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Archive for the ‘Family Based Therapy’ Category

(… or reflections on our anorexia journey)

The uni break went so quick. One minute she is home, next minute gone. lol, well almost. She went back earlier, so excited for the new unit, then realised she was back way too early and desperately homesick this time. She came back home, instead of toughing it out. She said she had a much better chance of not falling into depression or anxiety by coming back home. As always I observe everything she says and does. Sophie’s maturity surprises me to the level she has achieved (within a mere several months), her insight and empathy (so apparently missing) is finally blossoming. Doesn’t mean she was always calm and not hysterical at times, but a definite switch. Before she went back, the aspie side of Sophie was all organised. Doctor appointments made, counselling appt made, new referral appt with ED specialist made, classes sorted, disability needs sorted. She just ploughed through it all. This is the plus side of having aspergers.

The new ED specialist is more of a counsellor but has the insight and understanding of what having an eating disorder in your past means for you presently and how you relate and cope with life. Whilst Sophie has to travel to this centre, I am pleased she has taken this on board as an extra coping and learning tool.

It is also time to start weaning her anti-depressant medication. Five years is a long time to be on the medication, and now is the time to slowly (painfully slowly) wean her off and see how she responds.

For me it’s been a time of great reflection. 5.5 years into this, 5 years from diagnosis, 3.5 years from full weight stabilisation, 1-1.5 years with no anorexia behaviour or thoughts. It’s been an amazing ride, that only those who have been here know how crazy, mixed up, painful, the intense highs and the intense lows. Moving from small picture, every moment, every day stuff to big picture stuff that encompasses months. Being part of a new parent support group too, has been part of this reflection. I have had to think back to the very beginning, remember things I thought I had put away forever. It’s actually been a painful journey for me, but it has honed my thoughts and beliefs about eating disorders and taught me to be far more articulate and to advocate on a higher level.

Thought I would put together a summary – seems a timely thing really.

our anorexia journey

Biggest Mistake
* under estimating how long, painful and soul destroying this journey is
* feeling guilty that I had somehow caused this

Biggest Misunderstanding
* that we could get through this in a couple of months – not years

Biggest Regret
* not demanding more from the health system around us or challenging the wrong beliefs at the time

Biggest Fear
* wondering if at times I could continue to care for her
* her dying before we could turn this around into recovery

Biggest Lesson
* how quickly you go from health to critical and in a hospital bed
* how you can never never negotiate with an eating disorder
* your child is totally separate to the eating disorder behaviour
* comorbid illness are a part of eating disorders and make the struggle to recover harder and can become a part of life afterwards

Biggest Myth
* you don’t have to be skeletal to have anorexia
* relapse is a valid and normal part of recovery not something dangerous, fearful or not normal
* tube feeding is not a shame or psychological issue. Not now. Older women struggle with this and parents have their own hangups about this. The reality is very different for those in their teens who are tubed fed.

Biggest Support
* those I met going through this journey who were travelling it too
* having an amazing, strong, recovery focused team of five professionals

Biggest Surprise
* the inner eating disorder voice in my daughter’s mind. Like getting to know the devil himself.

Biggest Problem
* health professionals who still do not know how to diagnose or treat eating disorders
* the lack of resources (both money and treatment) for parents and sufferers to access to get treatment and recover.
* the different approach, government understanding and health systems in each country that actually hamper treatment when the illness itself is the same regardless of country.

What I did Right
* early detection, early intervention
* standing with her despite the horrors of the illness and behaviour and walking with her to recovery

What Benefits Did We Gain
* obviously my daughter’s life and health but also gaining a deep, close and open relationship with my daughter
* gaining some wonderful new friends who truly understood and still stand by us
* an intimate and highly experienced understanding and knowledge of eating disorders that we can share with others

What Did We Lose
* the years my daughter cannot get back of her normal growing up time with her peers
* friends

Before Anorexia
* my daughter was anxious, highly strung, a perfectionist, a misunderstood kid with her peers
* I thought I had a plan mapped out for some kind of normal existence like every other family raising teenage kids
* I thought I was already a strong mum because of domestic violence.

After Anorexia
* my daughter knows herself so well compared to other kids her age. Whilst this is a plus it is also a negative, as she struggles to find a close friend
* I learned I am stronger than I thought, I learned a deeper side of me, and I learned the dreams I had no longer ‘do it for me’. I search deeper.
* I am still finding who I am now, I no longer want the same dreams. I still struggle to find my way around a kitchen after so many years tied to anorexia cooking and preparation.

