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Saturday 31 December 2011

Flags and Bunnies

Two great blogs well worth reading:

Sarah Ravin's Red Flags
Extralongtail's Fluffy Bunnies

Bear and Hart - a heraldic union?

It has been a long time since I have watched really good TV.  Christmas "specials" tend to leave me quite cold and the great days of Morecombe and Wise or the Two Ronnies or Only Fools and Horses making me weep with laughter are long gone.

So I sat down with some trepidation to watch "Bear's Wild Weekends" last night.  I love Miranda Hart.  She and I are twins separated at birth and by 7 years.  A little overly tall, slightly clumsy, funny.

Bear Grylls is HWISO's hero.  A real boy's own adventurer.  I am quite fond of the old boy, too.  I suspect this is for an entirely different reason to HWISO!

It was great television and I really enjoyed every moment.  I am now trying to work out a way to swing a deal whereby I can sit in a helicopter holding BG's hand - preferably whilst still on the ground....


Lauren has been found, safe, sunburnt but alive.  She is home with her family.  Thank you all for your concern and your help with spreading the word.  I admit to bursting into tears when I heard.  

Thursday 29 December 2011

Missing Child

Lauren Richey, (on the left) is missing in Victoria, Australia.  She is very ill.  Any help with spreading her picture would be much appreciated.  Thank you

Tuesday 27 December 2011

Spot the odd one out

If you have to spend Christmas away from home, become a dog and go and spend it at the House of Mutt.  I rather love the fact that, if you look very carefully, there is a child also lying in a heap of exhaustion on the floor.

Monday 26 December 2011

What a difference some hair makes....

For my brothers
Me in May 2011 with my "old" hair

Christmas Day 2011
The tattos aren't real!

I miss my hair

Keep drinking the water

I fail to understand why a diagnosed anorexic who is underweight (BMI of 16ish) cannot be admitted to an Inpatient Unit over the Christmas period but has to weight for expert medical attention until 4th January.  Nor do I understand how a mother can be advised that 2 Fortisips (a total of 600 cals) per day "should" be OK as nutrition for the next 10 days, as long as the patient "continues to drink water".

I do not understand why a patient with anosognosia should be asked whether they "want" to be admitted.  If you do not believe you are ill, why on earth would you volunteer to go into hospital over Christmas?

I do not understand why a mother can't get instant help for her child who is consuming 300 calories a day.

If this was a patient with Alzheimers, Schizophreia, Autisms or Parkinsons, would not the Daily Mail be huffing and puffing?  Wouldn't the Sun be blasting about the patient being left to barely survive?  How about the Health Minister?  Would he not be sitting in his office, desperately coming up with a strategy to "make sure this never happens again"?

But hey - we are talking about an anorexic here.  This is just a diet gone wrong/a cry for attention/the result of abuse/stubborness, isn't it?  Why should we care?

Thursday 22 December 2011

Basal Ganglia Disfunction

Such a catchy title.  Before you even start, how do you say "basal"?  Is it said the same way as Americans say basil (bayzle)? Or like the town in Switzerland (barzle)? Or like the first part of the vinegar (basal(mic))?

All I know is that it is a very nerdy subject, that I am trying to get my head round.  If you Google it, the results are headed up by my new favourite subject - Deep Brain.  There is talk of Tourettes, movement, OCD, strokes, Huntingtons, Parkinsons, palsy, schizophrenia and then this stuff about eating disorders.

Is it sad that all I want for Christmas is the Lask/Frampton book?

Organisation Part 2

My mother is due to arrive for Christmas any moment.
I know she will enjoy redoing the saucepan cupboard. I am not so sure about the jumper cupbaord, though.  I think she may be a little miffed that they are all muddled up and not colour co-ordinated.

However, I am not going to let her touch a single thing until she tells me where my jeans are.  They are not a) where I left them; b) in my cupboard; c) in my other cupboard; d) in my chest of drawers.  I have been forced to wash and dry my one pair of jeans overnight for two weeks now.

Let's hope when she returns to the scene of the crime, she might have Total Recall.....

