Friendships lost to an eating disorder

>>  Sunday, June 19, 2016

As Cog's illness rumbles on across the months in bouts of sunshine and despair, I am starting to learn about who my real friends are and so is she.

It's all clich├ęs but a real friend is the one who comes and holds your hand whilst you cry and listens to you for far too long on the phone as you repeat yourself over and over despite there being a film on they wanted to watch.  They keep offering to be there, to talk or just to listen and keep asking how it is going.

They do not decide you are no longer much fun to be with and stop associating with you.

Cog has slowly socially isolated herself at school because she has to eat alone and focus on the task in hand, watching other people eat less than her makes her feel greedy and stops her eating.  Listening to girls talk about diets and fat thighs feeds every eating disorder trigger to be had so she stays away from it as much as possible.  But she hoped her friends would understand and let her into the circles as and when she could.  She was wrong. She has been finding this hard lesson out across the course of a few months but it ended in a final bang when she saw Facebook pictures of what she has been missing and what she is not included in.

Some of this is my fault, Cog no longer has unfettered internet access, she no longer has whatsapp, snapchat, twitter.  All of these things were feeding a channel to pro-ana - they had to stop.  But despite telling people she no longer had internet access it seems person to person conversations, even hard ones, cannot be had in school.

So I found myself sat with a 17 year old in the tears of a young child , cuddled up to me, desperately lamenting friendships lost to an eating disorder.  And even more than that: questioning whether life is worth living, death is a better option.  All for the lack of a peer who is brave enough to be supportive to a very sick friend and say "do you know what, you aren't much fun to be with right now, but I'm still your friend"

I too have found my hand holders and also those that would rather brush off my pain as 'disillusional' and 'irrational'.  Unfortunately, I'm not as calm, and understanding as Cog, I've told those that have let me down exactly how they have done that and how much I needed them to think before they acted as they have.

I'm old enough to know that most things are transitional, this too shall pass.  Cog is not.  Cog is at breaking point.  I have never really been a mama bear, I've spent parenthood telling her to let things go, to take solace from things that feel unjust in the good feeling of knowing that what she did was right.  Let it go.  A few times I have gone hell for leather at the schools but this time I went straight to the parent and 'child'.  Cog will not thank me for it, she would rather let things go.  When she was healthy enough to stand up for herself (if she chose to) that was fine, they were her battles to be taken up or not as she wished.   But now she is not healthy, and I am not prepared to see my child contemplating death over life because of thoughtless acts.  I will fight her corner.  

So I thank my friends and hers, that are there.  People that have full plates of their own, anxieties, illnesses, grief of their own and yet are still finding the time to hold hands by email, text, swimming pool, lengthy phone calls, walks and small measures of kindness.

To those others that do not understand, that cannot make time to try and try again to connect when a socially isolated person cannot find the right way to come back to the normal world, when depression holds them back from being able to jump up at invites.....well....I hope you never learn the hard way what it really takes to support someone in this mess.

And to those people of my past that I let down by not being there when they needed me most and am still eternally sorry.


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