I had no idea of the impact that anorexia nervosa would have on us as a family. My daughter was hospitalised and with another sibling to look after as well as being a working wife, life imploded as I felt powerless to know what to do and felt so alone. I started off trying to fight the demon that my daughter had developed, but then realised I couldn’t do it for her, and could only support her as she fought it herself. Now in recovery we can look back over the nightmare that has been the last 2 years. I want to be able to be there for anyone else who has the misfortune to have one of their loved ones possessed by this illness. I am passionate about trying to help raise awareness in the wider community and to try and make a difference to some one else’s life.
Until you experience at first hand you cannot imagine how hard it is to cope with. The illness with a daughter you have looked after daily for 14 years suddenly instead of independence around the corner comes full dependence. The stress coupled with life's other difficulties like a full time job mean that the parents of children with eating disorders require just as much support as the sufferers themselves. Our aim is to fight the illness by sharing our experiences with others who are perhaps at the beginning of the journey and to try to raise awareness among professionals such as GPs and Teachers to ensure that children with these problems are diagnosed at an early stage to try and catch it before it goes too far.
When you mention the words anorexia nervosa you generally get the same responses – “it’s attention seeking”, “nip it in the bud”, “make them eat”, and of course, “I’d never let that happen to my child”. I’m sure I must have had at least one of those thoughts! My daughter was 12 when she developed anorexia and to say all our lives changed overnight must be the understatement of the century. You can’t even begin to understand this illness unless you live with it and even then you’re left floundering and isolated, never knowing if you’re doing things right or wrong but generally feeling devastated. To be able to pick up the phone and just talk to someone who is going through it or has a child in recovery is a lifeline and this is what I want to be able to provide, to understand and to care when it seems no-one else does. We also need to “educate” people about the devastation this illness causes, not just to the sufferer but to all the people whose lives are affected by this vile illness. My daughter is in recovery but even 3 years down the line we still take each day one step at a time.