Friday 18 September 2015

When university didn't work out, the first time round

When things didn't work out for Ben at university in September 2012, we were all devastated. All three of us - his dad Paul, me and Ben - were so looking forward to him finally getting this chance to rebuild his life after three years of battling with anorexia.

Shortly before his 26-month eating disorders treatment with CAMHS (Child & Adolescent Mental Health Services) ended in the March, the CAMHS nurse had said that she "couldn't see any reason on this earth why Ben wouldn't be ready for university in September". To be honest, I wasn't convinced. But, anyhow, we went ahead.

Sheffield University Halls
of Residence
It's so bitter-sweet helping your child to pack for university and all the other arrangements that come with going to university.

Getting advance tickets for events, imagining your child at these events meeting other young people, making friends and having a whale of a time. Picturing the accommodation and everyone mucking in to cook cheapo meals in a pigsty of a kitchen strewn with beer bottles and remains of parties.

At Sheffield University they have a series of 'Give it a go' sessions where you can try your hand at all kinds of things from beach parties, BBQs and discos to scuba diving, quasar, Buddhist meditation, jazz, radio DJ-ing, ghost walks, pub crawls and treasure hunts - an opportunity you will never ever get again in life. I was so excited for Ben. And he appeared to be excited, too, pre-booking tickets for events and so on.

Then you drive your child to the university in a car jam-packed with stuff and settle them into their student accommodation with several other pairs of equally nervous but excited parents doing exactly the same with their offspring.

These posters would be
coming down again in a
few days...
Driving home can involve tears. And it definitely did with me, but probably for a very different reason than most of the other parents.

Then a few days later, I was driving back to Sheffield again. This time to move Ben out - all the moving in shenanigans but in reverse.

It broke my heart - and it wasn't too brilliant for Ben, either.

But we got through it. And, as I write, Ben is embarking on his final year at university.

Massively well done, Ben!

You can read about our experiences and what we learned from them in this free PDF of my blog posts from 2012, just scroll down to September 2012.

Or you can click through the archive posts on the right.

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