Friday 25 August 2017

UK waiting times for eating disorder treatment are getting worse, not better, according to The Times

"In Coventry and Warwickshire, which had the longest waiting times, patients waited on average for 14 weeks last year to see a specialist... despite extra money from the government to cut waiting times", says this article in today's Times newspaper. The Times also discovered that "Some trusts were still using BMI readings to decide whether to accept a patient for specialist treatment, despite Nice saying that they should not after criticism that this risks turning people away because they are not thin enough".

Wednesday 23 August 2017

My son's MA dissertation is almost complete!

Over the past few years I have been astonished and impressed at how my son, Ben, has knuckled down to studying and organising his time like a true pro. For someone for whom anxiety was a massive issue during his eating disorder, Ben sailed through three years of undergraduate degree, course work, dissertation and exams followed by 12 months of a master's degree, course work and now a dissertation that he's been working on flat-out and diligently over the summer break to be handed in (hopefully!!) next Friday.

I really, really want to write a sequel to my book 'Please eat...' but I just can't...

It's been on my 'to do' list for some time now. After all, it's been four years since I published the story of my son's struggle with and recovery from anorexia: Please eat... But every time I decide that, yes, this is the day I'll start work on the sequel, I open up the folder I've created on my PC, have a quick read of the final chapter and epilogue (written in 2014) of Please eat... and quickly close it again.

I just can't do it. It seems 'too big'. When I think of the work I put into Please eat, I just go into panic mode at the thought of doing it all again. Even though, of course, the sequel will be largely positive stuff except, probably, my own emerging issues with Complex Post-Traumatic Stress  Disorder (C-PTSD). This is probably why I can't face it yet. Writing my blog is far simpler and 'do-able', as is responding to parents' issues on the Around The Dinner Table Forum (for parents of young people with eating disorders).

Tuesday 22 August 2017

Son or daughter about to leave for university or college? Worried about how they will cope? Links to my blog posts about my son's experience at university

I've put together some links to past blog posts which describe how my son got on at university. In a nutshell, my son went away to Sheffield University in 2012. He lasted 2 or 3 days before he was back home for an impromptu 'gap year'. One year later he made a second attempt which, despite a rocky first year, was a success. He is just completing his Master's Degree from the same university. So if your child is going away to university this September and you're a bit worried - or it doesn't work out - check out the links below to see what worked (and what didn't!) for us. Ultimately our story is a Very Positive One even though it starts off a bit negatively...

Monday 21 August 2017

The approach to eating disorder treatment in UK is changing - Good News!

Of course many CAMHS services here in the UK have changed the way they treat eating disorders in adolescents. My local CAMHS services is one of these. Outdated treatment models for eating disorders are being replaced with the latest evidence-based treatment with other treatment models available for young people for whom the Maudsley-inspired Family Based Treatment turns out to be unsuitable. This is fantastic news and whenever I hear about this I find myself wanting to shout: "See? I was right?!"

Saturday 19 August 2017

"I am only a mum" - but, wow, the power of that role in eating disorder treatment!!

Commenting on fellow mum Jen's guest post on Charlotte Bevan's CharlottesChuntering blog about some eating disorder professionals viewing parents as 'interfering', Laura Collins (founder of FEAST and its forum: Around The Dinner Table) says (in relation to Jen's statement that she's 'only a mum', yet she knows more about eating disorders than some professionals):

"I am only a mum"

You are a mum, no "only" about it. It is the most important thing. Even with broken systems and loopholes -- and EVERYONE has those -- having parents who get it and know what they're dealing with is a greater power than all the authorities.

'Old' medicine versus 'new' medicine

Thinking about all that triangulation between me and CAMHS back in 2010-2012, I was wondering why on earth the treatment team wasn't up to speed with the latest developments in the world of eating disorders. And this goes for any treatment team that is still working with older treatment models and especially those eating disorder treatment models that view parents as part of the problem rather than part of the solution.

Still angry with CAMHS...

Reading through the Kartini Clinic blogs I find myself nodding my head at every click. I also find myself seething with anger (yet again) at the outdated way my son was treated for his eating disorder and the constant triangulation between the CAMHS treatment team and me, with my son 'siding' with whoever was more likely to allow his anorexia to flourish which was usually the treatment team.

Friday 18 August 2017

"How to Weigh an Eating Disordered Child or Teen" Blog by Dr Julie O'Toole of the Kartini Clinic - why our CAMHS team did none of this

I'm on the US Portland-based Kartini Clinic mailing list. I have a huge admiration for them - they speak such sense. Today they sent me a link to a blog post entitled "How to Weigh an Eating Disordered Child or Teen" by Dr Julie O'Toole.

