Monday 12 December 2016

On the eighth day of Christmas, the anorexia recovery gave to me... “Eight Christmasses since our first ED Christmas”…

2009... 10... 11... 12... 13... 14... 15... 16... It's eight Christmasses since our first Christmas with the eating disorder. At Christmas 2009 my now 16-year old son, Ben, was on the waiting list for CAMHS treatment for his eating disorder; he'd been on the waiting list for a month and it was a couple of months since the GP had sent off a referral. Ben was seeing a private CBT therapist in a bid to stop his escalating eating disorder falling off a cliff. Despite the therapist's best efforts (ironically the same therapist I'm currently seeing for EMDR therapy), it didn't work. Ben got worse. By the New Year of 2010 he was a shadow of his former self. He'd become volatile and violent, he'd developed a slow, low, monotone of a voice - 'the voice of ED', as we called it, his eyes were dark and blank, he was painfully thin, his skin was dry and transparent, and he had bruises on his back where he'd put his bony body through umpteen sit ups which he did several times a day.

Christmas Eve was a nightmare, as described in this post, but Christmas Day itself wasn't too bad. It was as if the eating disorder had decided to give us the day off. But it was back with a vengeance on Boxing Day.

If we thought that Ben was thin that Christmas, he was to become even worse by the following Christmas: Christmas 2010. Although he himself had made the decision to push for recovery back in the October (following a threat to 'section' him after a second hospital admission for heart issues), the eating disorder was so very powerful that he was unable to do anything. His weight continued to drop and by February 2011 it had reached its lowest point.

Christmas 2011 was somewhat better. I'd been writing my blog for 12 months, so you can read about it in the archive or by downloading the free PDFs by clicking here. Ben was in the Upper Sixth Form at school and, with any luck, on his way to university the following September. We'd been doing our 'contract' since Easter 2011 which meant that Ben had put on weight. He was also looking and feeling a heck of a lot better, but there were still quite a number of outstanding issues yet I knew that, because he'd reached the age of 18, he was about to be discharged from CAMHS treatment.

Ben wasn't quite where he'd planned to be by Christmas 2012. He'd planned to be at university, but - after a few unsuccessful days - he'd decided to take a gap year. He and I were busy working on the outstanding issues which needed fixing before he was ready to go away to university. The main issue was the social aspect. The eating disorder had isolated Ben and he needed to re-learn his social skills and build a new circle of friends. This blog post from December 2012 sums up the year admirably, so there's no point in me repeating everything here. Christmas 2012 also saw the very first signs of what was to become my Complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. In this post I talk about how I'd begun to feel a bit weird: numb and yet very anxious and fatigued; the nightmares had also started. Who would have thought that four years on I'd still be receiving treatment for C-PTSD!!!

Here's how I began a post on Boxing Day, Christmas 2013: If the 'me' of Christmas 2009 could have looked into a crystal ball and seen our family Christmas of 2013, I would have positively exploded with hope. Christmas 2009 was the first Christmas that ED, the eating disorder demon, sat alongside us, uninvited, at Christmas Dinner (and all the other Christmas meals and festivities). Yesterday, on Christmas Day 2013, I can proudly say that the eating disorder was nowhere to be seen. And I hope that our experience of emerging from an eating disorder, will offer other families hope for the future. Read the rest of the post here.

I didn't write a post for Christmas 2014 - my PTSD meant that it was difficult to blog, to write, to read... I hadn't blogged since the September. I don't even appear to have any photos. Ben was doing well, though. He was well into his second year at university and had built up a lovely group of new friends. I seem to remember that we treated all of them to pizzas at Pizza Express for Ben's 21st birthday!

Then Christmas 2015 was 12 months ago. Ben was in charge of the cooking, something he's been doing for a couple of Christmasses. He also did all the catering for Christmas Eve - all wonderful stuff, especially the sticky toffee date pudding with creamy butterscotch sauce. It was awesome!! This is how I summarised Christmas 2015 in my blog: I think we had one of the best Christmases we've had since before my son fell sick with anorexia...  It was the kind of Christmas I could never in my wildest dreams have imagined when my son was sick with anorexia... You can read the rest here.

CLICK HERE to read 'The 12 days of (ED) Christmas' - a series of posts from Christmas 2011 which talk about the nightmare of living with a young person with an eating disorder (PDF)

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