Thursday 16 December 2021

Almost 3 years since my last post - here's an update

Things have changed enormously over the past couple of years, and not because of the covid pandemic; it's better news than that. I'm trying to remember where I left off in Ben's story, so here's a quick recap for those who want to know how Ben is getting along these days.

Ben completed his primary school teacher training PGCE in 2020, the latter half of the course hindered by the emergence of Covid restrictions. After a lot of thought he decided that, for now, teaching isn't for him. Not because he didn't enjoy teaching and certainly not because he was bad at teaching - he received some fantastic thank you notes and gifts from parents and children following teacher training placements - but because of the way teachers are so restricted these days along with the massive amount of paperwork.

Ben didn't feel that he could be the kind of teacher he wanted to be because of all of this. It's so sad, but I know he's not alone.

Anyhow, by mid 2020 Covid was on the rampage so Ben took a break to focus on his mental health. Although the anorexia had gone, Ben had been left with Chronic Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder as a result of his battles with the eating disorder. It's not just parents, like me, who can find themselves with PTSD after fighting to get their son or daughter through an eating disorder; it makes total sense that it can affect the young person, too.

Ben was also fighting depression which was often deep and dark.

So on one hand there was the numbing effects of the PTSD (which, from experience, I know about very well) and on the other, deep depression that would often make him wonder what the point of life was.

My mum paid for him to have private therapy. Because of the pandemic, the therapy had to be online, via Zoom. This was good in the way that it gave him access to therapists across the country, or even beyond; he wasn't restricted to local therapists. 

But after several sessions, he decided this particular therapist wasn't the right fit for him.

Remember Sheila, the school nurse? That wonderful woman who helped me enormously during the worst of Ben's anorexia when he was still at school and who we've kept in touch with ever since?

She'd been suffering from PTSD as a result of her struggles with Maleria while in Africa. Back in the UK, she'd found a brilliant therapist who was a massive help to her. Sheila suggested Ben got in touch with this therapist and he did.

Over the next 10 months or so, Ben and the new therapist had weekly Zoom sessions. 

To cut a long story short, she was incredible! Ben really engaged with her and began to think differently. Her techniques helped him enormously and, increasingly, he began to read self-help books and watch videos that she recommended. 

Ultimately she helped him find a new path - a phenomenally successful path where he explored his own experiences, past and present, and discovered all about how the brain works and how mental health problems can occur.

This really is cutting a long and impressive story short as he's kept us up to speed with his new discoveries - true Eureka moments! He was devouring psychology books at a rate of knots!

I did a bit of Googling around and discovered a MSc course in psychology aimed at people who'd got different degrees - a conversion course. Ben got accepted at a couple of local universities but chose the cheaper one as we were having to self-fund. With a degree, MA and PGCE behind him there were no more student loans available.

He is now part-way through the course and furthering his own knowledge massively with Eureka moments virtually every day. 

Thanks to the therapy and his own explorations and insights into psychology, he's been able to put the PTSD behind him and manage the depression. He also says that all of this has helped him understand his eating disorder in depth.

So this is all fantastic news. Next week Ben will be 28 years old and a budding psychologist or researcher. 

Watch this space for more news!

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