It's not surprising, really, that some of us parents will find that the eating disorder comes back to haunt us in the guise of medical issues either with our body or with our mind. In his book The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma, world trauma expert Dr Bessel van der Kolk talks about how trauma literally reshapes both body and brain, "compromising sufferers' capacities for pleasure, engagement, self-control, and trust".
I know of several parents who are struggling with PTSD-type symptoms - or, to be more accurate, C-PTSD (Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) symptoms. The latter - C-PTSD - is the result of having faced long-term trauma as opposed to PTSD which may occur as a result of a single traumatic event.
As you'll know if you've followed this blog, I've been struggling with C-PTSD for a few years along with trying to find a treatment provider and model that could fix it. I've had various CBT and psychotherapy sessions and, more recently, EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) both through the NHS and with a private therapist.
Altogether I had 34 EMDR sessions!
The EMDR was hugely effective and helpful. After 18 sessions with the private therapist, I am 'going it alone' to see how I get on. We've 'processed' a mountain of stuff that was still going around in my head causing flashbacks, nightmares and a stack of unpleasant and debilitating symptoms. For example on Christmas Day things were so bad that I almost didn't get out of bed.
I'm not ready to go into more detail just yet. Perhaps in the future I might be able to write another book about my son's recovery from anorexia and the legacy that I struggled with - i.e. the C-PTSD.
But at the moment I'm just taking things slowly, step by small step.
It's been a Big Thing to say 'Yes' to the invitation to become a Trustee of the charity Men Get Eating Disorders Too. But it's also testament to how much I've progressed since I first started EMDR 34 sessions ago. Just a month or so ago I wouldn't have been able to face it. It would have seemed 'too big'. Even now it seems 'big', but I am better able to face it and hopefully contribute something useful!
I may say that I've 'fixed' the C-PTSD. In many ways I have (or, rather, my therapists have). But I'm not over it. And it could come back.
So I'm just taking things a small step at a time. And I know that my therapist is always there if I need a few more sessions.