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Wednesday 27 June 2012

Advice to a mother on sending her daughter to college.straight out of an Eating Disorders Programme.

My dear friend

I have thought long and hard about this. You must understand that I am a parent advocate and have no clinical training and what I am about to say is peer-to-peer advice, based on observations of other families facing this dilemma.

I understand you wanting your child to resume a normal life and I understand your hopes and dreams for her. I know you have planned and saved and bargained and that you both probably find it too difficult to visualise a life other than the one you have dreamed of and talked about. I understand that you want to leave the eating disorder behind, that you are sick of it, you hate it and you want to stop its vile destructive behaviour cutting a swathe through the future you want for your child.

I think that you think that by giving her a new start, she may choose to leave her eating disorder behind, shut away in a keepsake box, tucked hidden and forgotten under her bed or at the back of your wardrobe. I understand that you are different, that your family is not my family, that your experiences are different from mine. I understand that your child is older, cleverer, more sensible, stronger, wiser than mine. I understand that you know your child and you believe in her, have faith in her and know that she can do this. Or you hope she can.

I also understand that you have been promising that she can go to college at the end of treatment. It has been the carrot you have been dangling, the thing you can talk together about, plan, discuss and feel good about. The spider web strand of commonality that still holds you together. I know you believe that, without the promise of going to college, your daughter would not have made such strides, got so much better, wanted to be well. I understand that you believe you have to stand by this promise, keep your side of the bargain, believe that she wants this more than she wants her eating disorder. You have to be purer than the driven snow in the face of the disordered, contorted logic, of the wheedling, pleading, negotiating. You feel you need to have the moral highground in the face of the eating disorder. You have to the model of perfection, the one that keeps the promises, the one that does as they say they will do, to set her an example that you hope she will follow.

And all I hear, as I hear you say this, is that I can hear the eating disorder making deals with your daughter, telling her she can eat and put on weight because, once she is away, she can lose it all again and there is nothing anyone can do to stop it. Because the eating disorder is always in your daughter's head. It doesn't have to wait for visiting hours, or for her to be awake, or finished eating or in a good mood. It can talk to her whenever it likes, cajoling and scheming, twisting the truth, turning white into black.

Sadly, coming home from hospital does not mean the eating disorder is "cured" or that your daughter has the skill set to deal with anxiety, depression or any other difficulties that may arise,without defaulting to restriction. Continuing to eat enough and letting go of the eating disorder takes a long time, a lot of hard work and a tremendous amount of love and patience from clinicians and carers. There is no quick fix to this part.

If it were me, I would not even be thinking about sending my daughter away to college for at least another year. She will need support, help and love for a long while after coming out of the treatment centre. Recovery from an eating disorder is all about learning a new way of life and dealing with stress and anxiety in an entirely different way. This cannot be done in 3 months in a treatment centre or three days at home. It takes months and months and years and years. It takes support and kindness and calm firmness. It takes love and forgiveness. It takes catching them when they fall and setting them back on their feet, with a plaster on their knees until the cut is healed.

It takes the tincture of time.

There is a thread on the Around the Dinner Table forum which might give you some idea of the length of time it takes for someone to recover from anorexia here. If you would care to join us on the forum, I suspect the majority of the advice you would be getting, especially from those with children of a similar age who have faced the "going away to college" dilemma would be much the same. I would love you to join and post so you can have advice from other parents who have faced the same situation and see where, when, what and how they have dealt with it.

You should also ask yourself this. Are you sending her away for yourself, as well? Are you fed up with it, angry at it, want to be done with it? Do you yearn for some peace and some space and just one minute of the day that is not about food or exercise or anxiety or distress? Do you really think that you are doing this for her good or is there just a tiny bit of self-care involved in there too? Do you want her to have the opportunities you never had? Do you want her to be the person you couldn't? Haven't you worked and saved and denied yourself to give your child that head-start that never came your way? And isn't there a tiny bit of you that hopes that the good, loving daughter you know is in there would never betray you, disrespect you or let you down by not eating? Are you hoping that the shock of not having you there will force her into making the right choices? Do you hope that she will just see that this whole, new, gloriously exciting world of college and forget all this nonsense about not eating? That she will fall headlong in love with life and boys and study? That a little bit of you wants to live vicariously through her and you want that all to be joy?

It is very difficult to let your child down and I don't know about you, but for me, letting go of my hopes and dreams for my daughter and her glorious, sunlit, trouble-free future (including Prince Harry on a white charger), was one of the toughest things I had to do.

