L had her review yesterday, in her 26th week of being a patient at the unit. She was dreading it, fearing I think that they would discharge her for not being good enough at recovery.
It is always the same group in the same room, following the same pattern. There are no longer introductions – we are all too familiar faces. L talks, her team talk, I talk and the CAMHS rep asks questions, knowing that they will take over L’s care. Eventually we reach a decision, L will be discharged on 9 April, and the intervening period will see a gradual return to school. L agrees it would be best to become a ‘healthy’ BMI as soon as possible so that she can work on the resulting difficult feelings in therapy sessions.
It feels like progress. On the way home, it is after five and still light with cold watery sunshine, not yet strong enough to warm the air, but a sign that the grip of winter is loosening. A discharge date is not recovery, but the end of a stage in the journey towards recovery. Later, L and I go shopping for cereal bars and toothpaste. I buy her special toothpaste designed for teeth affected by acid erosion. “But when was the last time you did ‘that'”, I ask, as we wander to the next aisle.
I am not ready for the answer. It was just over a week ago, after lasagne and a chocolate brownie, on the day when I really thought L had done so well. It feels like a vicious slap, as if Ed has suddenly barged in to mock my smug complacence and remind me we are a long, long way off recovery.
We are in the supermarket but I want to cry. I want to shake L by the shoulders and say Stop, just stop, please stop. I want to throw the cereal bars and special yogurts out of the basket and say “What is the f***ing point of buying all this stuff when it just placates this bloody
illness?” And, of course L thinks I am cross with her, but I am so cross with anorexia, and its iron hold on my precious daughter, with its abusive determination to keep her meek and compliant.
We go home. L eats dinner. Later on, I ask her to try, to please try to ask for help. Even if she just comes for a hug. She listens and we lie on the sofa, warmed by the woodburner. I am cold all the time at the moment. Winter is a long way from over.