Taking a leap into the dark for my daughter

I don’t know why I’m writing this. I don’t know why on a Sunday evening, I’m sitting in my home tapping out words on a screen while I listen to the distant sounds of my daughter making lunch for tomorrow, with a gnawing anxiety churning away inside.

I don’t know whether she is making food that she will eat, I don’t know whether she is going through this performance to convince me that everything is normal or whether she really believes that she will eat. I don’t know if she will keep the food down if she eats it.

All the certainty in our lives seems to have gone. Six months I ago I thought I knew my beautiful clever daughter so well. I thought I knew how she felt and what made her happy and sad. I knew that unlike many other 14 year olds, L was sensible, grown up, had her life all mapped out and was indestructible. I don’t know when the day was that it all changed. I don’t know when she looked in the mirror and instead of seeing a slim healthy body, saw a fat loathsome body that had to be punished. I don’t know when she only started to feel safe when she stopped herself eating. I don’t know how she found out how to make herself vomit up the little food that she had eaten. I don’t know how she learned to do it quietly or how she hid the smell.

But worst of all I don’t know how to help her. I know where to find information, I know where the over stretched services are that might, one day, be able to see her. I know, just about that this disease, this illness, isn’t her fault, isn’t my fault and despite the endless displays of underweight models that now sicken me, probably not society’s fault. I know the damage it will do to her and the theories that underpin treatment. But I don’t want theory or information. I don’t want a booklet or a leaflet. I want my daughter back. I want my wonderful, funny, delightful girl to walk through the door and make herself her favourite cheese and ham toastie. If that can’t happen now I want to know that one day it will. I want to know she will get better and that someone, somewhere out there will know how to reach her, how to find the young woman she was and the young woman she will become and bring her back to us. Because I love her and I’ve always solved every problem for her and with her as she got older and now, I know nothing. I have no idea how to help my beloved daughter.

So that’s why I’m writing this. Because perhaps someone will read it and know more than me and know that it will be ok. Perhaps someone might know how this feels, like watching someone you love disappear from view and slip through your fingers, no matter how hard you try. Because we can’t get through this on our own


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