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Helen's story

When our son was diagnosed with anorexia we were shocked, and felt like our whole lives had turned upside down. I felt like I’d let him down and couldn’t understand how I hadn’t realised what was wrong with him. We had always been close and able to talk as a family. Our son was admitted to a specialist unit for a few months and the staff helped all of us in a supportive, caring way. Over this period of time I felt that I had stepped out of normal life. When going out I would look at people around me getting on with their lives and didn’t feel a part of it. I did continue working after having a period of time off and this helped to bring some normality into my life. My husband was always supportive and we were able to benefit from family therapy, something that helped us by giving us skills in which to help our son and ourselves. We would meet with a nurse regularly and discuss how things were going, as well as planning actions for the following weeks. We would discuss ways in which we could help support our son while also being aware we needed to make time for ourselves. This carried on for a little while after our son was discharged from the unit and I feel that it was pivotal in our son’s recovery.

At first I was anxious and worried when I left my son alone and wanted to protect him from everything. I felt I did not want to let him down. He needed to build his self esteem and for his life not to be dominated by worries about food and eating. We planned meals out together and over time as a family became more relaxed about eating. I feel our son is also getting back his life, he loves music and got involved writing music reviews and also is involved with Beat as an ambassador and he has worked with other charities. He was also able to attend college and is doing a music course now.

I never really saw myself and my husband as carers as you feel as a parent you are there for your children. Many of the emotions and situations we have been through have been nightmarish at times and I have felt it would never end. You do feel at times that you are living a different life to everyone else. I have tried to support my son by being there for him and to look at the positives. I did not feel I would help him by being confrontational as I felt this would make things worse. Also by letting him find his independence again and trusting him in order for his confidence and self esteem to improve.

I have found Beat to be a supportive organisation and have met other carers through Beat and it is good to meet other people in a similar situation, they are the people who know what it is like.