I have just joined, basically out of desperation. My soon to be (days) 17 year old daughter is suffering from AN and has been certainly for the last 15 months, but the problem probably goes back at least 5 years, maybe longer. She was discharged from an NHS Adolescent Mental Health Unit two weeks ago. She can't return to home; it and the locality is too much of a trigger and she want her independence, which as parents, my wife and I have accepted and continue to support her. We have/had a plan; her cousin, my wife's niece, is a qualified social worker and primary school teacher and lives in a City 45 minutes away. The cousin and boyfriend have offered to support her in their small flat in the very short term, until the local authority can help through a local charity. It seemed ideal.
For all our daughter's demands for independent living, her adolescence, combined with a total change in character, stimulated by the experience of living in close proximity with other young people suffering from a multitude of mental health issues not solely confined to eating disorders, has proved to be a highly volatile mix. Our daughter has been greatly influenced by one young 16 year old girl, with whom she has become extremely close. This young person is very troubled, suffering from Bulimia and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and extensively uses social media networks to express herself. Sadly, it is in an extreme way; explicit views of self-harm, young female skeletal AN sufferers, an images verging on sadism. What is frightening is that our daughter cannot see through this, so desperate is she for a meaningful close friendship. Sadly, her secondary school friendships were marred by bullying and a performance-focused Grammar school mentality.
Yesterday, over the phone I confronted her about her over-exercising, food restriction, continued self-harm over the last two weeks and asked her about the friend's web posted imagery. She was staying with a friend of hers for a couple of nights, who was at college for the day. The consequence was, an argument between father and daughter and an overdose of paracetamol washed down with half a bottle of vodka, resulting an admission to hospital. This is the second time in 3 months; the first occurred whilst she was still an in-patient on the unit. I was waiting 5 hours last night in A and E before my daughter finally agreed to speak to me. I stayed nearby overnight we had some time together again this morning. My wife went this evening after eventually persuading our daughter over the phone to let her.
Where we go from here; your guess is as good as mine, my wife and I are clinging on to threads of hope; at least our daughter is still reaching out to us. CAMHS are in support, including Outreach teams. We are two loving, caring proud parents of two great children; our daughter has a younger 11 year old brother and we are approaching 25 years of marriage. I have worked in some of the most demanding and intimidating environments in the world, but I have never been so intimidated before in my life until having to deal with this illness and the suffering it causes. It is tearing the fabric of our family into shreds. It is extremely difficult to see where we go from here. We seem to be just staring into an abyss.