Over the last two weeks since handing over the reins to both the unit and L’s father, I have done well. I realised I needed to get better myself and have rested and taken my medication, tried to be kind to myself and have repeatedly told myself that L is in the right place. In the first week (her fourth week of treatment) she gained the expected kilo, having gained only 200g in the previous three weeks. I take her out for snack and it is a disaster, as described earlier. And then this week, she loses another .8kg. Total weight gain after five weeks – 400g. Not even a pound.
The unit stress how important any home leave is built up very gradually and so L is not allowed to come away for our weekend in Amsterdam. Her leave this weekend consists of being allowed out after supper on Friday to see a band, but having to be back before breakfast the following morning. She sulks about this when I see her, but I remind her we agreed to do what the unit felt to be best and to support them. She seems otherwise to be doing well and is excited at the prospect of her dad collecting her and taking her to the gig. He calls me about the time he is due to collect her. He starts with the words “Don’t Worry,” so immediately I worry. An inpatient has become extremely violent and as a result they cannot accommodate L for the weekend. She will be with us until Monday. I am really pleased at the thought of having my daughter home, but wonder why, after the emphasis on the need for slow and steady, the insistence that no meal can be allowed at home until a practice meal has been held in the unit, that we are now asked to care for her all weekend.
As her father is the nominated parent, he is the one to whom this news is relayed. As expected, this does not result in any plans being dropped for the following day. He will still go to Cardiff, still go out for the evening on Saturday and meet friends for lunch on Sunday. So L will be with us. She is elated when arriving home after the gig, but disoriented. She was not given any time to collect any of her things, even toiletries and she wasn’t supplied with medication. Luckily we have some. The impression I get is of a young woman whose inner demon Ed is whooping and hollering. She tells me at last we can have nice food and could we go shopping for her favourite things. I resist this by shopping at 7am after a sleepless night worrying about how this will turn out. And it is tough, so, so tough. I try to keep every one of the unit rules. I offer the same breakfast and write carb/protein/ veg menu choices for lunch and tea. I write a snack list. I allow her to choose and I time meals. It is utterly exhausting. And Anorexia has a field day, crowing through L that it doesn’t matter what she eats, no one gives a shit, the unit don’t care, that I should leave her alone and no other parents get involved. We get through each meal. Her boyfriend pleads for her to have a meal at his house and I have to refuse. I feel annoyance that his parents have already prepared special food, having not had the courtesy to speak to me first. Most of all I try and manage all of this on top of knowing how I still find the smallest task hard. Happily, unlike her father, I rarely venture out of the house so I am permanently “here”. But frequently, I wish I wasn’t.