The Blog Role
* ended up being far more than I ever thought, and gained me so much privilege to talk to others on all levels in this journey. Thank you!

What would I do Differently
This is very personal. It would be to leave our dysfunctional family domestic violent life instead of waiting til further into recovery. I had planned to leave just before my daughter started down the slippery slope. I thought (wrongly) that staying might have been better for her health. It would have given full FBT a better chance and a safe environment that had no anger, expectations, eggshells etc in it.

Family Based Therapy
That eating disorder recovery is NOT a one-size fits all. Despite the best statistics, FBT (Maudsley, FEAST, FBT types) don’t always work for some families. This is not a point to be guilty about or feel like you have failed. It just is. Means you just go and find what does work for your family and how to care. As long as there is forward progress into recovery then you are going great with whatever you are doing.

Families are not to blame
I will keep saying this shouting it from everywhere. Eating disorders are genetic based. Families do not cause eating disorder and are not to blame for an ED developing.

Overall
My faith took a pounding, became far more realistic and more honest. Like David I adore but I will question and ask.

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Been called the Food Police yet? Had people go say how belittling or punitive the approach is?

Hold your headup and don’t let ignorant comments make you feel you are not doing your son or daughter any favours.

Refeeding at home for eating disordersLet’s remove the myths. Firstly, you are not the Food Police. The ones who say this view it through their own circumstances and teenage rights. If their child was sick with some illness they would oversee the medication taking and other treatments to ensure wellness occurs. These same people do not see that for someone with an eating disorder – and in particular anorexia – food is the medicine and the treatment. It is critical you get your child to eat and the only way to face down the fears and irrational thinking that anorexia has, is to have rules around food eating and to sit with them whilst they eat. Left to their own devices, those with anorexia do not eat or eat so little they continue to endanger their life.

Secondly, it is not belittling or punitive. The emotional role of the parent/carer is to encourage, uphold, strengthen, love, etc. It is being firm but loving. As far as I have researched, all relationships that undergo this stage of refeeding end up healthy and strong. Your child may say they hate you during the refeeding and fight back, but once weight is restored and they continue with recovery, they love the fact you stood by them. That you persevered and believed in them and their life. Actually neither is a NG feed punitive or belittling. It is medicine and if your child is that sick and still will not eat, then take the NG lifeline that is offered. Your child gets to live and fight this on another day.

Thirdly, you are removing a basic right and independence of your child. If your child ate normally yes you would be. But your child is so under the control of the eating disorder that normal, rational, logical eating doesn’t happen. They can’t eat nor take independent and appropriate control of their eating. The early stages of refeeding needs to have someone there to help and support them as they learn to eat and fight back against the control the eating disorder imposes on them. As later stages of refeeding occurs, the parents start to hand back the independence and self-monitoring of eating. There is a lot of basic relearning to do be done because the eating disorder wipes out what should normally occur.

And this last part is incredibly important.

DO NOT IN ANY WAY PHYSICALLY HARM OR VERBALLY ABUSE YOUR CHILD.

Incredible? no it really does happen. Some parents threaten, harm or abuse their child because they won’t eat. Yes it does get emotionally fraught and frustrating when you are trying to break down the eating disorder barrier. Everyone has a limit as to how much they can deal with, but in this case, your child IS NOT the enemy here. The eating disorder is and you can’t lash out at it, because your child is the one who ‘cops’ it. This kind of behaviour does not build or strengthen the relationship you have with your child in the long term. Nor does this behaviour establish healing and moving away from the eating disorder. You take your child’s independence and emotional wellbeing away and reduce them to an object. Violence on any level will not heal your child.

I do understand believe me. Sophie was violent, aggressive and lashed out during the refeeding stage. She was very difficult to refeed at home and refused to eat anything other than what she wanted. I would have had to tie her to the table to get her to eat, cause she just kept leaving the table. Or force feed her, because she would not eat no matter how firm, loving etc we were. In the end you have to do what is right for your family and your child. If that means slight compromises til they are able to fight back better against the eating disorder fears and voice, then so be it. It is far far better to do this than to resort to some sort of violence.

