Monday 8 May 2017

At the end of my tether in August 2010...

As the summer of 2010 went on I became more and more depressed, exhausted and frightened. We weren't having our regular CAMHS sessions as the treatment team were taking their own vacations. I was also having to rely on emails sent to the CAMHS secretaries if I had any concerns. Following our return from France, I sent the following message to CAMHS as a summary of where I felt things were heading.

Holiday update - August 2010

Ben’s mood is lower than ever and virtually every eating disorder behaviour came out on holiday, so much so that we couldn’t help but comment which, of course, made things worse.

The result was that we lurched from low mood to us treading on eggshells to complete emotional meltdown to yet more suicide threats and back again, several times.

Meanwhile, Ben cut down on his meal sizes, refused treats (except 1 ice cream), reverted back to zero fat foods wherever possible, drank zero milk, exercised compulsively, couldn’t handle travelling and eating (“not doing anything” and therefore not earning the right to eat properly) – and eating out was a nightmare every single time.

On our return – Ben’s deteriorating mood

Ben’s mood has continued to deteriorate and we are banned from any involvement in his eating or mentioning food. The only thing I’m allowed to do is to cook the evening meal.

Yet he is still extremely anxious to have control over evening menus and also how I cook the meals (i.e. keep fats / oils to a minimum – he feels I might “make a mistake” and put too much oil in, etc). So he tends to examine recipes and hover round, getting very anxious.

Mood-wise, he continually flies off the handle and it’s as if he’s punishing us, refusing to talk to us or cooperate in any way.

He regularly threatens to leave home and nearly did the other night – bags packed. I believe he was seriously going to leave to go goodness only knows where…

He says there is “no point” to his life.

He also went AWOL during a particularly evil mood swing which lasted 36 hours but thankfully returned (still in the evil mood). But I was sufficiently frightened to call CAMHS for advice. Unfortunately you were off sick, so I spoke to someone else.

He insists he “just wants to be left alone to get on with my life, even if that’s a sh*t life”. It’s almost as if he’s lost belief that he will ever recover and will be stuck with this horrible thing forever.

Meanwhile the anorexia’s grip is stronger than ever and we’re very aware of it trying to re-gain control of every aspect of Ben’s day.

Ben says he thinks about food all the time at the exclusion of virtually everything else.

His social life has suffered and we have no idea about what will happen about school in September.

He also failed to turn up at his voluntary work on the first day. (Remember, I organised some work on the library’s children’s reading scheme.)


Ben continues to lose weight yet he is trying to follow his own eating plan. He has lost all the weight he gained during that one week – and more. (Weighed on our scales.)

He naturally cuts down portion sizes, eliminates many foods and exercises compulsively to “earn” the “right to eat”.

Left alone he is unable to eat the quantities he needs to put on weight and – now without the dietitian's input – is not having his distorted food / eating attitudes challenged, so he is not learning anything.

He has only gained weight during one week since 28th May

With regard to what is helpful to Ben...

He would prefer it if we made no mention of anorexia / eating plans / weight gain / CAMHS, etc and just left him to get on with it. But, as mentioned above, this only results in him losing weight. Also, it is impossible NOT to talk about food now and again yet he sees this as “going on at” him.

We, as his carers, have no choice but to mention these things in passing which often results in him flying off the handle at the slightest comment so we feel as if we are treading on eggshells all the time, terrified he will either kill or harm himself – or leave home. How do we perform our parental role with regards to recovery if he refuses to let us talk about anything to do with the eating disorder and food?

If his own eating regime fails to put on weight, what do we do? We can’t see him cooperating with any weight gain diet.

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