It is very much your decision and I am hoping that you will get some more support from the forum or other parents of young adults who have been through similar things. Please do not feel you can't return for further support and advice or that there will be any kind of "I told you so" moments. It is a horrible illness and a lot of unnecessarily hard decisions have to be made and it is very lonely and isolating. I remember when I first joined the forum in November 2009, I thought that my family was different and we would be done with the whole thing in 6 months but then, hey, I have always been over-optimistic.

Yours sincerely

Charlotte Bevan

Aye aye Cap'n!

I got a complaint that I haven't been blogging much so Mrs M, here's a new blog with lots of lovely pictures from the House of Mutt.

Tuesday 26 June 2012

Come to Bedlam

I read my friend, Miranda's, most recent blog with great distress.  I only hope that this poor young woman can get into the Bethlem (Bedlam) Hospital as soon as possible.

In the meantime, this sort of treatment of mentally fragile, vulnerable patients should be highlighted, reviewed and stopped.  If I were in her parents' position, I would be asking the Quality Care Commission for an urgent review and fighting tooth and nail to get her to a place of safety.

I would like to thank Miranda for not only drawing this to my attention, but for her tireless work for all mentally ill patients and for her candour and honesty.

Friday 15 June 2012

Friday audio

The 1 in 20 Project.

Carrie Arnold, of the excellent ed bites is starting a campaign to raise the profile of just how common eating disorders are.

The statistics are very scary:

Each year, roughly 4 million babies are born in America.
Approximately 500,000 of these babies will develop an eating disorder.
Every year has 525,600 minutes.
That means that every 1.05 minutes, a child will be diagnosed with an eating disorder.
Every minute, a parent will be told "Your child has an eating disorder."

So next time someone tells you that an eating disorder is very rare, tell them they are wrong.  Eating disorders are not rare.  

They are deadly.

But not rare.

(Please share the graphic

Thursday 14 June 2012

Playing the market

“Buy land, they're not making it anymore”

I told a very successful friend to spend his bonus on buying a farm in 2007.  Land prices in East Anglia were just beginning to rise to around £3,000 an acre for arable land mark.  To his lasting regret, he ignored my advice, as he felt he had "missed the market".  I know he still kicks himself to this day, since land values have continued to rise in this area, with an average of £6,500 per acre and, in some places, going for over £8,000 per acre.

When looking at these prices, you have to remember that owning one acre of farmland on its own isn't going to earn you a lot of money.  With bigger farm machinery and tighter, precision farming, you need to own a large block of good quality Grade 1 or 2 land. You need to have farmed it properly, kept an eye on your ph's, trimmed your hedges, cultivated it properly, got the correct drainage and have the relevant farm buildings to command this sort of price but still, the bruise on the shin is pretty permanent now....

So what will I tell him this year, 5 years on?  I would still recommend investing in farmland.  Farming is anti cyclical.  When everyone else is buying new cars and going on foreign holidays, food is cheap.  Therefore farming is not hugely profitable.  When food prices rise, so do farming profits and we tend to splash out on new machinery and re-roof the cowshed.  If this recession is going to continue, land prices will continue to rise.  The minute the "boom" starts up again, land prices freeze until the next "bust".

What would I recommend getting out of?  This is far more interesting from my point of view.  If I were in charge of a bit investment portfolio, I would begin to look at two areas that are beginning to lose their credibility and hence will, over the next 10 years, begin to lose their profitability.

The first is the diet industry.  When Jo Swinson et al were researching the Body Image Report, one of the most contentious issues was the efficacy of a "diet".  There has been a call for NICE to investigate the diet industry and for the diet industry to produce an evidence base to prove that "diets work" as opposed to the usual publicity guff.  (Please note I am refusing to put a link to the "I lost 40lbs and Prince William fell in love with me" type article which passes for "proof" these days).

I have noticed more and more bloggers and more and more research swinging the pendulum.  The recent campaign started by Lydia Jade Turner to stop a representative of Jenny Craig talking to the Alliance of Girls Schools was a case in point.  So a section to watch and maybe review before the evidence base outcome.

Secondly, I would be watching that other industry that is based entirely on guilt, self-loathing and very little evidence base - the gym.  Having read this article (thanks to the Fairy Blogmother), I wonder how soon it will be before people begin to see a correlation between the two industries above.  Will people realise that it is just money for old rope?

Walking around an acre of farmland would probably turn out to be a cheaper alternative to gym membership over a 10 year period and you never know, you might even make a profit at the end of it.

Wednesday 13 June 2012

Distraction technique.

