For anyone affected by anorexia – a mother’s words.
My Mum wrote this last night. It has gone to a journalist writing a piece for Top Sante magazine, but I wanted to put it here, in its raw form because it is the honest voice from a mother who had an anorexic daughter – me. I really think Mum’s writing might help some people.
To be honest you do blame yourself, “is it something I have done?”, “if you were a good Mother then your daughter would not have anorexia”, this is something that goes through your mind and of course you imagine that is what everyone else is thinking too, sometimes it is and they more or less infer it in, “just make her eat”, “if she was mine I wouldn’t let her out until she ate”. Over the years we have learnt that it was not our fault, Katie becoming anorexic and only in the last few years have we genuinely stopped hitting ourselves with big sticks over what we could have done differently before and during the time she was ill, we cannot change what has happened but we can learn from it. We maybe could have made her eat and then wait for her to be sick, or take laxatives, eating was not the main problem, the voices in her head were. Of course starvation does horrible things to the mind and body, each issue looping into another, there really is such a thin line between the danger zone to the mind and body when it is deprived of essential fluids and calories. It also shows how fantastic the human being is to survive such abuse. There were consequences such as osteoporosis, lack of menstruation, not knowing if fertility is going to be an issue, going to countless clinic appointments would often end in tears of frustration for both of us.
I think that although occasions such as Xmas were often fraught with tension, tears and tantrums, walking on eggshells, it was sadness at Katie’s sadness that was the most soul destroying. Her eyes had not one ounce of life in them, blue nails, blue lips, and lifeless eyes. No pleasure in anything or anyone, everything was ultimately dictated by anorexia, enjoyment did not come into the equation. I do remember when Katie was on the mend and she ate a Magnum lolly, her Dad was almost in tears at that. You could understand why people kept their distance from her as she was so difficult to be around most of the time, there were rare glimpses of the real Katie which shone but then it would be gone.
Many times I wanted to shake this thing out of her, especially when the trust had gone, was she lying to me, she would accuse me of lying to her about there not being calories in body lotion, had I put butter in the potatoes, watching her count out raisins and one and a half fig rolls, what 15 year old should be doing this.
I had thought the worst time ever was when she was admitted to hospital but in fact I think it was when she was discharged as very quickly she went back over and lost weight, Katie was measured in grams, like an injured bird or hedgehog and the fact that a few grams would make such a difference was alarming, but a difference they would make. Any disappointment, weight loss, argument would cause worry, “would this make her stop eating, impede her recovery”, “make her angry, lash out verbally,” would it make me angry and lash out, sometimes it would and sometimes it would not. Katie being home again after 9 months was such hard work and so confusing, I think the feelings of guilt of me, my husband the other children not being able to cope with the anorexia and sometimes blaming Katie not the illness was hard.
As Katie began to recover there were many steps forward and steps back but her determination to get well was dogged and she did it. Katie can now say truly that she is no longer an anorexic; she is a writer, traveller and lovely person. I know there will be good and bad times for her, like there is for everyone, but she is a brave woman, and would rather try and sometimes not get it right, than be too scared to try at all, and I think she also now knows that things do not have to be perfect!