Going backwards

I thought Christmas had gone quite well. There were signs, of course, that it was far from ok. L lied to me about having lunch at a friends. Despite an array of delicious baking, she couldn’t manage any without being forced. Her advent calendar chocolate lay untouched, despite a challenge to eat it.

Over Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day, I just tried to relax. I got her to eat foods she hadn’t eaten before, we had three meals a day, although Christmas Day is always strange as far as food is concerned. On Boxing Day, I stayed in bed all day. It is kind of a tradition, but was also due to exhaustion. I came down for dinner last night, feeling like every bit of energy had been drained away. Over dinner, J was clearly looking for a fight by constantly proclaiming he was a f***ing idiot and would never be able to go away to college, K was obsessing about having found a cat flea in her room, C had clearly been drinking all day and was in a fatuous mood. And against all of this, L seemed relatively normal. At least she was eating and reasonably cheerful.

Then today she returned to the unit as a day patient. Where she learned she had lost 1.4kg. Weight that took her weeks to gain, rolled off her in a few days spent at home. She now feels hopeless and defeated. As do I. I can’t feed my own child. I thought the least I could do was to maintain her weight, but it is gone in a long weekend. I have failed. Again. Every time she comes home, her weight gain stalls or reverses. Something about this house, this family, or even me makes her stop fighting. Or stop eating. She made herself sick too, when we went to the neighbours for a drink. I shouldn’t have left her -but of course soon I will have to go back to work anyway. I keep pleading with her to ask for help, but she never does.

I know it upsets her when I feel it is my fault – but how else can I explain the fact that she always falls back into anorexia here at home? How can she lose weight so quickly? I have no idea what to do next. I know I just keep being there for her, but I do wonder whether that is really what she needs. Perhaps I am the problem after all.


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