Every day with an ED feels like an odyssey. A series of challenges, some of which seem insurmountable. And the next day it starts again. To an outsider it seems bewildering. “She just needs to eat, surely?”. How do you describe the endless emotional hurdles to overcome just to have a snack?
Some days are good. Some are nightmarish. And some are mixed. Today was such a day. The morning was flat, L and I both drained after yesterday. Breakfast went without resistance, L came home and ate a snack. A trip to the shop was painful and difficult, L seemed to panic at every choice, eyes darting for a lower calorie option each time. I was firm and calm, but K just seemed to seethe with rage. When I faltered and gave in on one snack choice, K glared as if I was a complete failure.
Tea was much worse. L picked at food, moved it around and became more and more distressed. I stayed calm, using a broken record technique of patting her arm and telling her to keep going. Eventually L’s tears erupted accompanied by an incoherent self loathing outburst at how stupid she was, what a waste of space she is. I comforted her then, although part of me wondered if this was a diversion. Eventually the sobs stopped and I told her to keep on eating. Weeks ago, I would have given up. But this is what hospital will be like. I fed her each mouthful, giving gentle encouragement as the plate cleared. I also felt soothed, going back to the days of feeding my child by hand. At least I am doing something. She finished and it felt like the end of a marathon.
After tea she slept for a while and I sat with her. Then we talked. I told her again that she can only recover for her, not for me. She is still making herself sick and tried to tell me that this would help her in the long term. I told her this was a lie that anorexia whispered in her ear. She protested that it gave her control, and I responded that she had no control, it was all in the hands of anorexia. Indeed so often it feels like a battle between anorexia and me, with my meek quiet L in the middle, not wanting to offend.
She is now in the shower. I am sitting outside the bathroom. She is barred from flushing the toilet. I wonder if she can vomit quietly into the shower. I can hear her crying, but I cannot comfort her. I don’t know if she really wants to recover or if she just wants to make me happy. She tells me she doesn’t feel “ill”. We will do this all again tomorrow. In between I will try to do the job that pays the bills and be a mother to K and L. This is so, so hard and it is only the beginning.