I went looking for a "frazzled" picture to describe "conference organising".  How cool is this?

Step 1: The Frazzled receptor manifested by the transverse nerve recognizes Netrin, and causes axonal elongation.
Step 2: During that time, Frazzled captures Netrin and reorganizes its distribution.
Step 3: Next, Frazzled presents Netrin to another cell (dMP2), and carries out the guidance of the longitudinal axon, which is the next patterning.

Tuesday 12 June 2012

E-Petition - please sign

Increase the support given by the Health Service to those with eating disorders regardless of age, postcode or specific diagnosis

Responsible department: Department of Health
Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia, Binge-Eating Disorder and EDNOS are serious but treatable biologically based mental illnesses with significant impacts on the lives of sufferers and those around them. Anorexia has the highest mortality rate of all mental illnesses. Despite promises from the previous government and individuals within the coalition there is no mention of eating disorders in the Health White Paper and no incentive for Clinical Commissioning Groups to give the subject thought. Already hard pressed clinical teams are experiencing cuts and funding insecurities. We petition the government to give a clear commitment to the treatment and support of those with eating disorders to include; early identification and intervention, robust research, excellence in multi-disciplinary teamwork, tailored support for carers and other family members, equity of access for all affected and long term support and treatment for those who need it regardless of age or postcode

Sunday 10 June 2012

Friday Video 2 - Julius Cowdrey

I got a bit of a heartstopping moment, when he opened his mouth to sing.  I won't tell you how I discovered him but he ticks all the "future mother-in-law" boxes: a lovely voice, lovely to look at and an interest in cricket!

Saturday 9 June 2012

Feast UK, ECHO and Maudsley Carers Conference

ECHO, FEAST and Maudsley Carers Event
Bestwood Lodge Hotel
Bestwood Lodge
Bestwood Lodge Country Park
Nottingham NG5 8NE
United Kingdom

Driving Directions

Friday November 23, 2012 at 8:30 AM CET
Saturday November 24, 2012 at 4:00 PM CET
Add to my calendar

ECHO, F.E.A.S.T. and Maudsley Carers Conference, Nottingham, 23rd and 24th November 2012
organised with the kind permission of Professor Treasure
by F.E.A.S.T. UK

We are delighted to announce a two day conference, on Friday 23rd and Saturday 24th November, in Nottingham for all families and professional teams involved in the ECHO (Expert Carers Helping Others) project, members of F.E.A.S.T. (Families Empowered and Supporting Treatment for Eating Disorders) and Maudsley Carers.  

The objective of the conference is to meet, learn, discuss and exchange ideas and offer support, help and advice in a warm, relaxed and friendly atmosphere.  

We will be having a keynote speech on Friday 23rd November by Professor Janet Treasure, Professor South London & Maudsley NHS Trust Director Eating Disorder Unit and Professor Psychiatry Guys', King's & St Thomas' Medical School, London and a member of the F.E.A.S.T. Advisory Panel. 

Susan Ringwood, CEO of Beat and a member of  Professional Advisory Panel for F.E.A.S.T. will be talking about what carers can do and how families can help as well as the Beat Carers Workshop project.  

Gill Todd, retired Head Clinical Nurse of Eating Disorders Unit in the South London and Maudsley NHS Trust will be doing Carers Workshops for both professionals and families.  

We will also be having a presentation and discussion with Dr Maria Finnis (John Radcliffe) and Dr Rachel Polonsky on the power of the internet and parents.  

There will be presentations by various F.E.A.S.T.members, including Fiona Bromelow (FEAST Board Member and BEAT Carers Ambassador) and Charlotte Bevan (C&M ED Productions
on You Tube).
Register Now!
I can't make it
We look forward to seeing you on 23rd and 24th November.


Charlotte Bevan

Friday 8 June 2012

Friday video - Standing up.

I love Kathleen MacDonald, because she has one of the coolest dogs on the planet.


And she is an amazing advocate.

Eating Disorders Coalition
720 7th Street NW
Suite 300
Washington, DC 20001

Socialising - a snapshot

Firstly congratulations to our niece, Amelia Bevan, who cleaned up yesterday in the side saddle events.  Isn't she lovely?

Yesterday was the first day of the Suffolk Show, an annual pilgrimage.  HWISO left early with his brother and I followed on later, leading the convoy, with two teenagers and a great family friend, who shall henceforth be known as Mr Social.  The plan was to get Mr Social, who doesn't normally do this stuff without his fabulous beautiful, organised, lawyer wife into the Showground and into the CLA tent for a meeting at 11 am.  Timing was pretty critical.