Tuesday 20 December 2011


I admit I am way in over my head here but it is something that is coming up more and more.  So here's my cockamamie theory.

Mental illness has been all about the "mind" and Freud and his psycho-balderdash but we are now discovering that it is more and more about the brain, the physical entity.  Recent work done by clever clinicians in different "mental illness" fields (and some in the same fields coming to the same conclusion from different angles) seems to show that a physical malfunction in the brain can explain a variety of different disorders.

"At present, nearly all of the therapeutic approaches for treating eating disorders have been borrowed from the treatment of other disorders. In addition to factors noted above, a major impediment to developing novel treatments for eating disorders is the lack of a clear understanding of their underlying pathophysiology. Although pathophysiology has been fundamental to the science of cancer, heart disease, and endocrine disorders, the science of mental illness has largely been preoccupied with diagnosis, the development of theories based on observations of behavior, and the promotion of treatments suggested by case reports. This picture is changing with the increasing recognition that mental illnesses are brain disorders (Insel & Quirion, 2005). Unlike neurological disorders with focal lesions, mental disorders appear to involve abnormal activity in brain systems. One implication of this recognition of mental disorders as brain disorders is that the pathophysiology of mental illnesses, including eating disorders, can be approached with the tools of modern neuroscience as well as the behavioral and observational tools of psychology." ( - for full article)

Bring on Cool Brain Guy....

So I get all that.  I understand it is time to move away from the flim flammery of whether you fancy your father and/or are feeling upset because you were born without a penis (Huh??).  What I think we are missing here is using the whole body, including the brain, for diagnostic and treatment purposes.

When treating an eating disorder, refeeding the body and brain to a healthy weight is the first step on the road to recovery.  It is about food, not feelings.  However, other "mental illnesses" also result in a serious lack of care for physical wellbeing. I am not talking only about deliberate self harm here, in the form of cutting or drugs or somesuch.  I am also talking about neglecting to eat properly, wash, general cleanliness or, at the other end of the spectrum, overwashing and obsessiveness about cleanliness.  Surely, all mental health patients should be helped with their PHYSICAL wellbeing too?

What I am saying (waffling?) or rather asking; Is it time to stop treating the brain as an entirely separate entity from the body and start treating the body as a whole?  

Monday 19 December 2011

Pandas, Strep and useful information

My good friend Laura (the Fairy Blogmother) has been blogging about Pandas.  I felt I should share this information too.

Strep infections are very common.  We have certainly experienced one or two in this family.  Looking back, I wonder if 10 days of penicillin could have saved us 18 months of heartbreak.

Sunday 18 December 2011

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Internet Safety

Although those of us in the murky twilight world of eating disorder care have to deal with a slightly more extreme version of keeping our loved ones safe from unsuitable sites, this thread by our new Dad on the forum, is very good advice for all parents.


I had a bath this morning.  Not a long soak, with facepack, book et al but a bath nonetheless.  It was bliss.  You don't know what you've got 'till it's gone.

Thursday 15 December 2011

Nice tractor

This is just plain silly but it has some nice cows for M, C, M, Carrie Arnold and Stephanie Milstein.

It has  a pretty cool combine too. 

Brain in your guts

Does this explain a lot about serotonin levels in eating disorder patients or am I making a leap too far? Thanks darling M, for this.  

We don't need no education.....

Having had a long conversation with another UK ATDT mother yesterday, I decided to post a poll on the forum about users being discouraged from using the forum as a means of support.  The results have been surprising.

A lot of parents and carers do not make public to their children that they use the forum.  This is a viewpoint that I understand.  It is a personal space, a safe haven, a evening with your best friend and a bottle of white.

Some of us have been vigorously encouraged by our children's eating disorder to leave the forum, because that is the one place that many of us have found all the information and support we need to help our children recover.

But clinicians?  What have they got to hide? Surely a carer who is up to date with the latest research, evidence based research at that, a good understanding of the etiology of an eating disorder, its complications, presentations and with a worldwide, 24 hour support network, would be a blissful scenario?  Hmmm

The Grass is Greener

on the other side of the Channel.

