Dear Sue

I am sorry this has taken so long to do, but here is a copy of the letter I have sent to the E.D.A.

Liz had a wonderful summer, lots of time to do what she wanted and no pressure to ‘perform’ from anyone.  She did extremely well in her GCSE’s and seems to have gone back to school happily.  She is really well – she’s eating, sleeping, smiling, laughing and socialising.

I can’t begin to thank you enough, for all the help you gave us – I find the change in Liz quite over whelming and know that without your help, Liz would not be as well as she is now.

There is really nothing else to say except thank you, thank you, thank you!

Yours Alice (Countesthorpe, Leicestershire)

Dear Editor

When our daughter was fifteen our G.P. referred her to the Paediatric Psychiatric Services to see if they could help with her anorexia.  We had very high hopes, but were disappointed.  Each visit consisted of Liz being weighed and told that she had lost weight and needed to eat more.  Then the Psychiatrist would ask me how Liz was and we would make an appointment for the next week.  I don’t think that the Psychiatrist had any particular expertise in eating disorders and Liz did not feel that he had any empathy with her plight.  Each appointment lasted between ten and twenty minutes.

After four months Liz said that she didn’t want to go again as she didn’t think it was any help and was “a waste of time”.  Liz’s weight was reasonably stable at the time so with the support of our G.P. we politely declined any further treatment.

Four months later our daughter was very unhappy, very tearful, isolating herself more and more, sleeping very poorly and her weight was falling alarmingly.  Looking back at that time, I find it hard to believe that she really was that ill, but she was.  As a family our whole lives were organised around what and when Liz would eat, whilst at the same time pretending to the outside world that everything was normal.  Our G.P. referred us to our local Eating Disorders Service (we were lucky enough to have a specialist unit nearby) which at sixteen, Liz was now a candidate for.

However, Liz’s health deteriorated and one tearful afternoon, I scoured the Yellow Pages for counselling services and also contacted the EDA.  I then offered Liz the choice of help I had found which we could use whilst waiting for the hospital appointment (which we had been told could be up to six months).  Liz decided that she might be able to talk to Sue whose name I had got from the EDA.  Liz chose Sue because she had personal experience of an eating disorder and Liz was desperate to be understood.  I think that it was possibly the best decision we have ever made.  Within minutes I was on the phone to Sue and began to feel that maybe there was hope after all.

It took us forty-five minutes to get to Burton on Trent for Liz’s first appointment with Sue a few days later.  I waited in the car outside whilst Liz talked to Sue.  On the way home Liz said “I think she might help, she was lovely and really understanding.

We had a letter from the hospital offering us an assessment appointment and telling us that there would be a two to three month wait before Liz would be assigned a therapist.  Liz continued to see Sue and after the first visit, wanted me to be with her “so you can see what it’s like”, I was apprehensive about this because I did not want my presence to inhibit Liz.  However, it did work well, Liz didn’t seem to feel inhibited and I gained a greater understanding of Liz’s dilemma.  After each appointment Liz was a little happier and a little more relaxed.  Sue never weighed Liz, or told her she wasn’t eating enough.  This was very important to Liz, to be viewed as a whole, real person rather than a severely underweight anorexic was a refreshing change and did Liz’s self-esteem the power of good.

When we went to the hospital for Liz’s assessment appointment almost the first thing they did was weigh her.  Whilst I realise that it may be necessary as an indication of progress.  Liz felt she was instantly categorised as an anorexic, whereas she just wanted to be herself, to be known for who she was, not what she was.

We continued to see Sue who taught Liz that she can make her own choices in life, whether to eat or not, to stay in or go out, to take charge of her life and do what she wanted to do, not what she thought other people wanted her to do.  Sue encouraged Liz to acknowledge things that had happened in the past, to deal with them and then move on.  If something had been troubling Liz, Sue suggested strategies for coping with that situation and gradually Liz has been able to make her own decisions about her life.

We had a family Christening this weekend, the old Liz would have thought of the family, her aunt and grandparents and gone to the Christening.  The new confident Liz has refused to go saying “I’m sixteen, it’s a Sunday morning and I shall be in bed”.  We supported her wholeheartedly!

Liz is so much better – she still has her ‘blips’ but now knows how to deal with them and if she can’t cope we know we can go and see Sue. Liz is now eating because she wants to be well, not because she has been told to and has gained one and a half stone.  She is in control of her life, not just her eating.  On her last visit to the hospital Liz refused the offer of a therapist because she feels, Sue’s approach and support is better suited to her than the constant weighing and note taking.  Liz expects to be discharged from the hospital in November.

Ten months ago I thought the only hope for Liz was a hospital bed and so did she. Now we have been shown a different way and will be forever grateful to Sue who has shown us a different approach.  It’s so lovely to have our happy, confident daughter back.

Hi Sue,
Thank you so much for my certificate it’s absolutely lovely.
A friend said to me the other day you seem so much happier and different I’m so pleased for you.
That dear Sue is down to you❤️so thank you again.
I’ve been through the school of hard knocks but like you I’m a survivor.
I am a volunteer phone befriended for the elderly I have 6 lovely ladies that I call every week we have serious chats but most of all lots of laughs.
Between them and you what a difference it has made to me.
Sending you love and hugs❤❤
Dee xxx