It’s been a pretty harrowing few months. But somehow, things start to get better. Progress is slow and what you can’t see on a day to day basis becomes clearer over a longer period of time. A few weeks ago I thought I would never feel well again. It was as if my brain was broken. But unwell and well are not binary concepts. And so, little by little, I realise that I am getting well again. Mornings see a lightening of the Invisible Rock Of Despair. I want to get up, washed and dressed. Tasks that seemed impossible, become manageable. It starts with little things: Make phone call to bank. Place old bed on eBay. When you are ill with depression you want life to stop and sometimes even to go away. What helps is a routine, setting small targets, meeting them and increasing them. There is a whole market out there for an app to help people like me. A Couch to 5k equivalent. Sofa to Street, I’d call it. Week 1: Get Up by 10. Complete a Task. Wash. Get Dressed. In any order. Week 2: Repeat Week 1, include one outing for at least 30 minutes. This would lead to a week of 4-6 hours of activity daily, building up, little by little. This is where I am now. I read whole books. I listen to the news and think about it. I write. I do practical things that seem impossible, like paint a room or put up a shelf.
And L moves forward too. She slowly gains weight. She comes home and eats, not here, but at her dad’s, at The Boyfriend’s and out with friends. I remember that I need to stop seeing every difficulty as a catastrophe and to be the Grown Up. I feel secure in our bond and stop needing it to be validated by time spent together. I remember that as well as being an anorexic, she is a teenager, with a boyfriend, a life and an attitude. Tonight she came home for about 30 minutes to get ready to go to Nando’s with friends. She falters after a rough day with lots of challenges. She says she can’t go out. I hug her and tell her to keep going. I advise a dress and not jeans. She agrees. I sit on my bed while she raids my make up. I lend her eyebrow pencils and hair spray. This is fine, we are back to where we once were. Or possibly even forward to where we need to be. That is what our journey is like. Both of us are going forward to an unknown state of mind. Recovered is different from never having been ill in the first place. But what we need is perspective and the ability to look back to see how far we have cone and look forward and keep on going.