Bullie (not his real name) may be moving to pastures new.   He has done his job admirably but now we need to let him go and get a new Service Engineer for the herd.  He is not destined for the deep freeze.  He plods inexorably on in his search for greener grass.  He is being looked over by a Belgian breeder this afternoon and soon may be getting his passport and heading for the Dutch French border region.

I shall miss him because, despite appearances, he is easily pleased.  Just give him food and woman and he is in clover.  Enough silly puns.

Yoga and Yenta

I stole the title from the Fairy Blogmother.  In response to this post, the comment came that the voice of the forum could be heard - "Breathe" and "Eat".

 Or just BE.

Monday 12 December 2011

Are they human or are they doctors?

I have to admit that I have always held doctors in awe.  All that training and knowing the names of all those complicated fiddly bits inside the body makes me tired just thinking about it. Those who then go on to specialise in psychiatry or brain surgery seem to spend most of the first third of their adult life training. In the last few years, I have met (both in real life and cyberly) a lot of very grown up doctors and other clinicians and held long conversations with them. 

I prefer the conversations on the internet because I can go off and Google pub med and other such websites to understand what they are saying, without appearing like a complete idiot.  I sometimes email my Fairy Blogmother to ask her or, if its Fairburn, I ask our resident expert.  I find face to face conversations difficult but tend to nod my head and then rush off to find an internet connection before I forget the gist of what they were saying...

Imagine my surprise on getting an email from an eminent Maudsley professor on Sunday morning, teasing me about my crush on super cool brain guy.  It just said "Tee Hee".  At least I didn't have to google that one!

iCloud therefore I am

So three weeks after my last phone died a death, I was due for my upgrade today.  I have got an iPhone.  It is white and seems to ping a lot - maybe because I get a lot of emails?  It has someone called Silly living inside it who is supposed to answer questions.  Silly is rather dull.  He doesn't understand swear words - a necessary part of life when you get a new phone.  Questions such as "How do I get back to the main menu?"were not answered and when younger d asked him to marry her, he wasn't very keen.  I suspect he doesn't do Bevan humour.

Hey ho!

Saturday 10 December 2011

Shape shifting

Elder d and I had a lovely morning shopping in Bury St Edmunds.  I was wittering on about CRT and how much I was looking forward to doing our trial with Kate Tchanturia.  This arose out of an interior decorating tip I picked up from my wonderful friend (and witch) CMP, last Thursday.

She had cleverly cleaned out her cutlery drawer and put her knives, forks, spoons and teaspoons in to separate pots.  So I bought three large and two small of these and have given myself a new drawer in the kitchen and have my utensils neatly in a row on top of the dishwasher.  Job done.  Well almost.

The other two members of the family, HWISO and younger d, have a problem with set shifting.  This means that when they return from their various outings at about 6 pm this evening, there is going to be a little uncomfortable period set aside for complaints and grumbles.  I have found if I stand firm, the whinging  eventually dies down until I change something else.  My own form of CRT, I suppose.

I just hope they have finished their splutters before the start of Strictly Come Dancing.

Body dissatisfaction

An interesting point raised by Carolyn Becker.  She is a great proponent of the body image programme, of which I have been faintly sniffy and dismissive.  However, something she said has really stuck a chord.

The body image programme is not specifically designed to "prevent" eating disorders. Hopefully, that would be a by-product.  It is intended to promote a positive body image and spread the whole different horses for courses, rather than androgynous stereotypes.  This is not a bad thing, per se, as long as any trumpet callings about prevention are left to one side, rather than placed centre stage.  Anything that helps build self-esteem and is, essentially, a kind act is fine and dandy, in my book.  However, there are lots of people trying to debunk this "positive body image" programme from an entirely different angle.

People are trying to debunk it by saying that a negative body image is a "good" way to combat the media, sorry....I meant to say the "obesity crisis".  Now that to me, is really screwed up.


When I went off to London last week, I left my mother in charge at home.  She was wonderful.  The dogs and children and HWISO loved having her.  Apparently, she doesn't nag about homework and is always grateful for a glass of wine.

