There are a few minutes of sleep induced amnesia when I wake each morning, at 6.20, before I remember that L is anorexic and another day of helping her to fight this and eat her way back to health begins. I drink tea in bed, thanks to the Teasmaid that no one thought I would use, and drag myself put of bed. I hate mornings, I always have. I try to remember to take the antidepressant tablet, but often forget. I go downstairs and this morning I made her lunch. I prepare her porridge ready to zap in the microwave and think about the meals for the day. After school L is in a fashion show (because we know she’d make a lovely model) and she won’t be home till late. I know she shouldn’t really do this, she is supposed to rest. She comes down. I am struck every morning by how beautiful she is. She has stopped wearing make up and looks so young and fragile. She sees me making food and stops in her tracks. Anxiety takes over her every feature.
For her lunch she has a sandwich made with a certain bread, with Laughing Cow cheese. “Did you put butter in?” she asks, looking genuinely scared. I take her shoulders gently and tell her no, I didn’t and swear on my life. She relaxes a little. I then show her the food and snacks I have made for her long day. I have made a second sandwich, for a snack later. The fear and distress returns. She can only eat one sandwich, if she eats two, this will be wrong. I try to explain that I am not expecting her to eat two at lunch but that one is a snack. This doesn’t work. I divert her to the porridge. She eats slowly. I know she will not make the school bus. She starts to cry and begs me not to give her the second sandwich. I try to reason with her, but the anorexic voice has the floor. The crying gets louder, and my own Jellyfish voice starts to whisper at me. You can’t do this either, it says, this is too much, think how tired you are, this isn’t working. I ignore the Jellyfish voice and try reach L. I tell her she can swap the second sandwich for something else. We agree on a chicken and couscous salad. I let her make it. She finishes the porridge and drinks most of the smoothie. The tears have gone. She packs her school bag and I call the school saying she will be late. I know it is unlikely L will eat enough today to gain weight, but she will eat. That is something.
I put on my work clothes and my partner takes L to the bus stop and me to the station. I put on make up in the car, trying to erase the worn worried features and turn myself into the person I need to be at work. I remember I forgot my own medication and must remember later. Perhaps I need a supply at work. I get to the station and miraculously get my train, with even time to get a coffee from the AMT stall. The young Polish man that serves me regularly smiles with genuine warmth and wishes me a good day. I am so grateful for this small act of kindness. Later a text arrives from L saying sorry, as usual. I reply by telling her she should not be sorry, that I know she is in real pain and that hurts me to see and end by telling her I love her, as usual.
L and I talk about life getting back to normal and how she longs for that, to be able to do the small things that are routine but give such comfort. For now though, this is normal. And today, we got through. Just.