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Please eat...: A mother's struggle to free her teenage son from anorexia, by Bev Mattocks

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, January 1, 2013
Updated: Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Bright, popular and a star on the rugby pitch, 15 year old Ben had everything he could want. But then food-loving Ben began to systematically starve himself. At the same time his urge to exercise became extreme. In a matter of months Ben lost one quarter of his bodyweight as he plunged into anorexia nervosa, an illness that threatened to destroy him. 

Please eat... A mother's struggle to free her teenage son from anorexia is his mother's heart-breaking yet inspirational account of how she watched helplessly as her son transformed into someone she didn't recognise, physically and mentally. It also describes how, with the help of his parents and therapist, and through his own determination, Ben slowly began to recover and re-build his life.

More About the Author: Bev Mattocks 
Bev Mattocks is a long-time F.E.A.S.T. member and ATDT Forum Mentor.

Tags:  anorexia  boys  Mattocks 

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Eva Musby says...
Posted Wednesday, August 20, 2014
This is an honest and insightful account of how Bev Mattocks (a member of F.E.A.S.T)supported her son Ben as he journeyed through the hell of anorexia and out into the light. Her story is typical of many parents' experience with the illness. She hunted high and low for information and support, she battled the shamefully inadequate health system, she attended to her son's schooling and social life, dealt with enormous tensions at home, and made some heart-warming friends along the way. This is also very much Ben's story: from the opening scene where we find him in hospital hooked up to a heart monitor, we're rooting for him to come out winning and we celebrate every step towards his recovery.

There are several things that make this book different from others. First, Bev is totally transparent about her emotions. If your own child is suffering from an eating disorder, you will easily relate to the exhaustion, fear and grief that frequently overwhelmed her, as well as to her determination and staying power. At times we get a glimpse into the strain on Bev's husband as well.

But this isn't a story of despair: Bev kept moving on, searching for solutions, working through obstacles, and placing herself firmly by her son's side. And here lies another precious aspect of this book: because Ben is totally on board with his story being told truthfully, every now and again we get his version of terrible events. This gives us a rare insight into what might be going on in the mind of someone in the grips of anorexia.
Ben began making progress when he and his parents worked as a team, and when the health professionals began to support their joint efforts. This is hardly a surprise, given the studies showing the success of Family-Based Treatment (as documented by Lock and Le Grange). For many children, effective treatment comes from parents taking over everything related to food and exercise, but this was not an option for Bev: if you're in the same situation, you will learn much from her slow but steady success with a collaborative, softly-softly approach based on joint agreements and rewards.

This book takes you on an emotional journey, taking you through the everyday reality of dealing with anorexia. If you're a health professional, read it to understand what parents are struggling with at home. You will learn things that parents might not dare tell you in your consulting room. If your friends or relatives think that anorexia is simply a refusal to eat, get them to read Ben's story. And if you believe anorexia is a girl thing, this book will sweep away your misconceptions.
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