Sunday, 13 March 2011

Looking to the future

I have made a new friend at running club.  She is a little older than I am and her daughter is 20 years old and at Oxford University.  I heard on the grapevine that her daughter, like Waif, has had anorexia since she was 14 years old.  She too has been treated at The Maudsley so we bumped into each other locally the other day and got chatting.

Sigh, I assumed that her daughter (will call her Lucy) would be fine by now - happy at Oxford etc but it turns out that it was not that simple.  Lucy had to postpone her place by a year in order to spend 7 months as an inpatient for treatment and is still only 42kg, despite being about the same height as Waif (about 165cm).  Apparently she phones from college complaining that she is fat because she has put on 0.5kg (FFS she must be skeletal), and has then lost it by the next week  :-(

My new friend tells me that they took part in an experimental group family therapy at the Maudsley a few years back and that she felt happy at that time that Lucy had not done any of that food throwing/ aggression that others talked about.....only to go through it herself the next year.

This tells me several important things:

- not to get complacent - just because Waif has made good progress recently does not mean that she will not relapse and have this horrid disease for years and years

- to not relax on Waif gaining her target weight of 51.5kg

- to not expect that the course of the disease will not change its nature  :-(

-  that I am right not to be intending to return to work in the near future.  I have instead applied to do a part time Masters course  (in science communication).  This will involve one day a week in college and the other studying I will be able to fit in around Waif's needs.

I have not weighed Waif recently although I try to gently remind her several times a day to eat.  Often I get an "oops, I only had cereal for breakfast" (this morning for instance) or somesuch in reply at which point she will go and have some more.  As she now has a budding social life, she is having quite a few meals out of the home so I have no real idea of what is eaten but I am trusting her for now and also reminding her that she needs to be 48.5kg by 31 March if her orthodontic braces are to be fitted.

Meantime, I am in the middle of marathon training.  I ran the first 18 miles of the course this morning so am having a little sit down this afternoon.  I have almost given up on hoping to lose a couple of kg before the race, which is 5 weeks away, as it is so much more important that Waif does not see me skipping meals (which I also find very easy to do, just like her).  Half of me wants to be independent and not have life revolve around an eating disorder but half of me just wants Waif to be better more than anything else in the world.  It is easy to forget how worried I was this time last year and to forget to keep concentrating on recovery.

The battle against my daughter's anorexia is my real marathon.


  1. Anorexia is such an awful and secretive disease. I can't imagine how you feel as a mother trying to monitor your daughter and ensure she is not relapsing. You have remained so on top of her recovery throughout the entire process which is truly amazing. Sure, relapse is possible but it is not inevitable. Everyone's recovery journey is different and Waif's may be drastically different from Lucy's.

    It might be important not to let Waif and Lucy connect. Since both seem to be in different yet still vulnerable places individually, becoming friends could be very triggering. This is an issue I have run into with attending different support groups. I'll want to become closer friends with some of the girls, but then when we start talking outside of group it becomes triggering and detrimental to my own recovery.

    I'm not sure how Waif was during her anorexia, but I know that when I am restricting I isolate myself a lot. I know you're worried about her being away from home for meals a lot, but the fact that she wants to be out at all is likely a healthy sign. Is she getting together with friends who don't have eating disorders? If so, this sounds very healthy, especially if she can relate to them. When I'm in my eating disorder I can't even relate to people who are not anorexic's like I don't even know how to talk with them because they have never experienced "my world." Hanging out with average teens is probably a good sign that Waif feels like she fits in and is a normal teen herself, not necessarily an anorexic.

    Still, it is so important you monitor her as you are doing. You seem to have found a great balance in giving her freedom yet ensuring her intake is where it ought to be. This is awesome! Congratulations to you, Waif is very lucky to have such a wonderful and caring mother!

  2. Hi, I have been following your blog for a while and think that you have been incredibly supportive and loving towards your daughter. It is easy, once out of the 'danger zone' to relax. Speaking from experience, I would suggest that you continue to give her support around food and encourage her to continue to gain. WHen I am closer to a safe weight I find it easier to slip back into old habits that can be unhealthy.

    Good luck with the marathon!

  3. Hi,

    My name is Emma, and I am a reporter at the Southwark News newspaper.

    I have been following your blog for a while, and admire your bravery and honesty in dealing with this awful disease.

    I wanted to get in contact because I am looking into doiong an article about the Maudsley method, and wondered if I could chat to you about it.

    Might I be able to contact you about it by email?

    My details are or 0207 231 5258. I hope to hear from you soon.

    Best wishes,