Being the "hate to be late" person I am (I have never been able to watch Clockwise for longer than 10 minutes because of extreme anxiety attacks), we left in good time and arrived at the Showground with 40 minutes to spare.  And we needed that 40 minutes to do the brisk 5 minute walk from the gate to the CLA tent.  Mr Social knows so many people and, being the consumate politician he is, needs to talk to everybody.  Not just a hello but quite an in-depth conversation.  (Apologies to the Gadsby family - of course I know who you are and we have met on many occasions.  Mr Social's use of your slightly deranged cricket nick-name completely threw me!).  By the time I had got him to the CLA tent, I began to understand why his wife point-blank refused to come with him.....

I eventually found HWISO lurking in the Savills tent and discovered that he had been "socialising" quite hard so assumed the role of "Keeper of the Car Keys" (commonly known as Designated Driver).  There followed a Comedy of Errors which involved me taking teenagers home in the middle of lunch, as one came over that peculiar shade of whiteish green that heralded the onset of a particularly virulent D&V bug, returning to pick up the thoroughly socialised HWISO, who had mysteriously disappeared with Mr Social and had completely lost the ability to answer his phone.....

And then the heavens opened, making searching for the Social Ones impossible for one with a water allergy so I stayed put in the VP tent and waited with a nice cup of tea (£2.25!) and managed to gather all safely in and home some three hours later...

Today, it was MY turn to be "social" and I was really looking forward to it.  I had set the phone to "silent", packed up the wellies, wet weather gear, found myself a fetching hat and  practised the "selectively deaf" setting in my ears.  Sadly the news has just come through that the show has been cancelled because the high winds blew away all the marquees overnight.......

I only hope that the jackdaw that got stuck down the chimney and had to be released by using every power tool known to man and then chased round teenager's bedroom, captured in a shirt (Jackdaws are notoriously "pecky") and released out the window, doesn't decide to do the same again today.  I am mightily impressed that the thoroughly "socialised" HWISO managed this difficult and grubby exercise with such good humor and grace.  Perhaps I should get him "socialised" before attempting any DIY tasks in future.....

Tuesday 5 June 2012

Soul Searching - getting back to normal

Exam pressure, tiredness and the gloomy weather have made for a bit of bleak week here, culminating in my children lobbying my mother (and a few of my friends, methinks) to urge me to give up my advocacy work in the eating disorders world.  Their argument is that it is time for me to move on and they want their "Mummy" back to normal.  (See above.  I am slightly disappointed to think that I used to be average...)

Talking to HWISO and my wise mother, I did point out that I feel the "Mummy" they want "back" is really some idealised figment of their adolescent imagination and probably a misty-eyed, sentimental view of when summer holidays were long, hot and always sunny, Christmas was magical and all was perfect in the Garden of Eden.  (I have a slightly different view of the almost intolerable boredom of standing on cold touchlines, endless school runs and a constant 24/7 vigilance required to ensure the safety of the children, the dogs, the house and anyone else who may in the vicinity.)

So we stand at an impasse.  In three years time, both children will have left home and moved on to university or a job or whatever else lies in their future.  I live permanently with the sword of cancer over my head.  Don't get me wrong, I have had the all clear but every ache or twinge or itchy mole - the first thought is cancer and the corresponding torture of treatment.

I wrote to the Fairy Blogmother and she wrote back some wise words to the effect that I was way ahead in the karma stakes, if I wanted to give up now but that it was not a decision that should be taken lightly and I should take time to think about it.  She knows me and my natural impatience well.

I have also received a personal email from Jo Swinson about the Body Image project, wanting me to get involved.  This could be a huge opportunity for FEAST UK to really talk to a lot of people involved in all aspects of this project and to lobby for eating disorder patients and their families, among the corridors of power.  My specific areas of interest are the use of BMI as a measure of health/diagnostic tool and the evidence base for the diet industry (Rocking article from Sue Thomason in the HuffPo) and I do want to make sure that eating disorders are not a short one page towards the back of this issue.  Who knows?  Maybe we could change the world.

So a little less time spent on the internet and a lot less time on the forum, for the moment, whilst I cogitate and ruminate and try to quell my inner Boudicca........................

Day 3 of partying at the age of 86.........

queen mint green

I love that she saved the best brooch until today.....

Friday 1 June 2012

Congratulations, Ma'am.

Thank you to my dear friend, Ian Jones for the picture.  Just want that broach.........

Have a happy Jubilee weekend, people.