L is now allowed full weekend leave – which means Friday evening until Tuesday morning. As usual, it is so lovely to have her here. But we are a long way from recovery. She still is anxious about food and constantly wants to control, to weigh and measure and to monitor every ingredient. It frustrates me, not because of the behaviour, but because I want her to embrace recovery, not be so scared of it. She is anxious about her weight and told me she is now eight stone four. How does a tall young woman become upset about being eight stone four? We talk about her being nine stone and I can tell the idea terrifies her. But at nine stone, she will still be very thin, by anyone’s standards. Except those of an anorexic obviously. I grieve for these lost years of her childhood. I look at her when she doesn’t see me, when she knits or watches TV and marvel at how incredibly beautiful she is – and how kind, clever and funny. She brings joy to all of us, except herself.
She is so unhappy and I suspect not just about her weight. A row with a friend reduced her to sobbing on Sunday night and the conversation about her feeling a failure at life still haunts me. I know we are really close, but it is really difficult to get her to talk to me. I see her smile, I hear her say she’s fine, and I don’t believe it. I suspect that underneath she feels hopeless and worthless and despairing, as if nothing in her world will ever be right and is crippled by self loathing much of the time. If I could, I would hold her forever until the clouds went away and the sun came out, but I think it wouldn’t work. She might feel safe and loved, but not happy or stronger.
So, is medication the answer? It is mentioned at each review, but so far none has been prescribed. We talk about it and it turns out that every other girl in her dorm is taking medication, Fluoxetine, it would seem. I believe strongly in medication for illness, of any kind, so why would I resist this for L? Part of me worries about the side effects – in young people, sometimes the risk of suicidal thoughts increases rather than decreases. But if this helped her feel better about herself and recovery, it would be a godsend.
L looks so much better physically, although I cringe every time I say this or hear someone say it. I imagine she just hears “bigger” or “fatter”. She is not able to see how terribly ill and frail she looked before, and didnt see the shocked glances of passers by at her skeletal frame, especially when we were abroad and baggy cover ups were out of the question. She has bloomed – her hair is shinier, her skin brighter and her eyes have life in them. If she were happy and eating food normally, without fear, without control, she would just be an underweight girl. But her depression and acute controlling anxiety need to be addressed now. And I think drugs could help – but usual, I would love to hear the views of others.