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RECOGNISING THE SIGNS

What on earth do we do? How can we rescue our child? Ideally, we would have prevented Helen from reaching this stage had I given more credence to the signs that Fiona had already spotted. However, as the locum psychiatrist who initially saw Helen made clear, these signs are easily overlooked and, therefore, I should not feel any guilt about my lack of perception. After all, as he informed me, he had missed the signs in his own daughter!

Other signs of anorexia, apart from weight loss, which Helen exhibited included:

  • Changes in eating habits such as skipping meals;
  • More meals being supposedly consumed outside of our direct supervision;
  • An increasingly restricted range of foods being consumed;
  • Unaccustomed amounts of food left on the plate;
  • Constant excuses as to why a meal could not be eaten or finished;
  • A growing obsession with the bathroom scales;
  • A sudden interest in diet and exercise.

However, and this is very important, there were few apparent signs of mental or emotional distress. At this point, the anorexia was perceived by Helen as a friendly and comforting entity which was simply guiding her towards an ideal weight which would make her feel good about herself. Therefore, her spirits seemed to be buoyant. And the anorexia rewarded her continual weight loss with feelings of well-being.

But once this weight loss began to threaten her physical well-being, Helen suddenly fell into the trap which must surely await all those newly recruited captives to this illness. Weight loss suddenly became traumatic and the anorexia revealed its true nature. It was no longer the friend it had appeared to be but a very severe task master which now began to punish her severely if she dared not to adhere to its programme of continual weight reduction. It was at this point that Helen had her nervous breakdown and truly fell into a despair which could be aptly characterised by the cliché of being caught between a rock and a hard place.

If your child is displaying anorexic symptoms, then you too must be frantically wondering what on earth you can do to stop the madness. The aim of this website is not to give advice - after all, we are not qualified to do so - but simply to explain to you exactly what we did in order to destroy the anorexia before it could destroy Helen.

At the time of writing this (August 2004), Helen is14 ½ years old, 5’ 2” tall and weighs 7 stone 5 pounds. This is only half a stone lighter than when her problems began. However, now she is about 2 inches taller. She is happy with her weight and appearance. She is confident, cheerful and outgoing with a wide circle of friends and interests. She sees her dietician once every couple of months in order to be weighed and to have her height measured. Her target now is to maintain her healthy BMI - and not to become a skeleton! Therefore, as she grows taller she welcomes (really!) the opportunity to put on the additional few pounds required to adjust her weight to her new height and so maintain a constant BMI. Our dearest wish is that our account of how we saved our child may in some way help you to save yours, thus rescuing your beloved daughter (or son) from a life-term of certain misery and premature death.


Changes in eating habits such as skipping meals
A growing obsession with the bathroom scales
A sudden interest in diet and exercise
Unaccustomed amounts of food left on the plate