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It gets so frustrating when even treatment centres cannot do the ‘right’ thing by eating disorder patients. LOL, really the fact that you managed to get a coveted position in a treatment centre is a major achievement in itself – that means you actually found a doctor who believes you have an eating disorder and got you a referral to the treatment centre.  What do you do when the whole thing turns out to be intensely disappointing. What do you do when you are released, you are no better than when you were admitted.

So up front, I get why treatment centres treat and run the programs they do. They have many different people, all unique and all not going to respond to just one form of treatment. So the treatment centre to run effectively, also has to streamline what they can and can’t deliver. That is reasonable. I also understand that they can’t also perform miracles. Basically the patient has to be willing to comply in the end with eating and wanting to recover.

But …

  1. They promise to not discharged unless fully weight restored – but they do.
  2.  They work on punishment and penalties – but the rest of the eating disorder treatment approaches don’t (and they are the ones with the most successful recovery stats).
  3. Some patients have been back over 3 times (several patients) – doesn’t that send a clear message ‘it’s not working’.
  4. Therapy is with-held unless fully weight restored. (see point 1 for how ludicrous this is).
  5. For critical patients they can quite easily discharge you after a few weeks, barely beginning your recovery program.
  6. They send you to their ‘preferred’ ongoing treatment psychologists, ignoring your home team. This creates ill feeling back at home and also introduces another unknown person into the recovery program.
  7. Critical patients are thrown in with groups of patients on their 3-4th visit who treat the centre as a party atmosphere. They are exposed to new tricks, manipulations, ways of purging etc.
  8. Treatment centres run down previous care and treatment, without knowing facts etc and make you feel you are even trying to care.
  9. I am not talking about adults either, but kids, young teenagers in these treatment centres.

get serious about treating eating disorders

The goal of initial treatment is to fully weight restore. This is supposed to ground rule wherever you are treated. If you don’t get that much at least, then what is the point of the treatment centre or hospital to start with. You might have just as well stayed home and tried to treat yourself. It also builds a mistrust in the treatment centre and their ability to really help you. Treatment centres should be aware after treating so many patients, that patients only eat to get out. So releasing them under goal weight and believing that they will eat at home, is also to the point of ludicrous.

A few weeks in a treatment centre (unless you are incredibly willing to change) is also not enough time. In anorexia cases and severe weight loss, weight simply cannot be restored in that time, nor can health, mind or any psychology work be done to start to change behaviours. Again all this does is, help the anorexia dig in deeper and become more chronic.

And what really, really annoys me, is the treatment centres and professionals who think you CANNOT do psychological treatment when underweight. There is SOOOOO much more to the psychological treatment than just getting cooperation and changing behaviours. If our team had taken that approach, then nothing would have been started til much later. Part of the whole concept of getting Sophie to eat in hospital, was talking about the psychological hold the anorexia had on her. The psychiatrist spent time every week with her, just gently stating the same points and discussing the illness. Whilst Sophie didn’t always respond, the seeds were sown. We could all see that she could begin to glimpse the anorexia as different to her and try to grasp what she needed to do. Of course it was beyond her to try to change behaviour much, but the seeds where there, she had already started on the right track BECAUSE therapy was started at a low weight and in hospital.

The biggest gain, is creating the relationship between sufferer and treatment professional, whether counsellor, psychiatrist or psychologist. Whilst many therapies points and techniques do need a receptive and working mind, the constant therapy appointments at the early stages of weight gain and recovery is gold. When Sophie left hospital the first time, she already had relationship beginning with her team. She learned through constant contact, this team was committed to her. The beginnings of trust were developing. They may not have been able to change her mind yet, but she knew that they were going to stick with her and bring her through. She also had the gentle repetition of the initial psychological separation from the anorexia already happening.

Running down previous treatment therapies, people and hospital treatments is unprofessional and really unhelpful to both sufferer and carer. There is no ‘one’ perfect fix. Why do professional assume their treatment centre offers the best and only way. Who gives them the right to run down others, particulary when they aren’t even delivering the appropriate level of base care. Different techniques work for different people not a one size fits all. You may not agree with another’s treatment ideas, but that is not to say they are wrong, nor that they won’t work.

If a treatment centre cannot even offer the basic, long term care and much needed psychological care, then what hope is there when your loved one comes home still failing, still underweight, still refusing to eat. Where do you go for help then? In rural, regional areas there are no choices available. In small countries, you are lucky to have only one treatment centre – which if that fails in its duty, then what next. We are not providing appropriate care nor offering solutions when we send home our patients still underweight, with little or no therapy and all we do is create distrust in centres and hospitals, distrust of health care professionals and allow the eating disorders to tighten/deepen their hold.

