Chris and I have been facilitating groups for carers of adult sufferers this week and it is humbling to witness the unconditional love, patience, creativity, perseverance and sense of humour that you can all draw upon even after several years of helping your loved ones in their battles with their illness.
On this theme of caring for an adult sufferer, I am delighted to announce we have a father and daughter visiting our group on March 1 and I attach a short piece they have written on their journey thus far.
Megan has suffered from anorexia diagnosed since she was 20, but suffered from the illness since she was around 14 years old. She has also had a supporting diagnosis for body dysmorphia and anxiety disorder. She has had various forms of therapy over the years, including psychiatric in-patient support, as well as CBT, psycho-dynamic therapy and most recently part of the SPEAKS study run in Kent and Sussex that aims to develop a psychological intervention with a focus on working with emotion.
Whilst not fully recovered and still remaining in regular therapy, Megan has come a long way in her relationship with herself and the emotions surrounding food, exercise, her work and education and friendships. She is now at a healthy weight and has many more insights into her recovery journey through the exploration of emotions, unconscious reactions to her surroundings and learning to challenge the voice inside her head called ‘Annie’. She wants to share her story in the hope she will empower others to do the same and speak out, as well as help break down the stigma of eating disorders being more than just about food.
Her relationship with her parents has transformed through her journey towards recovery, although the road not always easy and there were many battles along the way. Knowing what did and didn’t help and the language her Dad learned, enabled her to talk openly about it, so much so that she invited him into her therapy sessions for a period of time. That has now developed a safe relationships between them that allows her to share openly without fear.
Martin is Megan’s dad and is married to Sue, Megan’s mum. Megan is my eldest daughter of two girls. Her sister Rebecca is 27 and training to be a psychiatrist). Megan was always quite particular as a small child. For example, she was very particular about the clothes she wore and how they were worn. She was also a very driven child, wanting to be the best and to please her parents and grandparents. She was and still is a very loving person. Sue and I did not really appreciate or understand Megan’s condition until her late teenage years. However, when she was diagnosed, it was like the penny dropping into place.
Our relationship has not always been as good at it is today. This I believe is due to my own lack of understanding of her illness and also in part denial that my daughter could be affected by this. I saw the signs but had a blind spot on the cause. I believe that acceptance of her diagnosis and of who Megan is was the key to our relationship growing to what it is today where she is confident to tell me how she is feeling without the fear that she will be told what to do.
I know that Megan may have difficult periods during her life due to this condition. However she knows that both Sue and myself plus the additional support of her sister and partner will always be there for her.