Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Calling it a day

It is now over a year since I began this journal and I can hardly believe the journey that we have been on.

Waif, whilst still slender, is now healthy, strong and glowing.  In fact so much so that I find myself beginning to wonder if she ever had an eating disorder.  Then I read my first few posts and recall the absolute despair and all consuming worry that I felt just 14 months back.  I was so worried that she might end up being one of the 25% who end up dying in order to be in control.  I realise that Waif will have a life long vulnerability and that she will always be a quirky girl, a girl of extremes but now have high hopes again for her.

So what did the trick?

I wish I knew.  Obviously, we had access to world class treatment at the Maudsley Hospital and that cannot be a co-incidence.  Having said that, I can't for the life of me fathom what they DID that made a difference....we met once a week at Waif's worst, had a chat and had her weighed.  She cried.  Sometimes I cried.  She claimed nothing at all else was wrong in her life.

We also moved her schools in January of this year to a much less pressured place (away from the top 10 in the country girls' school she was at which has a reputation for being a hotbed of anorexia).  We got rid of the au pairs and I stayed at home for the year rather than working.  That meant I could keep her home for 1 or 2 days a week to ensure she ate properly, and could also supervise breakfast and tea as well as supper.  Perhaps these were all important factors too?

I wish I knew what worked as I would love to pass on any tips.  Perhaps it was for Waif the combination of happenings that all signalled to her that her weight was not cool.  It was not okay.  It was not attractive.  It was not healthy.  And that we loved her so very very much that watching her starve herself was the worst pain we have ever felt and my heart goes out to anyone still in that position, and doubly so to any girl whose waking and sleeping thoughts are dominated by the perverted urge to be skeletal.

So now I must let go a little.  Waif is 14 and extraordinarily determined, clever and hardworking.  She is a very demanding girl (she has delivered me a weekly menu which I have to stick to, and supper has to be on the table at 6pm as she insists on being asleep by 8pm) balanced by the fact that she is also an incredibly thoughtful and generous person - she helps out so much at home without ever being asked, cares well for all her friends and has an instinct for knowing who is hurting and how to help them.

Waif now does a video fashion blog.  She doesn't want me to watch it, so I don't.  I think this is where the sleeping has come from - she thinks she will grow more (her latest obsession).  She has lost the bags under her eyes completely and her face is no longer drawn and sunken.  In fact she is looking utterly beautiful :-)

Waif cycles to school and now wants to do it alone.  Twice in the past month, we have seen cycling accidents and had to call an ambulance.  Once was a woman who was cycling with a dangling plastic bag on her handlebars that got caught in the wheel and she went flying (no helmet), and the second time was a man commuting to work (presumably) all kitted out and being hit side on whilst engaged on a roundabout.  Despite this, Waif is refusing to wear a helmet as it will "ruin her hair".  I may trade a helmet for solo cycling.

Waif has always been a girl not to do things by halves;  if she is set homework, she does it forwards, backwards and illustrated.  I have no doubt that (barring, heaven forbid, sickness or injury) she will get a string of A*s at GCSe and "A" level and that she will rise to the very top of whichever profession she chooses.  If I ever needed to employ a lawyer/ doctor/ architect and Waif was one, then I would be utterly confident that she would be the most creative, most efficient and most industrious of the lot.  I am so glad that she is not throwing away all this potential.  Of course, I would also be completely happy if she chose not to pursue a high powered career but found self fulfilment in some other way (charity work, raising a family) which I have no doubt she would also do brilliantly.

I am so lucky to have her.  And also lucky to have had such lovely followers who have at times lent me moral support, sage advice and sometimes a much needed nudge.  Thank you and good bye.


  1. I wish you and Waif all the best. Thank you so much as well for being committed to your daughter and genuinely caring for her to this extent. It is very inspiring, and I have been regularly heartened through reading her blog.

  2. **your blog. (sorry, typo). :P
    Also, I don't want to dampen the mood by giving one final nudge, yet I do want to encourage you to continue being vigilant, as you know, whilst Waif has already made immense progress, there is a very high relapse rate for eating disorders and it is important to be guarded for the rest of one's life and recognise the warning signs. That said, it is fantastic that you have both come so far!

  3. I have never commented on here before, but I have read your blog in its entirety, and just wanted to wish you and all of your family all the best for the future. Take care. x

  4. Best of luck for the future...maybe do an update sometime! You are such a dedicated mother - Waif sounds amazing at the moment.
    I would echo the above. It's very easy to slip back incredibly quickly - a tiny weight loss can retrigger. Be aware but let Waif LIVE!

  5. Hope Springs (anorexia mummy)28 September 2010 at 18:04

    Thank you all. Yes, I will remain ever vigilant. I have just been listening to the moving tributes from today's service at Southwark Cathedral for all those who have died of eating disorders. Had I known about the service in advance, I would have attended. I will get Waif to watch the news later if I can persuade her to stay up past 8 o'clock!

    Oh, and we haven't stopped the Maudsley yet even though Waif is out of the anorexic range as she has not yet reached target weight, and I presume they will keep her on some kind of recall. We have been so very very lucky to have had that care and I wish that everyone could have our amazing experience. I agree that Waif needs now to live her life. I am sure she will and that she will bring happiness and joy to a lot of people throughout her life. Oooh, I am getting all sentimental now but it really is life or death stuff, tragically. I wish you could all meet her!

  6. You're amazing, and your story has inspired me a lot. It makes me kind of simultaneously elated and emotional to see how much of a dedicated mother you are to Waif. Anyway, all the best wishes for the future. And to echo the above poster, an update would be fabulous at some stage! :D Take care. x

  7. I have just read your story from the very beginning and... wow. Your family is amazing to go through that and you have been such a wonderful mother to Waif. Im glad she is doing better now - its like a happy ending that is hopefully just a happy beginning for all to come! :-) No relapse I hope.
    Reading this whole blog was like being absorbed by a captivating book... I couldn't put it down. :)