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From: http://www.eatingdisorderhope.com/treatment-for-eating-disorders/family-role

Function of Families in the Recovery Process

Eating disordered behavior reflects a dysfunctional relationship with the self. Family members cannot “fix” the eating disordered individual. It is a unique combination of heredity, environment, culture and conditioning that cause eating disorders to develop…..It is not anyone’s “fault”; it is important to remember that everyone has the same goal of a healthy and happy life for the victim of an eating disorder…be patient and non-judgmental, listen, and remember that it is their responsibility to do the recovery work.

Parents and Eating Disorders

Parents possess amazing imaginations. They picture the day when their daughter will graduate from college, marry; perhaps even have children of her own. Here’s what they never imagine: a daughter with an eating disorder. Unfortunately, millions of children, adolescents and adult women suffer from anorexia andbulimia. This means even greater numbers of parents are dealing with something they never anticipated, and worse, cannot possibly understand.

The most frequently asked question is “why?” Regrettably, there isn’t an easy answer. The best course of action for parents dealing with an eating disorder is to get help. A wise first step is to take the daughter to a physician, simply to ascertain the extent of the problem. If she has a full-blown eating disorder, then it is time to seek professional counseling for her, and very possibly, separate counseling for the parents and other children. Three important points to keep in mind: first, eating disorders rarely resolve on their own; second, if one daughter has an eating disorder, the entire family is impacted; and third, parents must not blame themselves the blame game accomplishes nothing.

Remember…Eating disorders are devastating to the individual and highly destructive to the family. You did not cause this; therefore, you cannot fix this on your own.  Please get help.

Relationships and Eating Disorders

Healthy relationships are like the tides: they ebb and flow, especially when it comes to verbal interaction. You get together with a friend who has a new love interest the entire conversation is devoted to this important topic. Conversely, you meet with that same individual a week later and now you have news that takes center stage. But most of the time, it’s back and forth, give and take, which is why it is called a dialogue.

However, if your friend develops an eating disorder, balance is very hard to maintain. This is because these disorders are by definition egocentonic; this means that the disorder is all important, and therefore, the individual becomes highly self absorbed. Consider this: if anorexia was a real-life person, she would be a huge celebrity, bathed in brilliant lights on an enormous stage, demanding all focus, all attention, be on her.

What should a person do when an eating disorder enters a friendship, or love relationship? There are many suggestions and guidelines revealed in subsequent articles, such as listening, conveying compassion, extending help, etc. But whether a friend or a significant other, keep in mind that you are important too and your needs also have value.

Remember…Relationships need balance. If you have a relationship with someone suffering from anorexia or bulimia, extend love to them, and to yourself. If you need additional help in coping with the situation, you may consider a support group for an eating disorder.  Until your eating disordered friend achieves recovery, her primary love interest -strange as it may seem will remain her eating disorder.

Siblings and Eating Disorders

Families are like little independent nations, especially when difficulty strikes. Say a ten-year old falls out of a tree and breaks his leg. The troops rally: parents take care of the medical needs, sisters and brothers bring home schoolwork, perhaps even pitch in a do a couple of extra chores until the wounded family member is recovered.

But what happens when a family member gets “sick” and doesn’t get better? Families throughout the United States are confronted with this reality every single day when a child has an eating disorder. Although undoubtedly hard on the parents, often it is the siblings who become the unwitting and unnoticed victims, especially if they are young. This is because the parents understandably focus an inordinate amount of time, thought and energy on that one child. But imagine how this is viewed by the other children. “She” gets all the love, all the attention, while “we” get ignored and over-looked. This is a dangerous dynamic that can have immediate and far-reaching consequences. Enormous resentment can build toward the child with the eating disorder, especially if she is ill for a prolonged period. The siblings, in an effort to garner the attention they crave, may start rebelling or acting out in any number of harmful, unhealthy ways.

What makes this situation so very sad is that no one is wrong: the daughter is in the grip of a terrible disorder; the parents want to help their hurting child; the other children want love and attention. This is exactly why professional family counseling is so valuable when an eating disorder is present.

Remember…If an eating disorder is an uninvited guest in your home, everyone is at risk. Please get help, and find an eating disorder rehab center.

