Monday 31 October 2016

Overwhelmed and comforted by the response from other parents

If you're one of my Facebook friends you'll know that I've received a huge response from other parents as a result of yesterday's post about my struggles with PTSD (or Complex PTSD as I like to call it - the brain's response to sustained / prolonged trauma). I am far from unique; other families that have struggled with eating disorders experience this too. Of course everyone's experience is different, just like their experience of eating disorders is different. But I expect there are many common denominators.

Writing my blog yesterday, after a long break, was difficult. But I did it, which is quite a Big Thing for me at the moment. Since returning from a week's cycling in September I've found myself hurtling into 'hermit' mode, mainly sitting propped up on the bed in the spare bedroom which doubles as my office and general dumping ground, knitting.

I've done an awful lot of knitting over the past year. More than I've ever done in my life. Strangely it seems to be one of the few things I can motivate myself to do and concentrate on for more than a few minutes.

I've had to cut back on work, too. Luckily for me I work for myself, from home, so I've been able to focus exclusively on my long-standing clients rather than take on new clients. There is a temptation to retire (after all, I reached the grand old age of 58 on the 20th), but I need some income!

And if I did retire there is the worry that I might spend all my days and nights on that confounded spare bed, knitting!

I've also been reading about Trauma, on and off, as much as I am able. I am currently reading Professor Gordon Turnbull's book on the subject. He's one of the UK's leading pioneers on PTSD which is a relatively new science here in the UK, dating back to the mid-1980s.

There is an awful lot about PTSD in the military, as you would expect. And people who have experienced prolonged childhood or domestic abuse. And people who have had 'one off' traumas like car crashes and so on.

But, so far, I haven't read anything about the trauma experienced by parents as a result of prolonged caring for someone with a severe illness such as anorexia or one of the other eating disorders.

Please note that everything I write in this blog is, of course, based on my own experiences. Yours might be different, but hopefully you will be able to at least identify with all of this and find comfort in some way.

Thanks for reading!


  1. I was in the middle of writing a super boring ethics proposal, so was happy to take 30 seconds to search for "carers" and "ptsd" on Google Scholar, with this result:,5

    Although there are a few studies on that page which focused on carers OF people with PTSD, which isn't what we're looking for, there are also several investigations of carers who have developed PTSD as a consequence of supporting someone with one of a number of different physical and psychological illnesses, such as HIV, cancer, dementia, psychosis, and so on. My own university studies the effects of prolonged stress on carers as well, so I know there are people out there who are looking into it.

    This search was a super quick blunt instrument and I'm certain you can find even more relevant papers with more specific terms. If you come across any academic papers you're interested in, you're welcome to email me and I can see if I can find the PDF for you :)