Turning point

What a week we’ve had. Praise be to God.

It happened suddenly. Our care team had explained that there is a link between levels of nutrition and mood. If you are under-nourished, food and anxiety about food dominate your thoughts and you cannot relax. This is classic anorexia anxiety, but the idea is that if you can nourish yourself better, the anxiety will fade.

It’s much easier said than done, of course. It’s important to remember that anorexia is full of contradictions: food will make you better, but food is what you fear the most.

My daughter and I had a stand-up shouting match at breakfast on, I think, Wednesday. She didn’t want me to give her cereal because, she said, I add too much milk. She did not want to eat the toast I make because it comes out soggy and I apply too much jam. This has been the way of things with us since heaven knows when. Anorexia is devious and it attacks parents’ confidence. You end up thinking that, indeed, you are incapable of serving a bowl of Weetabix.

A monkey could serve a bowl of Weetabix.

By Wednesday evening, things were different. The care team had invited us to dare to look for tiny signs of improvement in our daughter’s demeanour. On occasion, some signs were there: a smile, a laugh, a look with the old glint in her eye. It was all very fleeting, even though my wife kept her off school on Friday (October 15) and the two of them had a great day in the city. On Wednesday evening, it was like she was a different child, eating without complaint, taking part in conversation round the table, helping us, helping her sisters, engaging with homework. Who’d have believed it?

It wasn’t a different child, though. It was our child, our old child, the way she used to be before she lost control of her control of what she was eating and anorexia claimed her.

Well, we’re claiming her back and she is claiming her own life back and the condition will not be able to hold out against us.

Thursday was an equally amazing day, with lots of positive energy and breakfast finished in five minutes instead of 30, reports of lunch scoffed down equally quickly in school so that the rest of the lunch-break could be spend in social networking, also known as fun, with fellow pupils. One boy said to her on the school bus coming home that he had not heard her speak for the whole of this school year so far until Thursday.

Now, we know downs as well as ups await us. We are prepared for the return of the tears and the protests. But for now, she is eating without complaint. She has stopped insisting on standing up all the time, moving all the time, working off calories all the time. We have found out that she had been spending all free time at school power-walking her way around the grounds. This has stopped. She is sitting down and chatting to other pupils instead. She smiles.

Dear God almighty, the child smiles again. By the grace of God we are on the way to recovery. Our child was lost to us and we have found her again.

Peace to all.

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6 Responses to Turning point

  1. Adam says:

    Hi,

    Just read your last post to our daughter who also has AN. I can relate so much to this post as a fellow AN dad. The description of your daughter is almost a perfect representation of our daughter. She has gained weight and we are seeing signs of daughter back. But the AN is not far away. I think that your description of serving food is a problem for us dad’s. With my daughter I had lost all confidence in my ability to cook a meal as everything was too much, little, cold, hot, undercooked, overcooked etc.

    Great post and thanks for your sharing.

    • anorexiadad says:

      Thank you, Adam, for your wise reminder that the eating disorder will be stalking us and staying with us for some time. Tentatively, I said as much to my daughter tonight and she became upset. She wanted to see if she could still do the splits, almost six months on from the last time she was able to attend her ballet class. I said it was probably better to wait until she was stronger. She didn’t like that one bit. Good luck to you.

  2. Your description of your family and clinical team and the reemergence of your real daughter are just amazing and inspiring. Thank you!!

    A monkey could serve a bowl of Weetabix was my blog post for yesterday.

    • anorexiadad says:

      Dear Laura, I don’t know what to say. I’m not worthy of being singled out by someone as knowledgeable and authoritative as you. You make me feel very humble. Thanks a million for your kind words.

  3. anotherdad says:

    Dear Anorexiadad and Adam,
    You two are empowered fathers.
    Cheers to you from around the world!

    • anorexiadad says:

      Thank you. It’s often hard to feel empowered when confronting anorexia. Our daughter has made it clear to us now that she feels much better when she is with us and we are taking control of her meals and activity. Her trust in us is growing. That is empowering.

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