And I love her.  So very much.

BUT she did some "organising" of my stuff whilst she was here.  The saucepan cupboard, a week later, is nearly back to its organised chaos - the ones I use most at the front and the others jammed behind so they cascade with a satisfying crash should you dislodge the wrong one.  My sweater cupboard is a whole new problem.  I had them organised in type - polonecks on one shelf, cardigans on another and so on and so forth.  Mum, having been shooed out of the kitchen, idled away a lovely hour putting them all into colours, rather than types.  This has made getting dressed this fine, crispy, cold winter morning a little more stressful than normal due to being unable to find favourite poloneck as it was stashed carefully near the bottom of the pastels pile.  Sigh.

Thursday 8 December 2011

Military wives or the X factor?

How could anyone resist this wonderful song, lyrics taken from letters to soldiers who were serving in Afghanistan?  I do not watch the X Factor so I am unable to comment about the contestants.  However, this charity record, released on 19th December, SHOULD go to No 1.

Have you ordered yours yet?

Autism and the psychoanalyst

A distressing film.  I found this because of a brilliant blog.  Two paragraphs I have to quote in full in case you don't have time to read the whole article:

The psychoanalysts in the film quote Bruno Bettelheim (a proponent of the "refrigerator mother" theory of autism), Sigmund Freud (father of the Oedipus complex and penis envy), and Jacques Lacan when discussing the causes and treatment of autism. In the 1960s, Lacan described psychotic and autistic children as victims of the alienation of a psychogenic mother who is unable to separate from a child who is a substitute for the penis she was born without.

 In the first interview shown, a psychoanalyst explains that when treating a child with autism, toy crocodiles with their large mouth full of sharp teeth represent mothers wanting to eat their young, and that a phallus symbol representing the father (in this case a pen) needs to block the mother's mouth to keep her from devouring her child.


Prevention - better than cure?

I think the place to start would be to define exactly what we mean by prevention

prevention [prɪˈvɛnʃən]
1. the act of preventing
2. a hindrance, obstacle, or impediment

pre·vent  (pr-vnt)
v. pre·vent·edpre·vent·ingpre·vents
1. To keep from happening: took steps to prevent the strike.
2. To keep (someone) from doing something; impede: prevented us from winning.
3. Archaic To anticipate or counter in advance.
4. Archaic To come before; precede.

Which definition would you use for prevention?  If we are talking about archaic definitions (anticipation), would this mean that with the use of, say, bio markers, mental illness could be anticipated and then prevented? And what exactly are we trying to prevent?  The end stages of a disorder (psychosis, starvation) or prevent that actual "faulty wiring"?  Comments please.

Tuesday 6 December 2011


HWISO has given up smoking.  It's not tense here, or anything  Just saying.....

A Georgian In London

Kate Tchanturia, psychologist, at KCL is one very cool lady.  I saw her talk the other day.  She spoke in English, her third language (after Georgian and Russian).  I always admire anyone who can talk more than one language, let alone discuss the workings of the brain, complete with large plastic model to point at.  She was discussing Cognitive Remediation Therapy.  My really intelligent question at the end of her fascinating talk was when was her book coming out.  She smiled sweetly and said it was still in the trial phase but there may be a chance that a few parents could try it out at home.

This is a fascinating therapy on so many levels and across so many areas of mental disorder, not just eating disorders.  The main aim, as far as I can work out, is to increase flexibility in cognitive tasks.  There are no points and, therefore, no prizes.  It would be a set of exercises with no winner by dint of intellectual excellence.  Thus, I immediately saw how useful it would be for our family to do some of these exercises (not that we are ultra competitive or anything).  I see endless possibilities outside the mental health field as well.  

I am hoping that Kate will pick me out of the 25 or  so families who have volunteered so far.  I also hope that someone, somewhere will fund Kate's research so that all 25 of us volunteer families can have a go.

Xylem and Phloem

Eldest daughter went for her interview for 6th form at the Perse on Saturday afternoon.  We are not entirely sure it went well after a discussion about Xylem. She has always been slightly dyslexic, so has had to concentrate really hard on spelling.  This means that her pronunciation can sometimes be a little erratic.  Thus saying Xylem out loud, without knowing you pronounce an X as a Z made for a little confusion.

