***Trigger Warning - Discussions of eating disorders***
Eating disorders are serious mental health conditions that can affect you emotionally, physically and socially.
A mum whose daughter is being cared for in our inpatient Mental Health Services shares her family's journey living with eating disorders.
Mum, who asked to be kept anonymous, said: "When my daughter was in high school, she said she wanted to cut out junk food and exercise more as she read it would help with her GCSEs. This didn't ring alarm bells at the time, but over the coming months, I noticed her moods were really changing and she was losing a lot of weight.”
The family went to their local GPs and were referred to their local Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) and given an eating plan to follow.
Mum said: "It was a difficult time, my daughter was very reluctant to eat, and we weren't making progress. Eventually, we had a call from CAMHS to say that they were worried about her heart rate and that we had to go to hospital."
The family were put on a waiting list and, in January, were told that there was a space in our Trust's Eating Disorder Inpatient Unit in Birmingham.
Mum explained: "It was a really difficult time and affected the family hugely. The hardest thing is feeling like you're a failure, but we've come to accept there's nothing we could have done, and we are so lucky that she is getting the care she needs.”
She added: "I can only praise the NHS. They are under huge stress, but the ward gives us immediate, hands-on care. They also support my husband and I with therapy sessions with families who have been through the same thing.
"It’s great that we are very much involved with our daughter's care. We take part in therapy sessions and visit as often as we can. If we have any questions or concerns, we can call the ward at any time, 24 hours a day."
Our Eating Disorder Unit has 12 beds and cares for young people aged 11-18 with eating disorders.
Mum said: "Eating disorders are more common than we realise, and it's so important that we continue to raise awareness so more people have a better understanding of them."
"To any other parents going through the same thing, I would say to make sure you can look after yourself, or you won't be able to support your young person. Ask questions if you are not sure, and more importantly than anything else, never give up hope.
"Eating disorders are still a part of our lives, but our daughter has made progress and I've seen an improvement in her mental and physical health. She's a highflier academically and continues with her work as there is a school on site. She now comes home to see us on the weekends, and we see hope for the future."
If you want to find out more about eating disorders, visit our Forward Thinking Birmingham website, where you can also find advice and resources.
If you need support, you can call Beats Eating Disorder Charity on 0808 801 0677, which is open 365 days a year from midday–midnight during the week, and 4pm–midnight on weekends and bank holidays.