Spouses and Eating Disorders

Although men and women often enter marriage wearing various shades of rose-colored glasses, most of us anticipate a couple of minor bumps in the road as we adjust to married life. We prepare for normal differences between men and women, and accept possible changes as two become one. But nothing can prepare one spouse for the onset of an eating disorder in the other. In the vast majority of cases, the eating disorder afflicts the wife; often the husband is utterly unaware of the condition. This is not because the man is insensitive or uncaring; it is because secrecy and deception are a part of the disorder.  A woman with anorexia often denies to herself and others that anything is amiss. It is not unusual for her to exaggerate how much and how frequently she eats. Even as she wastes away to nothing, she will swear that she “eats like a horse.” If possible, bulimia is even more ensconced in deception, but for different reasons. Whereas an anorexic woman is actually proud of her skinny body, a woman with bulimia is extremely ashamed of her behaviors. This is completely understandable; after all, consuming thousands upon thousands of calories, then vomiting, is difficult to explain, rationalize or defend. Therefore, she hides the activity, and if need be, lies.

But here is the bottom line: no matter how skilled at deception, the truth will eventually surface. On so many levels, this is devastating to the husband. What his wife is doing is unfathomable, absurd, and  heartbreaking. To him, an eating disorder makes absolutely no sense; unfortunately, to her, it does. Perhaps the most difficult aspect for a man is that he can do nothing to stop the behavior he has virtually no control.

Remember …Nothing prepared you for this. You can’t control or fix her, but you can take care of yourself. Help is available.

 

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I wanted to share this lovely post from one of my readers. As a mum with two children struggling with an eating disorder she gives some great advice, hope and strength to those of use following a similar path. The reality of living with an eating disorder in the house is different for everyone. It is tough, frightening, painful and like living in some private, hellish parallel universe. What is also frightening is how strong a link there is from eating disorders developing and fathers who are absent, abusive and neglectful.

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Hello everyone,

A swift update. My son Jordan [who likes to be called just J] ended up being sectioned and spending nearly two and a half months in the Huntercombe hospital, Stafford, UK. It was a nightmare trying to get him in the ambulance to take him on the 3 hour journey – his resistance and strength was superhuman – quite surprising for someone so weak with starvation. The dents in my freezer where he punched it is testament. I’d even struggled to disarm him when he’d grabbed a couple of bread knives and tried to stab the social workers. Once inside the hospital, he protested violently, kicked the furniture and finally fell to his knees, sobbing and breaking down totally. It was heartbreaking, but necessary. I was relived that he was finally where he needed to be. He was admitted weighing 8 1/2 stone after losing around 1/3 of his body weight. After admission his blood pressure dropped dangerously low. Thankfully the hospital staff saved his life and put him on the road to recovery. He hated it there, but was determined to do whatever it took to get himself out and he quickly and steadily gained weight. He was discharged weighing 10 stone, which is still very low for his height, but he is terrified of getting any heavier.

He is still firmly in the grip of anorexia and doesn’t really want to recover [although he tries to convince us that he has recovered.] Just like Sophie, for the first month he seemed to be doing well; he was perky and chatty, controlling his own food intake and maintaining his discharge weight. However he is now slowly losing weight again, even though he eats somewhere between 1700 and 2000 cals per day. He goes through periods of food obsession. At first he would only eat a variety of just a handful of ‘healthy’ foods; that changed and his calorie intake came largely from ‘healthy’ fluids, including lots of milk; now he’s gone to the extreme of eating mainly unhealthy food and drink, such as energy drinks, kitkats, fish and chips from the chippy and black coffee. He sees the CAMHS team regularly, but under duress. He refuses to co-operate and will only agree to being weighed and having a very brief consultation. He began haphazardly taking his anti depressants, just before stopping them completely, insisting he doesn’t need them. He refuses to see the medics and have tests re his curved spine and sleep paralysis, saying that he can’t stand being touched during examinations. Despite all of this, the old happy ‘normal’ J that we used to know – the one that used to joke around and the one who you could have an intelligent conversation with – does still exist and emerges fairly frequently. He is very changeable though, one minute he’s laughing and feeling optimistic about the future and making plans/setting goals and the next he’s angry and depressed and saying he didn’t ask to be born. He is frequently argumentative, aggressive, verbally abusive, selfish … it’s as if he’s possessed by the devil. I’ve learnt to keep my composure and walk away from him when he’s being nasty, telling him I refuse to talk to that other voice/creature. After a short time he will calm down and be nice and reasonable again and all the harsh words will have been forgotten. He never apologises though and has a complete lack of empathy for anyone else. The good thing is, he is truthful and admits his dieting had got out of hand, that it was all about control, that he does hear the ‘anorexic voice’ [saying, for example, that he used to grab a handful of cereal, put it in his mouth, but was then compelled to spit it out], that we had all been right, but that he had refused to listen, believing that we were all lying to him… He says he forces himself to ignore the Ana voice as he has no intention of ever getting sectioned again. He jokes that he’ll be visiting his younger sister Melissa in hospital when she gets sectioned. He tells me to stop worrying and that although he hates food, he knows he has to eat. He is aware that there is a strong chance of relapse and says he’s not going to let that happen. How can any parent not worry? Due to being malnourished for so long he now has low bone density and a curved spine and he has weakened his heart. He also has very poor short-term memory and constantly repeats himself. The hope is that he will settle at college next year, build up his confidence and find some happiness [he did try a college course this September but it was all too soon – all the anxieties and doubts flooded back and overwhelmed him and he had to drop out]. Thankfully he has a lovely supportive friend.