This lead me on to the difference between reading something and hearing it.  I have never had any imagination.  I did not "get" the whole Harry Potter thing until I saw the first film.  I was then able to whisk through the rest of the books, as I had a clear visual picture of what Hogwarts looked like.  I passed all my exams by being able to visualise my notes.  However, I have never managed to "see" things after reading descriptive passages in books.

I suspect this is why hypnotism to help me give up smoking didn't work.  All that asking me to visualise numbers going backwards left me totally cold.  I have never been able to count sheep, when unable to sleep either.    Perhaps, this puts me on the Aspergers spectrum?  However, having done the AQ test, I got a very low score.  I only know one other person who scored lower than me - the wonderful mum of my friend, C.

We have had many discussions about Janet Treasure's Skills Based Learning  on the Forum.  I found the book rather dry and wordy when I first read it.  I didn't really get it and it all seemed either too technical or too trite - all those animal analogies distressed me, as I was a bit of everything, except ostrich!  However, once I had met Prof T and discovered what a wonderfully warm, kind and funny woman she is, the whole book suddenly became alive for me. When she explains the sciencey bits, she does so without condescension and she can encapsulate an animal by a facial expression.

I am not complaining about my inability to imagine backdrops to great literary works.  Life without visualising Mansfield Park has not been particularly hampered.  You see, I can say Xylem, as well as spell it.  However, I have no idea what it is.....

Dog Days

I have been nagged by my great friend Sarah to do another blog.  To be honest, I have been wiped out by my trip to London for the Maudsley Carers Conference and have been trying to assimilate the information.  But since Sarah asked, I thought I would give her wonderful dog hotel, The House of Mutt, a bit of PR.  Not that she needs it, being the official Dog Hotel for Harrods.

Now Sarah is pretty cool.  She was the first female officer in the Household Cavalry Regiment.

Now she, and her husband David, run the most wonderful luxurious and rumbustious dog hotel.  In Suffolk, near Knettishall Heath, the hotel organises wonderful holidays for city dogs.  I just happen to love the photos.

The reason I love Sarah is she is so much like me - a no-nonsense type of girl.  Very few Terms and Conditions start like this:

Before outlining the more usual terms and conditions, it should be emphasised that all dogs at the House of Mutt will be walked on fields, woods, riverbanks, beaches and forests, and will be living in a home environment alongside a small number of similarly socialised dogs.  Every care will be taken to ensure the dogs are safe at all times, but if owners are not happy with this level of fun and freedom they should arrange for isolated, kennelled accommodation elsewhere – what I call the ‘hermetically sealed box option’.

Saturday 3 December 2011

Didn't we have a lovely time, the day we went to Janet's?

Registered: July 31, 2007
Posts: 5,379
    Today at 02:24 PM#41

I am equal parts GREEN WITH ENVY and CHEERING LOUDLY for this wonderful moment in parent/carer history. The event sounds wonderful in tone, in usefulness of content, and inclusion. I am so happy for F.E.A.S.T. -UK, and for all the wonderful clinicians and researchers and parents and others who planned and shared the day. 

But the envy... so wish I'd been there!

Laura Collins (Moderator and forum founder)
Daily blog post at:

You could move, Laura.

Thursday 1 December 2011

Sitting on a Train

Life has moved on since I used to commute in the early 1990's.  You can get WiFi on the train and everyone seems to chat very loudly on their mobile phone.  I have just overheard someone ask "Have you been fusioned as well, mate?".  It seems that they speak a new language as well.  What is fusioned?  I thought it was something to do with nuclear science or cooking.  I am very tempted to ask but, with the hair not quite back yet, I look like an escapee from the local prison anyway and fear I may send the young man screaming for the guard....

A call to arms from the wonderful Laura Collins  As we do not have growth charts here in the UK, I am not sure I am going to be able to cobble together any relevant data for her, but any of you who do have charts, please follow the instructions and give her what she needs.