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Tuesday, 24 February 2015

A Severe And Enduring Anorexia

I had a very anguished time this week writing to the mother of a young child who has been refusing food and water for quite a while. Obviously the child is on a section and has spent months on a feeding tube. There has been some progress and this is quickly followed by setbacks. The child says that she does not want to live with mum for reasons we cannot understand, but there is nowhere else to go. The mother is now shattered with the strain of it all and has broken down.

I have decided to write something for parents and carers whose loved ones have a severe and enduring eating disorder. There is a lot out there telling parents what to do, what kind of caring to offer, and how to speak to someone who clearly hates herself, himself and probably everybody else. When a loved one is lying passive on a hospital bed, and when we cant get through to them, how do we really reach out to help their carers.

So I have written a guide and I will publish it on our website when I have had a chance to get some ideas from all the other lovely members of our Network. Basically what I have to say is this. Recovery from a severe and enduring eating problem is an existential struggle that may take a very long time to resolve if it ever will.  A therapist will only reach down to the pain inside the anorexia when the patient is ready, but when will that be?  We must always love the sufferer but we also have to live and help other members of the family to connect to what is good in life.

This may involve changing something in ourselves rather than expecting someone else to change. What are our own black holes and deficits?  What do we need to grow as human beings?  We need to pay heed to these and let our loved ones see that we are also accepting change.  Then by the grace of secret communication they will learn that they aren't the only ones who need to be fixed. And we have to hope that this understanding will help them to be healed in the fullness of time; hope without expectation and a willingness to be very, very patient.

Look for my article in the Carers section of our website www.eating-disorders.org.uk anytime soon.

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Obesity As Disability

I also can't let this pass without comment and please excuse the f (fat) word.

In Northern Ireland and also in Europe,  Obesity is now qualified as a disability and our counsellors are having some thoughts about that. With obesity levels now running at over 50% of our population are we all going to be happy if obese persons apply for disability benefit putting pressure on things like

Care for senior citizens,
The provision of nursery places,
Help in hospices for the aged ill -  thus freeing up much-needed beds in our beleaguered hospitals

While I would give every bone in my body to help someone with a weight issue, and I deplore fat -teasing and bullying, I can't muster any enthusiasm for this crazy decision.

As one of my counsellors put it...with rights come responsibilities. If someone is too fat to work / has problems controlling food, perhaps they might seek informed help from an obesity or eating disorder specialist. Go see a doctor and ask for psychological help. This with the proviso that benefits might become available when they can demonstrate that they have taken some steps to deal with the problem.

Watch this space for more.

Anorexia Porn: The Good, Bad And Ugly.

During the last 6 months I have read 3 manuscripts of anorexic suffering written by people who have partially recovered and 4 books about anorexic suffering which have actually found a publisher.

Our staff here at the National Centre for Eating Disorders,  who know about a lot about eating disorders,  have also read these works (no confidentiality requested) and we have all ended up dismayed and overwhelmed by the grisly details of what people have done and thought as a result of their illness often for years on end.

We have Post Traumatic Anorexia Disorder for which the cure is rest, compassion for ourselves and others, and taking care of ourselves.

But as we move in to eating disorders awareness week must ask for whom is this useful, for Sufferers?  The Public?  Therapists?  No one?

You may know me by now, I say what I think and I don't play the party line. If you really want to know about the good, the bad and the ugly anorexia porn,  check out what I have written on  our website blog (I don't want to write it twice). The bad anorexia porn might be a reality star posting bony pictures of herself on Instagram.

But are these accounts any better? If you want to know what I really find valuable, follow this link.