Today was the appointment to discuss L’s second period of inpatient treatment. The day didn’t start well; I had very little sleep, K refused to attend school – which was fine, really, just not an argument I wanted at 7am – and the rain lashed down outside. Never mind finding life on other planets – can the scientific community develop a cure for everything which involves wrapping up in a duvet and sleeping for weeks?
By the time L and I set off, it was brighter. We were held up by two ambulances and a police car blocking the street near our house and I looked at the people gathered outside and reminded my self that ours was not the only family going through a tough time. When we arrived, L’s father was already there and we waited in the seating area. Within minutes a young woman was banging on the front doors begging to be allowed out and crying hysterically. Calm nurses reassured her and kept her from leaving. This has never happened before while I have been there and it made me cry. L held my hand; she told me she knew the young woman who had been there before and was probably sectioned.
The unit has been refurbished and we went into the Blue Room, a small comfortable room, with sofas, a coffee table bearing the inevitable box of tissues. The senior psychologist who runs the ED programme produced a thick file from L’s last stay. She asked L how things were and what had brought her back. I found out that L takes laxatives each night. I told them my account of what I believed the problem to be – that L wants to be better, but not to gain weight. I am told that weight is to be restored, not gained and this makes so much sense, like the missing part of L that will make her well. As if she is now an incomplete person and somewhere in the atmosphere is the 10 or so kg she needs to gain to make her brain start to work properly again. She is tough with L, she makes clear that this time, it will be harder, that they will expect more from her and she needs to really make some tough choices if she is ever to be better. She asks L what she thinks it is like for me to see the child I carried in my body and nurtured for years, destroy herself in this way. This is treatment with no punches pulled. L seems stunned. She is asked to consider if she can commit to treatment. I make clear that returning to college is not an option. If she refuses treatment, she will remain at home, while CAMHS consider the use of section 3 of the Mental Health Act. We are asked to think about a decision, and brought tea and biscuits. Her dad and I tell her we believe she needs to be admitted. She doesn’t fight, but I can tell she doesn’t agree. But choices are a long way behind us now.
And so, tomorrow, she will pack clothes and personal items and head for the unit again. This time she will have her own room, with an en suite bathroom and a view over a wooded valley. There she must stay until weight is gained and if it is not, more drastic measures may be needed. When we return home, she goes to see The Boyfriend and K, C and I sit at the table while I tell them the news. We discuss how we feel and all agree that it is exhaustion sprinkled with sadness, topped with relief. We need her well and that won’t happen at home, not yet.