Following some issue or other, Ben had fled up to his loft bedroom screaming. Not unusual. But instinct told me I needed to rush up there after him.
I arrived in the nick of time.
The upper half of his torso was already out on the roof tiles as he heaved the rest of his body up.
I rushed in, grabbed his legs and pulled him back in.
It wasn't easy because, at the same time, he was pulling in the other direction.
"What the hell were you trying to do?" I yelled after I'd managed to pull him back in.
"Climb onto the roof, of course!" he said in that usual deadpan / blank way he did when I knew it was the eating disorder speaking.
I remember trying to hug him, but he just stood there, like a zombie, his arms at his side.
Here's what I posted on the ATDT forum in the small hours of the next morning (initially I removed the first part because I didn't want to worry other parents):
Last night my son got into such a distressed, depressed and "manic" state... worse than anything from the "dark days" before he started treatment... (it's been bubbling under the surface for days)... that he rushed up to his loft bedroom after a particularly gruelling fight (over the amount of oil I was using to fry an onion to make a pasta sauce).
Instinctively, a few moments later, I went after him to find him climbing out of the velux window. I had to pull him back in. I can't even begin to describe the evening we had after that... I reached my lowest-ever point as a parent and believe I went beyond what any parent should ever have to experience. Hell? That would seem like a pleasant vacation!
Even if he didn't plan to kill himself (which he insists he didn't - says he was just going to climb onto the roof) he could so easily have slipped. It's a heck of a long drop to the ground, from 3 storeys... The outcome would not have been good.
Today we see the psychiatrist, so I'm firing off an urgent note to her which I've been carefully writing since 3am this morning (can't sleep). When CAMHS opens at 9am I will call the receptionist and say that I believe he is at risk and why the psychiatrist MUST READ the attached note before our 11am session.
I have said this is a risk we can't ignore. Even if he doesn't intend to kill himself, he could easily get into a distressed frame of mind where he does, unintentionally. (We all know the suicide statistics for eating disorders...) I have insisted that the psych prescribe medication. What shall I do if she refuses? What shall I do if she just insists we continue with our one-hour sessions once a fortnight? That's a joke!!!!
Really, what shall I do if she doesn't take this seriously? She already thinks I'm neurotic, but last night put the fear of God into me. I believe I nearly lost my son.
My stress levels have gone off the scale. And they were already sky-high due to CAMHS axing the dietitian from our team. What on earth are parents supposed to do in this kind of situation? Everyone jokes about "sending for the men in white coats to take you away", but in reality WHAT DO YOU DO in a situation where your child is so distressed they're doing something like he did? Who do you call? Do you dial 999 and if so, who do you ask for?
And - later that day...
Thank you to everyone that emailed me today... I just wanted to say a massive thank you for rallying round with so much support, advice and genuine friendship.
For the first time I feel the psychiatrist understands where we are coming from and her session this morning (although tricky to start with considering my son wouldn't even open his mouth) was conducted extremely professionally, sensitively and with results in that he left the premises 90 minutes later upbeat enough to suggest he and I have a picnic in the park, which we did, and it was lovely.
The upshot is that, although still definitely very low, his mood has improved enormously since last night and this morning. The psychiatrist has not prescribed any anti-depressants; she offered to do so but he refused so we've decided to revisit that next time we see her which is next Wednesday, then the week after. So last night's incident has resulted in our fortnightly appointments reverting back to weekly. Plus she explained clearly what we should if something like that should happen again (God forbid...) i.e. who we should contact depending on how serious we judged the situation to be - and what would happen in each instance if we did.
She also got right to the grass roots bottom of the main issues that are worrying my son and came to the conclusion that so far he'd been extremely skillful in pulling the wool over her eyes (which, as you know, is what I said ages ago...). And he admitted that, yes, that is the case.
So although last night was pretty nightmarish to say the least, I feel that some good has come out of it in that it may actually be a watershed in our son's eating disorders treatment... for the better. I really hope so.
I'll keep you posted on how my son's mood progresses. Me, I have calmed down and I'm quite surprised that I don't feel totally wiped out. Amazed and astonished, actually.
Thank you XXXXX and XXXXX for staying up way beyond your bedtime [to help me]... I was thinking today that, if it wasn't for the eating disorder coming into our lives, so many GOOD things would never have happened. I can't list them all here, and many are very personal, but it has shown me just how genuine, loving, totally selfless and generous people can be - people that don't even know me! Goodness only knows what you must be like with your non 'virtual' friends, you must be amazing!!!!
I have another friend (who lives locally) who I've become very close to, directly as a result of the eating disorder (long story...). She has no connections with eating disorders, but despite having (not good) secondary cancer, she's been the most amazing and incredible support - the kettle is always on whenever I need shoulder to cry on. All of this makes me feel very humble...
So far things are reasonably OK here apart from the fact my son is on his usual 'low'. My BIG HUGE WORRY is that next week which is the first of the 2 GCSE weeks and which is when my husband is working away again, could be potentially very sticky. I hope and pray that all will go smoothly, but I'm going to get some reinforcements lined up in case they don't. (Above friend plus my sister who's also been great support.)
Thanks again, all of you... I hope I can return the favour some time - seems to always be me that is doing the taking and not the giving here.