While the doctor’s advice to do things that are kind to myself is good advice and well-meant, it comes at a price. Just as I would see L’s being kind to herself as eating a large meal or indulging in a favourite dessert, even though it would result in a backlash of the anorexic voice, so too is there a backlash from Getting Out Of The House. And this is Getting Out of The House on a grand scale. I know the advice is intended to remind me to challenge myself and that my doctor knows of my tendency not to leave the house when things are tough,
You see all my instincts are to remain indoors, in familiar surroundings. And if those surroundings are clean (=calm) and tidy (=ordered) then everything will be fine. I have well worn routes and places that I go: work, generally ok, the shops, supposed to be a treat, but a risk of spending money on clothes which I deceive myself will make me feel better. Going to a different city is a massive step. I am genuinely excited to see people I like and whose company I enjoy. But the next day, in the middle of the night, before the sun has risen, comes the backlash. I drank too much, spoke too loudly, was over-familiar, argued with people, made the wrong jokes, wore the wrong clothes – a cacophony of Bad, Bad, Bad that I can’t drown out. I know that my current medication levels mean alcohol has an increased effect, but always seem to remember this too late. When I arrive home, I resolve not to leave again. But is it safety or fear that keeps me here? L is coming home for a few hours today. She has been in the unit for twenty four days and she has only stepped outside the door three times, all in the last week. To me, that feels like institutionalisation but perhaps it is safety. In staying there, she has to do one thing only: get better. Eat, Sleep, Rest.
So for the week ahead, I will be kind to myself in avoiding any greater challenge than reading a book. Over the last year, reading has become impossible as all my concentration has been used to do the things I need to do – work, look after L and K, help J adjust to college life – and nothing has been left for the things I want to do. Today, I will read Tracey Thorn’s autobiography. I will tidy the dusty bookshelves where my books have stayed unread, waiting for a better time. It may not be brave, but it is kind and it will feel safe. When L gets home, I will suggest she spends her precious time at home by doing as little as possible. Perhaps we will watch a film or read together, on the sofa, with perhaps a fire for warmth. Simple, safe and soothing.