Mental bandwidth

I haven’t blogged much recently. To be honest, things have felt too hard and there is only so much misery I can pour out here without people worrying about me and then I worry about people worrying and then, oh you know the rest.

J’s student loan continues to be elusive. A glimpse into the labyrinthine world of loan administration makes me wonder how much it costs to save money. A small amendment sent in will take a month to process. I call up to check on progress and find overnight the application has been placed on hold because it was not signed. I know it was. A check reveals indeed it was. Time to remove it from hold? 10 days. Errors are made in seconds, solutions take forever.

L continues to seem happy but doesn’t eat enough. Her interpretation of our last therapy session is that she has to take more control. She makes 2500 calorie meal plans. My attempts to explain these aren’t enough are futile. I am too tired to argue. She is in love with The Boyfriend and still chats away on Twitter and Instagram about recovery and meal plans. But recovery will be when her Instagram lens widens to a bigger picture of life, not measured in plates, but in good times and fun. Although one photo, hopefully attached here is an exception

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As ever I am tired and tired of being tired. I need to do more to catch up and seem able to do less. Yesterday I attend a Fairness Commission meeting, set up to consider how inequality impacts on the people of a city and how that can be addressed. I am really interested in this work and was delighted to be asked to be a Commissioner, but often feel frazzled on arrival and impatient at lengthy discussion. We discuss the outcomes of a Listening campaign, designed to encourage people to tell us what is fair or unfair. This covers health inequalities, the cost of living, education and housing and we consider how much we can effect change. One commissioner states that the problem is apathy in communities and how if people had a little bit more get up and go, they could solve most of themselves.

Patiently, but firmly one of our expert witnesses explains to him and others the huge emotional effort in managing a life of poverty, where finding the energy to subsist in an environment of despair is a daily marathon. That poor education, diet and housing collude to throw endless barriers and hurdles to step over and navigate and that people often simply lack the mental bandwidth to leap up and change their communities for the better, especially when any attempts to do so involve battles with bureaucracy and cynicism. This is such a striking phrase and I think of my daily call to Student Finance, the deep breaths required to select each option, give my date of birth and password, just to get one person the chance to borrow some money. Similar to the tearful calls to health and social services to beg them to speak to each other about J’s autism or the warrior mentality to secure treatment for L, which turned out to be available and good. When your child is ill, when you are depressed and anxious, our mental bandwidth compresses at a time it needs to expand. Our instincts are to tortilla wrap ourselves and our loved ones in blankets but our situation requires us to reach out, to persist, to demand and to face resistance and failure down until we win. No wonder so many of us give up.

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2 responses to “Mental bandwidth

  1. I’m not a parent of a child with anorexia myself (nor am I you as an individual human being), so I can only imagine what your daily reality is like. However, I can relate to much of what you say. I’ve been living with AN (b/p subtype) for 15 years, and I know what it’s like to feel the need to protect others from worrying about me, and myself from the anguish that their worrying causes me.

    Thank-you for sharing your colleague’s thoughts that ” finding the energy to subsist in an environment of despair is a daily marathon” — it helped me to put my situation in perspective a little bit. In my attempts maintain my composure in order to protect others, and to feel some level of dignity when interacting with them, I’ve become almost completely immune to my own pain and disinterested in my constant suffering. And although my slow motion death march horrifies me, I’ve been afraid that if I stopped for long enough to feel my despair, I wouldn’t be able to get up again.

    You are so wise to say that “Our instincts are to tortilla wrap ourselves and our loved ones in blankets but our situation requires us to reach out, to persist, to demand and to face resistance and failure down until we win.” I’ve reached a point where I’m so ashamed of what I’ve become through my many years of an ED, and feel so much grief, especially because I’ve failed to overcome it in spite of my strong desire to do so during the fast 5 years, that my feelings have escalated beyond my level of immunity to them, and feel humbled (and humiliated beyond measure, having collapsed recently in public due to my AN, literally and metaphorically) enough to seek help in spite of my pride and need to protect others, and (very happily) I might for the first time in over a decade might be receptive to help, and hope to get treatment and support.

    I hope that you are able to keep reminding yourself of your own words of wisdom, and to listen to yourself, be listened to by others, and get the support that you very much need. It must be so frustrating and scary to witness your daughter’s struggles, along with the other challenges that you face. But if it’s any comfort to you, from what you describe, it sounds like your daughter is vastly further along towards reclaiming her life from AN than I was at her age as I’d completely given up on keeping any food down at all at that point, so even making a meal plan of a few hundred cals (let alone a couple thousand) would have been remarkable progress for me (and to be honest, would be now), and l lost the desire to have a close relationship many years ago. Sorry if I sound bleak, but my point is that I still have hope for myself in spite of how entrenched I am, and even more so for your daughter, as I think she’s likely to overcome her ED long before she reaches the stage I’m at now!

    I wish all the best for you and your family. I’m sorry that you struggle and suffer as much as you do. I’ve read many excerpts of your blog, and your love, intelligence, and fortitude are so evident to me, and I hope you are able to recognize these powerfully rich resources you contain within yourself, and give so abundantly to your family.

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