I hate that expression, Tough Love. But there are undoubtedly times when the kindest thing we can do for those we love is draw a line in the sand and tell them that we are not going to give in, no matter how much they want us to do so. I had a call today from L’s case co-ordinator. She asked me how I thought L was and I told her I thought she was stuck. Her eating is as rigid today as it was at her lowest weight. Yes, she consumes more calories, and that is good, but her rigidity is just the same. She may have gained weight and become physically stronger, but she cannot bring herself to eat a tiny chocolate behind the door of an advent calendar. To me, that seems pretty strong anorexic thinking. Ed has allowed her to eat, as long as he remains in control. Or this may be OBsessive Compulsive Disorder, as L is also being assessed for this too. Either way, the remedy is to find a way for her to break this cycle.
So, the snack list is being replaced with a new snack list. Over the weekend, we will phase in these new snacks, one a day. On the list will be a mystery snack – the biggest challenge being to eat something unmeasured and unknown. I am going to try unsliced bread, home made snack bars and cakes. It will be like going back in time and I expect fierce resistance, but L is stronger now and needs to push herself harder, but won’t. So I am going to push her instead. Her psychologist and I talked about how difficult it is to challenge her, because she is such a lovely young woman. She smiles and nods, is polite and interested, always agrees with the theory but rarely follows through with the practice. The staff who work with her all really like her and feel the same – it is hard to be strict with her. But we are not helping her if we don’t try. Perhaps this new phase will result in typical teenage tantrums – frankly, after months of meek, passive behaviour I’d welcome it.