Wednesday 23 March 2016

Big flashbacks at teatime....

It's curious how the brain gets 'stuck' in the 'fight or flight'/Red Alert response, isn't it? Take yesterday teatime for example (or evening meal, to non-Yorkshire people out there!) Paul and Ben were eating fish in breadcrumbs, chips and mushy peas. Ben commented on the fact that Sainsbury's mushy peas weren't a patch on Batchelor's mushy peas. Then there was a silence. And the 'stuck' part of my brain suddenly went into FREEZE. I mean F.R.E.E.Z.E...

Tuesday 8 March 2016

What do my elbow, back and my brain have in common?

Back in August I had a bike accident. I broke my elbow and herniated a disk in my lower spine. Meanwhile I was onto my fourth (or was it my fifth?) course of therapy for the PTSD, anxiety and depression I'd developed two-and-a-half years before - a delayed result of my brain attempting to cope with what it had been through during the years when I battled to get my teenage son through anorexia.

It took around 12 weeks for my elbow fracture to heal. Eight months on I am still working on the tail-end of the disk herniation, very gradually easing myself back into normal tasks and even sport (I can't wait to get back on my bike, for example, but will need to rehabilitate myself with care).

Monday 7 March 2016

Part #4 of my talk: "Eating disorders are not just a 'girl thing'"

So… Just to summarise so far… My 15-year-old son Ben developed anorexia over the summer of 2009. In  the September I took him to the GP but it was the end of October before a referral was sent off to CAMHS (the UK-based Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services). It took a further month before I heard back from CAMHS only to be told that it could be 18 to 22 weeks before he was seen, which would take it up to around Easter time. I was told there was nothing they could do to speed things up and we would just have to wait our turn...

Thursday 3 March 2016

A quick break from the talk transcripts...

After my SEDIG (Scottish Eating Disorders Interest Group) conference talk on Saturday about eating disorders in boys, one mum in the audience stood up. She said: "You've just told our story - it's identical. Except for one thing. Unlike your son, ours didn't make it; he passed away, aged 19." My jaw dropped. And with it came a rush of emotion. Here was I, describing our recovery story. There she was, reinforcing the fact that eating disorders can kill. They are deadly diseases. And no matter how punishingly hard you work as a parent to get your child through it, the eating disorder can claim them in the end.

Wednesday 2 March 2016

Part #3 of my talk: "Eating disorders are not just a 'girl thing'"

Throughout October we went to and fro to the GPs only to be told the same old thing: go home, eat more and come back in a couple of weeks.

Meanwhile all the warning signs were getting stronger by the day. Mealtimes were becoming difficult; everything had to be perfect, weighed out to the nearest nanogram to make sure he wasn't getting "too much".

Ben began to police my cooking in the kitchen and change recipes, striking through any "offending" recipes with a marker pen, and he would blow a fuse at the slightest thing.

Tuesday 1 March 2016

Part #2 of my talk: "Eating disorders are not just a 'girl thing'"

Things began to get more obvious over the school summer holidays when Ben was at home and we were with him more.

By this time he was exercising like crazy, every day. He joined our local gym and would run there and back as well as doing all the usual situps, etc.

He developed a big interest in cooking and especially healthy cooking. He'd slim down recipes, cutting out all the fats and carbohydrates and make some quite weird concoctions that tasted pretty disgusting.

Part #1 of my talk: "Eating disorders are not just a 'girl thing'"

It all started in the spring of 2009 when our son Ben was 15. He'd been quite chubby at primary school and had been bullied as a result.

But at secondary school he got into rugby and developed a new leaner, more muscly physique which he was very proud of.

And because he was the "guy in the rugby team" he was very popular – he had a great group of friends. So during those first two years at secondary school things were going from strength to strength. Life was pretty normal.

SEDIG Conference in Edinburgh was really good

On Saturday afternoon I spoke at the SEDIG (Scottish Eating Disorders Interest Group) conference in Edinburgh about my family's experience of getting my son through anorexia. It was great to see so many dedicated people together from across Scotland – mainly parents who are still struggling with an eating disorder in the family but also one or two clinicians, and the speakers, chaired by the amazing Dr Jane Morris, Consultant Psychiatrist, Eden Unit, Aberdeen.