I know what many parents find their local CAMHS service to be wanting and in some cases to make matters worse. However, I can’t speak highly enough of the support we have from ours. They have no interest in the “causes” of anorexia or any potential dysfunction in our family. They repeat the mantra that food is medicine and family therapy is designed to support us all in the battle against Ed and keep us relatively sane. Since realising that L is a t risk of a further spell of inpatient treatment they have stepped up support and last week commenced a programme of home visits. A therapist comes to the house and has a snack with L. This happened on Monday and then Friday.
I was at home for the second visit, preparing a family meal for later that night. A, the therapist arrived and while I offered her and L some private space, they chose to sit in the kitchen. L prepared her snack and A suggested she haves a drink with calories instead of water. I smiled as L said, OK, knowing that my very similar suggestions resulted in sulky refusal. They sat down at the kitchen table and chatted, talking about the snack and then about L’s plans for the future. A is a psychiatrist, she has been to medical school and now is developing other skills such as dance therapy. L told her how much she had loved dance therapy while an inpatient and they discussed what she loved about it. A asked L to draw a chart of how much anorexia affected her life and what she really wanted to be doing with the time taken up by Ed. All the time, I baked carrot cake, made beef stew and welcomed K home, who sat at the table too and spoke to A about her day. Tomorrow A will visit again and she and L will visit a local cafe to have tea and cake.
In the battle to get L well, there is no place for us to be scrutinised and judged as a family. What we need is help, care and support and a sense that we are working together to defeat anorexia. C asked me whether I thought the visits were to check up on us, to see if we are really looking after L. I laughed at this, feeling supported and trusted by the professionals who are helping us. When I sit with L insisting that food is eaten, no matter what, I know they are on my side and that is partly what gives me the confidence to do it. And when your child has a mental illness, your confidence as a parent is blown apart. Building it back up is as important as making L gain weight because without my certainty at doing the right thing, Ed can play havoc with the lives of families like ours. I really hope we can do this, because I think L is safer with CAMHS and us than as an inpatient, but time is running out for her to show that it can work.