Tuesday 10 January 2017

Looking back, what do I wish I'd done differently?

Oh gosh, that's a massive question... I know what I wish our GPs and CAMHS had done differently when assessing and treating my teenage son for anorexia - but me?

The first thing that comes to mind is that I wish I'd been more forceful - both in my interactions with the medical profession and with my son.

First, the medical profession...

I wish I'd pushed for a faster referral from our GP and not put up with all the "eat more and come back in a couple of weeks" stuff. I wish I'd asked our GP what treatment options were available for adolescents with eating disorders in our city because never once was I given any information.

I wish I'd pushed for my son to be seen by CAMHS sooner than he was. Yes I did chase up the referral once it went off and we didn't hear anything for weeks. And I did go mad when the woman from CAMHS told me it could be 18-22 weeks before Ben was seen - and then only for an eating disorders assessment.

But I wish I'd been more forceful. I wish I'd found out the name of a CAMHS manager and given them a call - or visited them in person if they were reluctant to get my son into eating disorder treatment quicker than 18-22 weeks.

I wish I'd done the equivalent of chaining myself to a lamppost.

I wish I'd trusted my gut instinct that Ben's eating disorder was deadly serious and not put up with their brush-offs.

Once in front of CAMHS there's a ton of stuff I wish I'd done differently - mainly along the lines of being more forceful, asking for one-to-one meetings with the psychiatrist to thrash it all out and being clear what I didn't want them to say or do in front of my son.

And having the confidence to stand up for what I felt was right for my son - and what my gut instinct told me was wrong.

I wish I'd pushed harder to discover what eating disorder treatment model they were using (because it seemed very muddled indeed).

Most importantly for me, I wish I'd pushed harder for proper weight restoration. Back to where Ben was before he fell sick with the eating disorder. Never forget that when he was discharged from CAMHS he weighed virtually the same as when he started...

And when they made remarks like “We’re happy to settle for second best if you are”, that “some young people choose to remain at a low weight they can handle” and that Ben could “pick a weight he was happy with” that I'd demanded a private meeting to thrash it out.

Despite the fact that I know I worked blooming hard to get my son well, there is a heck of a lot of residual regret and guilt seven years on from when his eating disorder treatment began.

I just wish I'd had the confidence to push harder for what I believed was right - and still believe is right.

Especially as this is supported by evidence.

Find out what I wish I'd done differently as regards interacting with my son in a future blog post.

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