WARNING: This post discusses an attempted suicide and eating disorders.
It was strange. The morning after your child attempts suicide, the world should look bleak, grey and hopeless. Instead, as I was looking out the window, the branches of the blue gum trees pierced a technicolour sky. It was surreal. This was our reality now. Anorexia had nearly taken my baby away for good.
Less than 24 hours earlier, I was feeling almost hopeful, because my 16-year-old daughter Chloe – who had been diagnosed with anorexia when she was only 13 years old – had just eaten a whole muffin. She had not been happy about it, but she had eaten it. Eventually. Then she had shut herself in her room and told me to leave her alone.
We were winning, I had told myself. As long as my daughter was getting enough calories to survive, I believed she would not die on us, and I was intent on feeding her.
Listen: Anne Tonner talks to Mia Freedman about watching her daughter struggle from anorexia. Post continues after audio
I was on my way down to the laundry room, when I thought to myself if I should go and check up on her. But then I remembered all the things the different professionals had said; the psychologist told us to give her some space while the dietician advised us to avoid direct confrontation.
I took a step downstairs, but there was something about the silence in the house that drew me back to the landing.
And then I knew. I just knew.
I ran up the stairs to Chloe’s room, my heart pounding as I thumped on her door. I called her name, my voice high and reedy with fear – but there was no answer.
The door was locked, which it never was. I bashed at it with my flat, open palms. Still no answer.
I heaved my shoulder against the door and it finally gave way. That was when I saw her, about to harm herself.
I screamed, my husband rushed into the room and together we got her out of harm’s way.