Saturday, July 27, 2013

Pull your finger out

The nice thing about Marcella is that I can ignore her for months, and then when I need her, dust her off and get her to do the things that I don't have the courage, or sometimes the right, to do under my own name.

Several things have come together in the last couple of weeks to cause me to do so this time and I'm letting Marcella have a go at a rant on my behalf. Ignore her if you've heard it all before.....

I'm all for parents being included in treatment of anything their child happens to suffer from, and especially since one of my children happens to suffer from one, of eating disorders. I'm all for parents continuing to learn how to best help their children throughout their journey with the illness. NO, I REALLY AM.

I happen to think that many parents could do with a lot more help in doing so, real, on the ground practical help not just 50 minutes a fortnight being told how badly they're doing but I would, wouldn't I!?

I bristled a bit (OK a lot) at the part of this excellent article which stated that “One of the biggest problems is that people do not take this disease seriously,” says James Lock, an eating disorders researcher at Stanford University who cowrote the book on family-based treatment. “No one gets upset at a child who has cancer,” he says. “If the treatment is hard, parents still do it because they know they need to do it to make their child well.” Yes, it's true. Yes, these ARE serious illnesses on a par with leukaemia or brittle asthma. Yes, parents MUST take them seriously and do all that they can to get help for, and to actively give help to, their child. Yes, there is a culture of not taking these diseases seriously. But REALLY? Is it the terrified parents who are sitting in his office, or the millions more who can't get near it for reasons of finance or geography or information, who aren't taking the illness seriously, or is it the rest of the world?

Is the parent who takes their child to A&E because she hasn't eaten her meal taking it seriously or making it worse - well it will largely depend on the reaction of the A&E staff. If they back her up and help the child to eat then it'll be the former, but if, after the 3 hour wait, they tell mother to calm down dear and send them on their merry way, it won't. Is the parent who begs for admission for their child taking the illness seriously or running away from his or her responsibilities as a parent to sort this out at home? Is the parent who listens to and takes the advice of the highly recommended, hard researched and paid for, therapist who tells them not to be the "food police" being unutterable wimp or trying hard to rescue their child from a terrible illness with all the (inadequate) help they can muster? Is the parent who calls the police when the child is violent towards siblings or runs away from home being sensible or "getting upset at" their child?

This one comment in an excellent article rubbed me up the wrong way not because there's anything wrong with it per se but because of the context within which I am reading it. I KNOW that that's largely MY problem, that others, even those families facing the same illnesses, don't live in the same skewed looking at life upside down world that I do. Others don't look it immediately as a call to lazy incompetent parents to pull their fingers out.

However I do think that, in a world where a completely respectable specialist charity can post this awful article which, leaving aside the question of the visual image, seems to argue that  eating disorders are choices and if only they could work harder and challenge themselves everyone with them could recover and climb Everest; in a world where senior political figures with the best of motives still can't tell the difference between dubious "body image" initiatives and working towards treating eating disorders seriously; in a world where senior clinicians are seriously considering initiatives that call for parents to apologise for their children's eating disorders and argue that knowledge of the biological underpinning of such illnesses is unhelpful, parents really aren't the only people who could do with a lecture or two from the fantastic Walter Kaye. 

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