Yesterday evening I had the privilege of attending a premiere for two short films about eating disorders. It was special in that my mum (Madeleine) and I were in one of the short films. For years my mum has supported me not only in my recovery of various eating disorders but she has always remained in the background and supported me as I set up a charity and now moved on to other work.
I always knew that she had a totally different story to tell of my recovery, she remembers the different phases I went through. The bulimic phases, the anorexic phases, the low phases.
What particularly stood out in my mind recently was when she said that when I was in an ‘anorexic phase’ that I was unreachable. She said that it appeared like I zoned in on what I was doing but that I felt far away and not even there. I know that I don’t even remember those times really, they went past in a blur and I think part of me did go somewhere when I was very low in weight. The only healer for me to be reachable was to eat and give my brain and body the medicine it needed to be able to function properly.
For years and years my mother has watched me give inspirational talks and listened to me as I talked about the battles I faced. She has not had an opportunity to talk about the battle she faced every day watching me make choices that hurt her and me.
I think what is less heard about is the carers view of eating disorders. The pain that they feel watching their loved ones battle each day. It’s not just the person who has the eating disorder who makes those countless eating choices every day but it’s the caring person who’s trying to support them and help walk them through it. To be able to get the balance right between supporting and not controlling has to be one of the most difficult skills to be learned in supporting people in to recovery.
My mum is very humble about the support and impact she had on my recovery. She has not had a voice to speak about it until now. When I saw that the opportunity arose for families to be interviewed for a film, I knew it was time for mum to have her platform. It was her time to speak and to feel the warmth and strength I often feel from people who admire our great struggle through. So, on the first day launching my website (during national carer’s week), this first post is dedicated to her and for any others who are supporting those with eating disorders. I admire your strength and your courage to continue to support people who are journeying through such a tortuous illness.