Thursday, 26 February 2009

Baby Steps... Oh, Baby- Rip Off The Band-Aid and Start Striding

Tonight was the long-awaited phone call with my therapist in New York. I had emailed him a couple of weeks ago, before I had been offered a place at the supported housing project, to inquire about reapplying to do the dialectical behavioural therapy program I left prematurely in 07. The program is pretty demanding emotionally, and requires a certain level of stability with symptoms- I was starting to spiral downwards and had to leave- the recommendation was that I entered an eating disorder specific residential program, but I didn't have insurance coverage for that so was left with no option but to return to the UK.

I don't know why I have such high hopes for this program, or why I so desperately want to return to New York and complete the 6 months. I think that I am becoming increasingly frustrated with how slow my progress has been and want something more intensive to really propel me forward.

I've written about the difference between the two health care systems before- the high hopes of my team in the US for a full recovery (like ripping off a band-aid) and the s...l...o...w... way of working here. I am under the eating disorders team and I am giving my therapy sessions my all, but I find it really hard to hold onto much hope when the expectations seem so low. I want to be FREE from this completely- to suddenly be "okay" with food, health, life. To have a job, be living independently, to not be controlled by rules and rituals and compulsions. When I was receiving treatment in the US, I was really thrown in at the deep end. Quite a challenge for someone who hasn't been in full-time education since the age of 12 and pretty much grew up in hospital. I suddenly found myself being discharged from inpatient at a healthy weight, working at Starbucks, living by myself and taking college classes. It was weird. In a GOOD way. It gave me a taste of what life COULD be like. But in a lot of ways, it's made things so much harder for me- to have that all, and lose it all.

My team now want me to take this one class for 2 hours a week and not take on anything else (work, study, etc). We set small goals each week around socialising, food, etc. It's working for me- as in, it's sustainable. I'm not rushing into things, taking on too much only to have it crashing down around me. My team seem to have learned from my past history- so why is it so hard for me to do the same?

I guess I am just angry with myself for still being so stuck in this dysfunctional state when I know there is so much more out there, and having tasted it, want it more than ever.

I can't figure out why New York represents "health" so much for me. Or why I cling to the idea that I can only truly recover if I am in America. It doesn't make sense, certainly isn't based on evidence and is only further fueling my frustration. I have been working really hard at just accepting where I am right now- both with my recovery, and the more concrete facts of where I am living, the treatment I have available to me here and what that involves.

It's really hard for me to NOT compare myself to other people. I know I am not alone in my struggles with food and weight, but I feel so inadequate to others who somehow manage to go to school, work, etc. I don't know if I am just lazy? I don't know if I need to just somehow Nike-style "DO IT" or if for me, baby-steps are the only way. I should know by now that for whatever reason, just "doing it" doesn't quite work out. It's just painfully difficult for me to accept that *this* is how things are. Not that I won't keep working towards my goals, I'm just frustrated with how long and drawn out this all seems, and whether I am making things worse for myself. I feel like I can DO all these things- I can work, go to school, eat in a restaurant, deal with whatever stress life throws my way. But only for a very short space of time. Days, weeks, months- it doesn't matter. I just haven't been able to sustain things for any significant period of time without falling to pieces. Again and again.

Anyway... Back on topic. The outcome of the phone call was that the program doesn't think I am stable enough to return at this point for various reasons. This is just bizarre to me because my team here are perfectly happy with how I am doing/the way things are going. I WANT to try things here with moving into my apartment, carrying on with the small goals, and if TIME wasn't an issue, I'd be happy to do this and reapply for the program when I can stand up and say, "that was where I WAS, this is where I AM and I am ready to take it to the next level". BUT, I only have insurance in the US until October so it DOES feel like a "now or never" thing. Because it IS. I know that I am working towards that place where I can proudly say, "this is where I am NOW" but it doesn't feel like progress because I'm not there yet.


dancelikenooneiswatching said...

you WILL get there...Baby steps, gradually is the BEST way as you wont be overwhelmed...thats how i see it for me.
Hope your ok
Lots love xxxxxx

Danielle said...

I think you're going to do awesome moving into the support housing. Baby steps are fine, do what works for you.
Best of Luck to you!

Laura: Learning to Love said...

I don't have time to read your blog but I just wanted to say hello back!! Thank you for commenting, and I'll be sure to check out your blog when I get a chance!!!


spunkystuff said...

oh goodness how well i feel you. every time i've started focusing on "baby steps" -creating challenges, charting victories-I end up basically saying I'm going to compromise with ED. What I've found is that it just doesn't work that way. The truest recovery comes when you just decide you HATE Ed for everything it's done to you and stolen from you and decide to have nothing to do with it.

Of course this doesn't mean going into denial and pretending ED doesn't come atcha...but saying "well it's okay for me to have this as long as I do this" is just playing games and continuing to feed the monster as it parasites on to you.

Focus on the life you want vs. the life you had with ED. THEN make sure every choice and behavior pays the price for and practices YOUR kind of life.
After all, why entertain ED --you HATE that demon!

Anonymous said...

Baby steps are aren't expected to recover overnight. I think any doctor or therapist will say that it takes years to recover. And it seems like baby steps is appropriate for you, as frustrating as it may be. It is so overwheliming to try and do everything at one expects you to be superwoman.
Try and embrace the steps you have made, and then the steps you want to take will come...just allow them. I hope the move goes well!!!
I want to set a pancake date, how about I tell you by the end of this week? Is that okay? Yes, pesto plus pancakes may not be so good...

Anonymous said...

Sorry, I was reading my comment and I forgot the "i" in Ellie.
Have you tried to talk to your team about your frustrations? They may help to give you more insight.

Pammy said...

You will get there, i have faith in you. talk to your team about how you feel. baby steps are okay and probably what is best right now.

Elle said...

In the grand scheme of things, I think that our 'baby steps' are really the hardest steps that we ever have to take (literally and metaphorically speaking), regardless of how small they are. We have to crawl before we run :)

Just keep doing what you're doing, stay strong, and celebrate each goal you reach :)