Poor L. She is working so hard. Recovery is relentless. Exhausting. Incessant. And seemingly futile. If she was training to run, after four or five months she would see real progress in her fitness, her strength and her enjoyment of running. But five months into formal treatment, eight months after diagnosis, she feels as if nothing has changed. Sure, she is no longer skeletal. But her anorexic voice is still strong, so to her this just means she is bigger. Fatter. More of her to hate. We watched a video of her playing table tennis today. I asked her when it was taken and it was only last week – but she looked so thin. As a result, she doesn’t have any sense of achievement of the work she has done and the progress made. She feels low, hopeless and defeated. But she doesn’t say any of this. She tells us she’s fine, but her bent shoulders, her weariness gives it away.
I wish I could get her to talk to me. I try to get her to talk, but I wonder if that just makes it worse. I do stupid things to make her laugh, which she does, possibly at my idiocy. Most of the time I just hold her. We are on a journey of indeterminate length. We have no idea if we are just at the beginning or halfway. From the outside I can see how much she is learning and the strength she will draw from this. She has shared this journey with others, she has an understanding beyond her years of the dark times caused by mental illness. I hope she sees how much she means to others, of different ages, with different experiences. But these are all mitigation of the unhappiness, not a solution.
Because all I really want her to be is happy. That simple word we use, and don’t really understand what it means until it is unattainable. I know that one day she will be, but it feels impossible to show her the steps she is taking are a direct route to a better place. Because I think she feels as if it is a treadmill, round and round, day in day out, into a misty distance with no sign of the end. I wish I could run on ahead and yell back to her that she is nearly there, that the sun is about to come out. But I can’t because I don’t know how far away the end is. The most I can do is hold her hand and trudge alongside her. My lovely L.