Melissa [now 15] is sliding down the same slope as J. After battling with her E.D and, for months being able to maintain her weight of around 8 1/2 stone [which is very low for her height of 5ft 8″], she is now losing weight again and struggles to tip the scales at 8 stone, fully clothed. She used to be a healthy 10 stone and a perfect size 10, but thought she was fat. She is very rigid in the handful of different foods that she allows herself and in her calorie intake, which is now only a few hundred per day. She still thinks she’s fat even though she is very thin. Thankfully she has a lovely CAMHS counsellor, who sees her weekly and her teachers/mentors at Bryn Elian school in North Wales are bending over backwards to support her – she is allowed to leave early and go in late on some days, has been able to drop unnecessary subjects and is allowed to learn maths at home. So the reduced school stress has resulted in an improvement in her confidence and mood. She is motivated to complete year 11 and pass her GCSEs and go to college next year. Hopefully she can stay healthy enough. Frequently though she gets so depressed, tearful, argumentative, nasty and even violent. Her eyes glare and something ugly speaks. It really isn’t her as the real Melly is gentle, loving, caring, helpful, beautiful and a joy to have around. Ana-Melissa sometimes threatens to self-harm. We have spent endless hours just talking and cuddling and crying together. [She’s so different to J who doesn’t do hugs]. Despite the fact she has many lovely supportive friends and lots of male admirers, she struggles to be happy. She feels constantly cold and her hair is falling out.

Their older brother and sister Andy and Shelly seem to have given up and feel that Mel is just an attention seeking difficult teen. It is difficult trying to convince them that neither J or M want to be this way, that they cannot help it, nor can they fight it alone. At least Mel had the strength to ask her school teachers and everyone else for help. I try to stay calm and understanding and supportive and positive thinking, however I’m not supermum and I sometimes can’t help raging and effing and blinding back at them. And yes, I’ve told them both to just grow up. I do get over my angry outbursts and frustration quickly though and both J & M know that I’m just releasing tension and that I’ll always be there for them, will always love them and will do whatever it takes to help them both back to health and happiness. My GP and the CAMHS team have told me to expect to be the punching bag and that this will be an up/down struggle for years, maybe a lifetime. There was only one time when I totally lost control, and that was when after the millionth time of going round and round in circles with Melissa I finally blew my top and yelled that I couldn’t take it any more. She had been my rock during our worst times with J and now she was sapping all my energy. Rather than hurt her or smash up the house as I so deeply desired at that moment, I stomped my way upstairs to my room, sat on my bed, gripped the quilt and, from the pit of my stomach, just screamed and sobbed and rocked backwards and forwards, yelling “why, why why”. This went on for a good 10 minutes until I had burst blood vessels in my face and I had nothing left inside of me. Shelly came up with a cup of sweet tea, spoke soothing words to me, told me everything’s going to be ok and helped me pull myself together. Meanwhile Melly ran outside and we found her sitting and just staring into space. Anorexia is an ugly powerful destructive demon. Daily I pray that J & M find the strength to overcome it.

