Running out of time

L has now been in formal CAMHS treatment for five weeks. Initially they said after three or four weeks if no progress was made, she would be referred as an in patient. The first week she gained weight – but nowhere near as much as we thought as the doctor did the sums wrongly. A misplaced decimal point meant L was told she had gained 2.5kg when in reality it was .25kg. Ten times more weight than she had really gained. Of course, the anorexic backlash happened and within four weeks, L had lost weight overall.

I don’t want her to go into hospital – although some mornings I think it might be best, but that is my exhaustion, not L’s illness. In a few weeks time they will make a decision on referral, but have agreed that admission should wait until the end of the school holidays.

Nine weeks, then for L to gain weight and to be able to eat, to challenge some of the controlling behaviour. There is very little advice about how to do this from CAMHS. Three meals and three snacks. I know what kind of food she should eat and I know roughly how many calories she should eat. We had a tough start to the week, but L often tries to turn things round after meltdown and she told me she was ready to get better. She said if she had more control over what she ate, she would find it easier.

But the problem, you see, is I don’t know if that is L or anorexia speaking. On the one hand it sounds just like the bargaining process we go through when we are ready to think about change, on the other it may be that by controlling her eating, it is limited and weight will not be gained. For example, we agreed she would eat a sandwich each lunchtime of a certain bread with Laughing cow cheese. I added 20 more calories worth of Laughing Cow cheese and she fell apart. She cried and told me she couldn’t eat it, it didn’t ‘fit’. That doesn’t sound like someone in recovery. On the other hand she has eaten small meals regularly, just not enough to gain weight. She also ate a cake, a small fairy cake, but still, that’s an achievement. But is it enough?

Is it ok to build on these small steps and take things at her pace, even though this means she will not gain enough weight and may have to be admitted to hospital? I am worried that by allowing her this level of control, she will not be able to make the small increases needed. Can I or should I make a decision that we will do this our way, at home, without hospital, even if it takes years? Once again, I am beset by so many questions and worry that by getting it wrong, she will become worse. I am also fighting my own exhaustion and depression which feels overwhelming.

If you read this and know the answers or even just have a view, I’d love to hear. I know I am impatient and always want things now rather than waiting. But it does feel as if the time is slipping away and more than anything I want to do the right thing for her.

2 responses to “Running out of time

  1. I can feel your heartache and I’m not sure if by sharing this will help or not but I couldn’t ignore your cry for help.

    I knew my daughter needed some guidance with her food intake and ideas for meals and snacks which were healthy and vegetarian. I suggested following the Carol Vordeman detox diet, which we called ‘The healthy eating Plan’. Her counsellor at the time didn’t totally agree with it. We followed it together and she chose meals etc which we both enjoyed. She enjoyed planning the days menu and cooking for me. This gave her control and at the same time I knew that by choosing menus from the book she would be getting all the essential nutrients that she needed, it also meant that she was eating healthy food that formerly she had restricted from her diet, we still had blips but there were more good days than bad. It gave us the oppotunity to talk about cooking and trying new food without the pressure of being frightened to say the wrong thing, it made meal times more relaxed. After the 28 days of following the plan, she continued to select her favourite recipes and cook them. I know she is older than your daughter and tastes are probably different but by following this plan it gave her structure, choice and control. It is also something that she uses to get herself back in line when she finds herself lost in the ED.

    • Thanks for sharing that, Nancy. I follow the Slimming World diet and had thought about getting her to follow that, with extra points to give her structure. Am sure the psychiatrist would be appalled, but until they can explain how to get her to eat and keep it down, I have to trust some of my instincts.

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