L went back to the unit today. I was supposed to be going to London, but a further attack of the dizziness caused by labyrinthitis and a cancelled meeting kept me at home. I was pleased about this, it would mean I got to spend the evening with L and K. A colleague came to see me in the late afternoon as we needed to meet and it was easier to do that here. L arrived home just before 5. She looked exhausted and drained, she was completely pale and drained. I got up to make her dinner. Immediately the conflict starts. I have homemade tomato soup, she doesn’t want that, she wants the tinned soup her father brought for her ‘specially’ – watery low calorie soup that has no place as a meal for a recovering anorexic. She argues. I am worn out and it doesn’t help that I don’t want to have this argument with an audience. I give in on soup and curse her father for bringing the bloody soup into the house in the first place. I insist that she has a shake. She wants to make it herself. She wants powder and milk. I argue back, but calmly. I just prepare the shake – she shouts at me about how her team expect her to take responsibility, to make her own food. But this isn’t taking responsibility, this is controlling, restricting, resisting every calorie, refusing to be fed by me. Am I being controlling, I think? No, I just want to make my white faced, gaunt daughter something which will nourish her. She is off for the evening with her father. She almost certainly won’t eat snacks and her father won’t enforce them
She loses it, she shouts and swears and tells me I am treating her like a f***ing mental case. I resist the urge to respond by saying she does have a mental illness. I keep making the shake. She then puts her coat on, grabs her bag and storms out, into the freezing cold. I know where she is heading. To her father’s down the road. Except when I call, he isn’t there. Half an hour passes and I still don’t know where she is. She ignores calls and texts and I am really worried. Eventually, of course, she is at her father’s, eating some tinned soup for her evening meal. She has no snacks with her, and probably wouldn’t eat any, as her father will profess not to know whether she should or not. He will have no idea whether a snack is one apple or slices of toast and lemon curd.
I am just exhausted and sob. I have absolutely no idea what I should be doing any more. In her words, this really isn’t bloody fair. So, I have made a huge decision. She can make her own choices about food. Over to her. I am sick of this battle, I am tired of the ever-so-polite enquiries from her team as why I feel the need to make her eat? What would happen if I backed off? Surely, until she takes responsibility, she can’t get better.
So, I am backing off. Her choices about food will be hers. It is not giving up, I will be there for her to cook if she wants me to be, or not if she doesn’t. I will not pester her about snacks. I will not fret about whether the right food is in the house or not. I think the therapy team may be right – I am not her carer, I am perhaps her enabler, keeping her in the anorexic place. I don’t know anymore, but right now, I have run out of other ideas. I feel broken. This time, either L or Ed wins.