Tuesday, 22 September 2009

How The Maudsley went

Waif had her first visit yesterday to the Eating Disorders Clinic at The Maudsley.

It is a beautiful centre - very clean, state-of-the art and professional. Waif had a whole team devoted to her for 3 hours: a psychiatrist, a family therapist, a psychologist and an assistant psychologist.

Waif, hubby and I were interviewed by the psychiatrist and handed in our questionnaires. There were cameras and sound equipment in the room and the rest of the team watched us on screens. That was unnerving but we quite soon grew used to it .

Waif coped seemingly well with all sorts of questions: she was consistent in saying that she was happy, thought she was too thin and liked food and eating. Her questionnaire scored ZERO for eating and any other mental disorder. And yet, and yet, her weight for height (or some such term) is 77%, and anything below 84% is considered anorexic. Waif was upset by the therapist suggesting that perhaps Waif was keeping things back.

On her self appraisal quality of life study, Waif said that she had not felt miserable on a single day in the last 28 days, had lots of friends and loved her family :-)

We were each asked at the start to say one thing that we liked in each other. Waif said that Hubby was fun, and then said she couldn't answer for me because she liked everything and I was perfect. Sigh, being a love fest sort, and unoriginal, and because it is true, I said I felt the same about her: she is adorable, hard-working, empathetic, kind, funny, interesting.... She also put that she is closest of all to older daughter. I told OD who was flattered and pleased :-) We are so lucky to have children that get on so well with one another, and always have.

The psychiatrist thought that Waif should have a scan for the lump on her neck. I have booked an appointment with the GP for this afternoon. Although unlikely, perhaps there is a purely physical reason for Waif's weight loss. She has certainly been eating well in my presence recently but only slowly gaining a kilo or two.

They sent us away with a meal plan and an appointment for next Friday.

So, all went seemingly well.

But the Waif has been in tears of despair and agony since we have returned - 17 hours of tears and misery. She was so happy before :-( Perhaps the Maudsley is a blind alley. Perhaps I am making a naturally thin child deeply self conscious and unhappy :-( I have called the psychiatrist just now to talk to him but they have two more new patients today and are very busy so there is no guarantee of a call back. I am not sure what I will say - I am tempted to float the idea of Waif not returning if she continues to eat well and put on weight, but first I want to know if her kind of reaction is normal or not.

Waif has also picked at her skin in the night so that she has raw patches along her arms and legs :-(

I am about to sit with her and watch a gentle Disney film with her wrapped in my arms and see if she feels better.


  1. I'm sorry that she's having a hard time. For what it's worth, I think that younger patients with AN are less likely to express body image concerns or endorse trying to lose weight than older patients. Nevertheless, they might be unable to gain to a healthy level without help. (I don't think this means they are untruthful. Younger kids might experience the disorder differently.) There is also something called "atypical anorexia nervosa" where patients don't express a drive for thinness, but show other symptoms. Overall, outcomes for atypical AN are pretty good, so that's encouraging. Focusing on helping her eating enough to get to a healthy weight and giving her lots of support, as you are doing, seem like important first steps no matter what. Hang in there and good luck.

    This article might be of interest:

  2. I wish your whole family luck in fighting this terrible disease. I too am helping my daughter overcome her problems. It helps to read that I am not alone.