Being a mum is both absolutely rewarding and utterly terrifying at the same time, when they are small you can generally scoop them up, cover them with kisses and put a plaster over the scuffed knee or an ouchy finger, but as they grow and become independent, discover their own tastes, likes, dislikes & grow up it becomes more and more difficult to do this .. this at times is the hardest part of being a mum.
Phoebe is my oldest child & only daughter .. sweet 16, a beautiful spirited, clever, funny & very independent young lady … a girl who definitely knows her own mind … a girl who can tell you exactly what career she would like to go into, a girl who is the polar opposite of a 16 year old me .. I am one very proud mum
Currently though the urge to scoop her up and make everything better is very much what I want to do .. but unfortunately I am unable to make things better by doing that … Phoebe is anorexic with severe orthoexia a “relation” to anorexia which is all about eating “clean foods” basically reducing food groups & what you eat slowly but surely, she was admitted to hospital a couple of weeks ago and spent a week there on bed rest, she is now home but still resting.
How it came to this is beyond me .. I am still struggling to come to terms with it and asking myself the same questions over and over, how did I not notice, how can I help her recover, how can I make sure this never (and I mean never) happens to her again …. why has this happened, what occurred to make this horrible illness get into my daughters head and take control .. and of course am I a good mum, have I let her down?
Phoebe is very much into her fitness, she is studying GCSE PE & is a very well respected member of our local gym, she is also studying and interested in nutrition, so understands what she needs to eat to remain healthy & fit, which is one of the reasons why I don’t understand how this has happened. Everything was or seemed fine and normal over Christmas … Phoebe works as a waitress and worked hard over the festive period .. that’s Phoebe though 110% in everything she does. She went back to school to start her GCSE MOCK’s and we also had our trip to London over the following weekend, all seemed well. Then at the beginning of February she got a virus and was for the first time in many years off school ill, she was utterly exhausted that week and maybe that’s when the eating disorder took hold … maybe it had been there slowly growing, but I hadn’t seen .. I would certainly say that through my eyes this is when the changes happened … Phoebe always fit, strong & toned started looking thinner, her eyes looked sunken into her head, she had very little energy, she started to look gaunt … but she kept going, one evening in the February half term she came to me and said she hated feeling so tired and so rubbish .. I said we’d book a doctors appointment and maybe get her bloods checked just in case as I was concerned about her weight loss, I remember it so well that evening she took off her t-shirt in front of me I think to show me her new sports bra … and I can recall feeling shock & utter panic as I saw the extent of her weight loss, her back usually so toned and strong was instead showing every bone, she looked so tiny, so fragile .. she was disappearing before my eyes … why had I not noticed how bad it had gotten until now?
Due to her waitressing shifts Phoebe often ate her main meal at about 9pm, so I didnt see that she was cutting back on not only her evening meal, but also cutting back on what she ate during the day (Phoebe loves baking & cooking and would often cook her own meals in the evening) … certainly my failing as mum was that I let meal times together slide letting them eat on the sofa and sometimes in their bedrooms! This has now stopped and we eat together in the evenings.
After seeing the doctor Phoebe was referred to CAMHS for counselling, on that first Thursday seeing the counselor, both of us thinking it would just an hours chat it came as a massive shock that she was admitted to hospital and put on complete bed rest that afternoon. I was being completely naive thinking that I could just say to her to eat more and encourage her to do so & that it would all be OK .. totally off the mark there! Even though it was literally only two weeks ago that Phoebe was admitted to hospital looking back I see that it was a kick up the arse I needed … she has been put on an eating plan which will slowly re-introduce her body to food and help her gain the weight she so desperately needs to gain & will continue with the counselling …
I am well aware that this is not a quick fix of a plaster, that this is a long and often difficult road, that she will shout & probably (for a short while) hate me for trying to encourage her to maybe eat that extra mouthful of food, for getting her outside her comfort zone .. that some days will be good and others bad .. that we will both laugh and cry a lot … but, and I believe this from the pit of my stomach, I believe that Phoebe will come out of this a stronger more determined young lady .. that she will beat this horrible vile illness and never look back .. she will use it to her advantage, becoming a more knowledgeable & sympathetic young lady … and I will be proudest of all .. she is my girl .. I love her from the bottom of my heart …
** Phoebe read through this post and is happy for me to publish it **