You may be reading this because you’ve discovered that someone you love has a mental illness or an eating disorder. If it’s a recent discovery you probably don’t know where to turn. Even doctors might not be able to explain the illness to you. If it’s early on in the diagnosis, they will find it hard to tell you what is going on. You probably don’t know how you’re supposed to behave around your child. You wonder if your actions are making things better or worse. You might find yourself hiding in your room or bathroom or car or wherever no one can see you because you can’t stop crying when you are “supposed” to stay calm. And worst of all, you’re probably feeling guilty that somehow, someway this is your fault because it was your responsibility to protect your child from whatever event or problem started it in the first place.
Please do not give up hope. My main reason for starting this blog is to let you know that you are not alone. When all this began, I felt terribly alone and misunderstood. There were nights that I locked myself in my room so that my family members could not see me breaking down. I was terrified. I felt guilty. I thought it was my fault. I thought I had completely failed as a mother. I would end up on the floor weeping and unable to find a way to calm myself down. I wasn’t looking for peace. I was looking for a way to get through the night. I knew I had to get up the next morning and fight for my child’s life.
What did I do? On a few of these occasions I surfed the web to find help for families in our situation. There is some excellent medical advice out there. Personally, I like the Mayo Clinic website because it’s credible. Nevertheless, I couldn’t find many sites that were personal. (Recently, I have found an excellent community on Twitter that I was ignorant of at the time.) I found sites that talked about “rules” you can have at home while living with a bulimic. One man wrote that he had a rule with his daughter that she could not vomit at other people’s houses. I found this terrifying. I didn’t want my son vomiting in any house, including my own.
Now after almost a year of knowing, I realize it’s not that simple. We all do what we can with what we’ve been dealt. Every situation and every case is different. Some people are able to recover sooner than others. I hope your case is one of those.
Please do not give up hope. Maybe tomorrow I’ll tell you more about what we’ve been through. We’ve had nights at the hospital in the emergency room, two long-term hospital stays and outpatient treatment. There are many ups and downs. Progress is slow. Sometimes he goes backwards. It’s not his failure. It’s not my failure. It’s not your failure.
There will be times when you feel that there is no hope and the pain will be so intense that you don’t think you’ll get through it. I actually made a pact with myself that if I couldn’t take it anymore, I would walk myself into the hospital and tell them to do whatever they needed to do to keep me alive and going.
But I am still here. I’m still learning. After eight months of blaming myself for everything, I’ve finally realized that it wasn’t my fault or anything that I did or didn’t do. That is progress.
My son also suffers from severe depression. Lately, he is communicating more. That is progress.
Please do not give up hope. Progress is slow. Step by step.