20 November 2016

One Year Today...

On 20th November 2015, I sat on the sofa at Rharian Fields Specialist Eating Disorder Unit, crying my eyes out, trying to find the words to thank all of the staff for everything they had done for me. After 127 days, I was being discharged from hospital and the emotions were overwhelming. I was given a second chance at life- an opportunity that a few months prior, I never thought I would have been granted, or that I deserved.

Although not obvious to an onlooker, this weekend I celebrated. Yesterday, I enjoyed a wonderful afternoon out with a group of friends; eating a meal and watching a film at the cinema. Today, I went food shopping and spent the afternoon with another friend before heading into the city centre to watch the Christmas light switch. I didn’t feel the need to share with them why this weekend was so special, but with a smile on my face for the entire duration, I knew within myself its significance.

However, as I returned from my food-shopping trip this morning, I checked the post box and found an envelope. As I headed back to my room, I opened the package to find something that really hit home how far I have come. Inside was a beautiful charm to add to my bracelet and a touching note written by my family. I say I had a smile on my face all weekend, but at this moment the tears came. Not tears of sadness, but tears of gratitude, happiness and determination. I would not have made it to this point if it were not for the professionals, my family and my incredible friends that have stood by me every step of the way.

I am so thankful to be where I am today- maybe not in a tiny room in student halls- but for the opportunities that I have been given. I want to prove to people that recovery is achievable- not easy, but achievable! If I can do it, so can you.

14 November 2016

A Mother's Perspective- One Year On...

When I think back to this time last year, I was backwards and forwards to Grimsby, visiting Jess in hospital. Now, I am travelling to Sheffield to visit her at university, as she has a full calendar and struggling to find the time to be able to come home.

I never thought that life would ever be normal again, but here I am, a year later, doing the things a parent does with their child- taking her clothes shopping, enjoying a meal out and going food shopping with ease- simple pleasures that were impossible this time last year.

It is lovely to see my daughter full of life, glowing, socialising and most of all being happy with life. As a parent, nothing compares to that feeling of witnessing your child healthy and content.

I do not have any concerns about her- she is healthy. However, if I am worried about anything I can ask her now and we can discuss it rationally- without the flaring temper and out of character behaviour. Just a few weeks ago, I expressed to Jess that I was concerned about the lack of physical monitoring she was having following her transition to the new doctor’s surgery in Sheffield. Without an argument or defensive response, she agreed to visit the doctor the following day and explain her medical history so that she could be seen regularly.

I have also noticed changes when Jess does visit home. On the rare occasion that she came home for the weekend, I was able to cook her tea on the Friday and Saturday night without her lingering in the kitchen, observing how I prepared the meals. This time last year, Jess would have scrutinised every move that I made, leaving me no choice but to allow the Anorexia to win even myself over. I know that I should not have let this happen, but you have to understand just how powerful this illness is and the control it takes over the whole family of the sufferer, not just the sufferer themselves. Every day I felt like I was walking on eggshells, unsure of how Jess or the Anorexia was going to react to anything that was said.

We still have days of uncertainty, but nothing compared to the level that we experienced before, and when this happens we just talk through it- we can be open and honest with each other. I notice that Jess is still not confident with her own perception of herself, with the odd questions about how she looks and if she still needs to gain weight. But before I have chance to answer the question, she responds herself by confirming that she needs to be a comfortable healthy weight that is not on the borderline of being underweight.

As Jess has been so open with her illness and written this blog, she has had a lot of people contacting her not only from the UK but also around the world, to which she responds with no hesitation and is only too willing to help. I obviously would have never wanted this illness to happen, but in some ways it is now leading Jess’ path in life. Obviously there has been a lot of heartache over the last few years, but it is strange how things turn out and that some good can come out of it. She is able to help other people in various ways, and ultimately wants to make a difference so that there is further help out there for other sufferers and carers.

As I have said, this time last year Jess was in hospital. If anybody had have said to me that next year your daughter would be living a fulfilled life again, and even climbing the highest mountain in England, as much as I would have wanted that to be right, I would have never believed it could be true. 


I could not be any happier or prouder of what she has achieved.