed and charged into the sea. It was freezing! But it was FUN! The kind of FUN where the child in you comes out and squeals "Again! Again!"
But that was the sum total of FUN that I'd had in years.
Selfish fun. That's one thing my therapist has taught me: it's time to be a little bit selfish and do stuff for myself, and myself only.
So I decided I needed to make a list of things I could do that would create that "Again! Again!" squeal of fun, things that maybe would push the boundaries of what I would normally consider.
And at the very top of the scariest list was this:
Learning to Surf.
So that is what I'm going to be doing a few weeks from now.
Learning to Surf, for the first time, at the age of 55 years, on my own with an instructor and a group of beginners no doubt much younger than me, somewhere on the South West Coast.
I am intent on coming back into the Land of the Living even if I have to drag myself there...
(Or 'on the crest of a wave'? Sorry, couldn't resist that!)