The experience of Family Therapy in CAMHS is much better than we experienced when L was an inpatient. It seeks to support the family through treatment, recognising the hugely damaging impact anorexia on a family. The therapists are kind and caring. We are all a long way off enjoying it, but we cope. Today C doesn’t come. His back hurts and he thinks it would be better for K and L to be with me, in a session of the wimminz as he calls us.
I have thought of things I want to say. How frustrated I am by the Stuckness of L. Her weight is down, as usual more than it increased last week and the week before put together. We all agree that she is trapped in a place from which she will never get better without weight gain. I express concern at her passivity, at how she agrees with everything, but stays the same and the psychiatrists asks how we deal with conflict in our house. We think about this. K says she feels we are passive aggressive and I agree that conflict is suppressed in our house especially when it relates to their father. We begin to talk about the marriage break up and the two and a half years of a war zone while the children were small. I explain how terrifying it must have been for them through constant loud arguments, screaming and doors slamming, items being smashed and witnessing the deteriorating mental health of their parents.
I felt powerless in a marriage that I wanted to leave but the only way out was to leave my children entirely. Their father refused any discussion of separation. When I was out for the evening with C, he would sit in the children’s rooms and weep in front of them, blaming C for stealing me. I felt as if I had ruined everyone’s life and was a truly terrible person, but at the same time I could not stay married to someone who I no longer loved or even liked. The rows escalated and after nearly two years I took an overdose, bringing paramedics to the house. We talk about all of this and my clumsy attempts to talk to the children about this last year when I felt sure it would emerge in family therapy. Their father was still adamant he was the victim in the whole process and I didn’t know whether they remembered or not. They ask me now how I could have thought about leaving them and what I thought it could have done to them. I explain how severely depressed I was at the time, but I can still clearly remember after a blistering row in which their father told me again I had ruined their lives and destroyed any chance they had of happiness and that I was a disgusting person. I remember sobbing and sobbing at the realisation that I must be such a toxic presence in their lives and it was time to realise they would be better off. And feeling just tired, so tired. It is such a hard thing to explain to your children that you contemplated leaving them in that way. They ask me whether in my current depressed state I would do that again. I say No, knowing that I could never leave them.
I feel raw and emotional. I can’t face tea and leave them to it. I don’t feel sad, I didn’t even cry, although I am conscious medication makes crying impossible. I don’t know whether this helps or not. It feels as if something is healed or healing. But I’m not sure.