If I could offer any parent advice I would say get your GP [pressure him/her if need be] to refer your child into the psychiatric services as soon as you know he/she is showing signs of a worrying eating pattern, and once there, if things don’t improve, push for admittance into an inpatient eating disorder unit/hospital. Remember, our kids will not/cannot just ‘snap out of it’. I was so angry with the old GP [we’re with a much more sympathetic and helpful one now] because he just dismissed us, saying nothing could be done unless J wanted help. He had a mocking, couldn’t-care-less attitude and told me I had no choice but to just wait until J got so ill that he’d be rushed into hospital, but by then it might be too late. I just sat there, stared at him with a look of shock horror and told him he has to get us some help. I didn’t move from my seat and just kept repeating that he has to help us. Eventually he said he would have a word with his colleagues at the local hospital and see what could be done. A few days later he phoned me to say that he had put a referral through to the Child and Adolescent services, but warned me that the waiting list was long and that we could be waiting weeks. Thankfully it only took 2 weeks.

My love and prayers go out to all who struggle with an eating disorder and all the families involved. It really is tough on everyone with all the stress and worry and constant walking on egg shells, not to mention the endless meetings with all sorts of professionals – psychiatric nurses, psychiatrists, doctors, family therapists, dieticians, school teachers/mentors/educational welfare officers… all this on top of having to earn a living.

Sorry I’ve gone on a bit! It helps to get the thoughts down. Mel also finds it therapeutic to diarise stuff that has happened in her life in relation to her father and what led to her eating disorder. She says that when she is older she will publish it on my website http://www.sharonkilby.co.uk/site/ The site exposes corruption in North Wales and the people responsible for forcing my children to live with their abusive father almost half their lives.

I have been shocked to learn that eating disorders are not so uncommon anymore. It seems that everyone knows someone who is suffering with one. Melissa knows 4 people in her school year who are sufferers. My boss knows 2 people who are anorexic, a friend of mine knows 2 anorexics [one of them fully recovered and went on to be happily married with child, the other person didn’t recover], my solicitor has an anorexic in her family… My God what is happening to our youngsters? Maybe EDs are symptomatic of the sick insane, evil society that we are forced to live in [more on that in my site.]

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the front line:

  •  the GP, general medical doctor
  • school/uni nurse or counsellor
  • parents

what are they missing:

  • the truth/facts about eating disorders
  • how serious they are
  • they are not a passing phase or something else
  • you NEED to act immediately, REGARDLESS!

This month we have 5 new inpatients to our children’s ward, one of which is in the intensive care unit. Why, because local doctors don’t react quickly enough, don’t believe, don’t refer onto appropriate care. The young men and women, then end up so ill that they need hospital care.

Worse parents and sufferers have to find through other means, word of mouth, who to see, what to do to find the appropriate medical assistance.

What does it take to get the message through??? Seriously, do local GP’s just bury their heads in the sand or pretend they know everything!!!!!

Someone asked this week on Tumblr, what happened in the years previous before this enlightened age of eating disorder care. I told her the enlightened age has still not come. Too many are still heading for inpatient treatment because no one will act early enough to help them. Too many are still dying.

 

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family therapy

As confronting and difficult as it is, getting 3 people in a room to talk about the past, feelings, where things are at the moment for them, is a good thing.

That was us this week. One mum, 2 kids and our counsellor. Sophie found it difficult, she is used to having the space all to herself and didn’t want to share. Will found it also confronting as he isn’t ready yet to talk. I no longer have anything to hide but found it hard to listen to my kids.

No one wanted to talk about dad, but we did get to talk a bit how anorexia stalled our family, and what it meant for brother and sister to live through that. With Will teetering on the edge of an ED it is was more poignant.

However as our counsellor said (and she is right), it’s about hearing, really hearing what is going on for other members of the family. We are all affected by the same events but see and feel them differently. By opening up, we can share, empathise and journey towards wholeness as a family.

It’s never about wiping out the past, but harnessing it and using it for growth and wholeness.

Our counsellor was so thrilled, we all get to do group therapy again next week!

Today Sophie sees the psychiatrist and tomorrow Will sees her. The psychiatrist has rung the dietitian Sophie saw, he has txt me. Our counsellor already knows this. Clearly a lot of phone calls and talking has gone on this week. Meaning, Will is not in a good spot and possibly his bloods have problems. Get those results tomorrow. Once Will is settled on his new medication, we will bring the dietitian into the mix of appointments. Yes it is back to the days of early recovery with Sophie, with rounds of appointments, medications and supplements.

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