We set off to the appointment this afternoon. L was late leaving school so I picked her up from the bus stop. I didn’t know whether to dread it, or see it as the next step in the process to recovery. Anyway, we sat down in the room with just the psychiatrist present. The psychologist couldn’t be there and I immediately felt tense because L had told me she wrote down some things to tell the psychologist if she saw her on her own and I knew that she wouldn’t get the chance.
Head to the side, the doctor began with the time honoured “So, how have you been?”. “fine, really good”, said L immediately. Doctor looks at me. I tell her the truth. That it constantly seems the anorexic voice is louder than mine, than her friends, than the doctors, that she struggles to eat, that she seems scared and quiet and meek. I give my speech. I tell her that I want L to have the therapy she needs to quieten the voice that tells her to starve.
“Unfortunately,”, explains the doctor gently, “the cure is to eat. At L’s weight, therapy won’t work because her ability to think is too disordered. The voice is so loud because she is so weak”. And when I asked what happened if she didn’t eat, she explained the process to becoming an inpatient at the specialist unit, then tube feeding, possibly the use of the mental health act. You know when you keep asking questions to which you don’t want to know the answers? That.
We talked about lots of other things too. It felt really bleak, being on a slow moving train away from every certainty and security. And then L went to get weighed. I sat and waited.
When L came back she was smiling. A proper slightly chuffed with herself smile. What does that smile mean? How is she smiling? The doctor followed her. She was smiling too. She told me L had gained weight. 2.5kg in fact. In two weeks. My first thought was L and how she would feel. That’s a lot of weight to put on. But I saw her smile. Not the mouth stretching grin she gives me to stop me worrying, but a real smile. I hugged her and cried. I told her how proud I was of her that she had let herself eat and how that meant all the things she wanted to do came a bit closer. She was pleased too. In that moment she was pleased.
I know this isn’t the end. I know she’s not cured. I know the anorexic voice will get louder as it senses its grip being loosened. But today L won a round in the battle against anorexia. Today she is stronger than before. Despite the rain and cloud outside, for L and me, the sun shone