Jim and his wife/partner discovered that their 14 year old daughter was self-harming a few months after she was diagnosed with an eating disorder. She is receiving treatment, compulsorily, but the disease is having a huge impact on all their lives.

Jim and his wife discovered that their daughter was self-harming a few months after she was diagnosed with restrictive anorexia nervosa, at the age of 14. His wife read some diary entries which recorded her self-harming and her wish to stop. Her anorexia was initially disclosed to teachers by her friends.

Jim and his wife are distressed by their daughter’s self-harming, which they see as a part of her anorexia. The effects of this disease are having a massive impact on all their lives. Their daughter has had to leave school, and is receiving treatment under Section 3 of the Mental Health Act. Jim or his wife visit her in hospital every day, sharing meals on the ward and sometimes taking home-cooked food as part of the therapeutic programme.

They feel that their GP was slow to consider that anorexia was the cause of their daughter’s weight loss and to institute appropriate referrals for specialist help. They were dissatisfied with her first inpatient treatment but feel that she is now in a unit which is better suited to her needs. They are not confident, though, that there is any really effective, evidence-based treatment available. They get support from: contact with other parents of young people with eating disorders through personal meetings, email, Facebook and internet forums; email exchanges with international experts in the field of eating disorders; and from parent-led organisations such as F. E. A. S. T (Families Empowered and Supporting Treatment of Eating Disorders).

They advise other parents to inform yourself so that you can talk to professionals on their own terms and make intelligent choices about your child’s treatment.’ With regard to self-harm, they suggest that parents try to be matter of fact about it and not make your child feel guilty. They are doing it for a reason. You have to find out why they need the comfort they get from self-harming and tackle the source, rather than blaming them or getting emotional about it. It’s better to be calmer and more matter of fact so that you can be sympathetic and supportive.’

Jim investigated ways of monitoring his daughter’s internet use.

Age at interview 66

Gender Male