When my son, Ben, was being treated by CAMHS (the UK-based Child & Adolescent Mental Health Services) the weekly weighing session was always a huge problem. If Ben had put on weight then the entire therapy session would be spent fire-fighting his severe anxiety and panic. If he'd lost weight, then everything would run smoothly.

From reading various information on the Net and as a member of the Around The Dinner Table Forum for parents of young people with eating disorders, I had a gut feeling that my son should have been weighed differently. Dr O'Toole's blog post endorses my concerns - here are my comments on what she says:

Thursday 17 August 2017

"Does my son have an eating disorder?" Yes, I was asking myself that same question back in 2009...

"Is my son developing an eating disorder?" "Does my son have an eating disorder?" It's the question that many parents of boys ask themselves as they notice unusual behaviours in their son's eating habits, attitude towards food and, perhaps, an increased focus on exercise.

New diagnostic video from the Kartini Clinic featuring presentation of an 11 yo male with restricting anorexia

Morgan O'Toole, CEO of the excellent US (Portland) based Kartini Clinic, got in touch with me to send me this link to the first of a series of videos they are making about males with eating disorders.This particular video, presented by Dr Julie O'Toole, Kartini Clinic founder and Chief Medical Officer, is about how to recognise eating disorders in boys. Here's what they say in the description:

Wednesday 16 August 2017

Being triggered by the receptionist at the GPs' surgery

I think I know what triggered me yesterday. My 90-year old mum had been trying to call the GP all morning but (as usual) the line was constantly engaged. So I drove up there to see if my mum could see a GP ASAP.

Tuesday 15 August 2017

I still find visits to the GP triggering...

Every time I walk into our GPs' surgery, I get SO VERY ANGRY. Today I had to take my mum in to see a GP and - zap, pow! - my anger took off into the upper stratosphere.

Basking in some serious 'me time'

One thing I have learned in the aftermath of my son's eating disorder is to 'allow' time for myself. For so many years I focused on One Thing Exclusively: my son, and his recovery from anorexia. Then, as his recovery from anorexia began to come on leaps and bounds, I blogged like crazy here, wrote books, did talks and other stuff in the world of eating disorders.

Friday 4 August 2017

So what is my son, Ben, up to this summer?

I just thought I'd give you an update on how Ben (now aged 23) is getting on with life now that the eating disorder is well and truly behind him...

Digging around to find the 'raw me' as a foundation for my life from here onwards

The little girl who
was about to get ticked off
on her first day at school
When I was 10 or 11, I used to walk back from orchestra rehearsals on a Saturday morning (violin...) via Woolworths in the city centre. Woolworths was famous for its 'pick'n'mix' sweets (candy). I'd pick a bit of this, a bit of that until I had a bag full of my favourites. Beginning to reconstruct a post-trauma life uses a CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) technique (from Rosenthal's book Your life after trauma) that's a bit like pick'n'mix.

This technique helps you to see the wider picture of who you really are, at the core. The 'raw you', if you like. And to home in on the characteristics you want to keep and discard those negative characteristics or thought processes that you don't - those traits that may have come about as part of the trauma, weren't true to the 'real you', are no longer relevant at this point in your life, were just downright destructive, and so on.

Thursday 3 August 2017

Do we parents really want to 'pick up where we left off' before the eating disorder struck?

A great view from the top
(see penultimate paragraph)
Most probably not. Or at least that's the case with me. My journey through my son's battle with anorexia stripped away all the cr@p and superficial stuff of life to allow me to draw on those 'core' resources that have always been part of me and to use them to get my son through the eating disorder. I threw aside all the clutter and trashy stuff, and what emerged was the real me because there simply wasn't any room in my life for anything that wasn't part-and-parcel of the core resources I needed to get my son well.

My 'negative trauma story' re-written into a 'positive trauma story'

One of the first exercises in Michele Rosenthal's workbook 'Your life after trauma - powerful practices to reclaim your lost identity' is to re-write / change your negative trauma story i.e. a short description of your current feelings about who you are as a result of going through the trauma (in our case the 24/7/365 stress of getting our son or daughter through an eating disorder). I jotted down my own version and it ended up looking something like this:

Are you, the parent, having a spot of bother with PTSD following the eating disorder?

I first mentioned PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) three-and-a-half years ago at the end of 2013 in this blog post from December 2013. And, as you'll know if you've been following my blog, I've been struggling with PTSD ever since. Or, more accurately, C-PTSD (Complex or Chronic PTSD - the result of lengthy exposure to trauma). I also know of other parents of young people with eating disorders that are currently struggling with trauma-like symptoms. As their son or daughter recovers from the eating disorder, they - the parents - find themselves debilitated with this confounded C-PTSD thing.