I am on the train to work, in a packed carriage of commuters and students. Due to flooding, the network is in chaos. The train is too crowded to use laptops and tempers are frayed. I feel quite calm, most work related issues don’t faze me. Life with anorexia has made me far more resilient.
It is six months since I started this blog. Half a year from the weekend when I realised my daughter was seriously ill. I remember the panic and terror and the sense of not having a clue what to do. I remember thinking I could talk her out of it, that her favourite foods would tempt her – food which the rest of us ate, feeling increasingly hopeless.
I remember feeling hopeful when L told me she was ready to take recovery seriously but wants to be involved and have control, not realising this was the voice of Ed, trying to bargain with us, to keep L out of our reach. I remember the horror at working out that her sudden happiness was because she had vomited up dinner. I remember the overwhelming loss of my funny, wonderful daughter, my best friend, and the equal sense of loss at realising she had always felt second best and never good enough. I remember how each eating success felt like we’d beaten it, only to be followed by a backlash from Ed. I remember hours of food shopping, negotiating with the Ed terrorist that possessed my beautiful girl. I remember the sympathy of the CAMHS team, as they watched us struggle and the gentle way they explained that hospital was inevitable. I remember the grief and relief as L was admitted, to a small homely inpatient unit and it was someone elses turn to feed her.
What have I learned? That ED is a tyrant and its power is often stronger than love. That my belief that this would be over soon would be so wrong. I have had to learn a patience I never had before. I have been moved to tears by the incredible kindness of strangers, of other mothers and ED sufferers and survivors and the compassion and love shown to me as they welcomed me into the world none of us want to inhabit. It would have been impossible to survive these six months without them.
My father always said youth was wasted on the young and joked he would love to have his life again, but with the wisdom he acquired with age. If I could go back six months, I would know that with anorexia you need to think the worst. Then double it. I would have asked for L to be admitted earlier. I would not have negotiated with Ed. L has spent over three months in hospital and there is little prospect of a discharge. But I also know I needed to learn these things for myself.
Tonight, we have A Trip Out. To IKEA, where we will buy her a desk and have a snack, if L can cope. I am ridiculously excited about this. L and I love IKEA. It will be almost like old times. But the sad truth is, that in the turbulence of the last six months, I can remember every detail of our struggle against Ed, but I have forgotten what life without anorexia was like.