What kind of mother ignores medical advice about her child? Turns out, I do. Having railed against new agey types who dont have their kids vaccinated or winced at mothers feeding small children sweets and fizzy drinks, I am now ignoring medical advice about L.
Let me put it in some context. Last week the psychiatrist treating her said she believed L was not well enough to walk up mountains, especially in the heat. She said she needed to rest and gain weight, her BMI was 16.2. L’s face fell. She and I have planned this trip, the week before we’d gone out to buy new boots, a special fleece and drinking bottles.
So, why, two days into the holiday, isn’t L lying by the pool? Why have we spent two days walking up hillsides, on hot days, L striding out with her slender legs and arms marching in time. I have woken up every night wondering at this and today I worked out the answer.
Everything I have read about the root of anorexia suggests it comes from dark places, from loss, pain or fear. Those harmful thoughts may be fed by unhelpful body images, by a warped society view of skinny=successful, but the root is a loss, or fear of the future.
So, if those dark, difficult thoughts cause such harm, perhaps joy, love and hope can cure it. It is almost certainly cod psychology, but I knew when L needed help and I think I know when she needs to do the things that will bring her joy. Today we sat on a hillside on the grass, looking over mountains and eating our lunch that we cooked together. She looked happy and it wasnt just the exercise, it was the place, the people and doing the things she has always loved since a child. Later, unprompted she ordered an ice cream, not a calorie free ice lolly, but a proper ice cream. After she ate it, the sadness returned and she hid in her room. Without any plan, I went in and held her, then threw open the balcony doors which look out onto mountains. Look out there, I said, look at the world, waiting for you to live the life you deserve. I know you’re scared, I know you think that if you get thinner, find the right clothes, get your hair sorted out then your life will begin, but the truth is, its here and you risk missing it.
I am probably delusional. But I woke up this morning, thinking hospital was inevitable, and now I feel the first hope I have felt in weeks