Thursday, August 29, 2013

And the leaves that are green...

I put a link to a post from May last year on Twitter yesterday and now feel embarrassed that the latest entry is 3 months old.
Sending that link reminded me that I needed to reply to an email from Beat. Their media volunteer co-ordinator had emailed me after I filled in the survey about disparities in care while at university. She asked for a paragraph to describe my experiences. Even when I tried to split it into two single paragraphs (each relating to one of the two occasions when I was referred from BSHMFT to CPFT), my response was a "loose, baggy monster" of an email.
But I don't know that I could condense any further since both of those periods under the "care" of CPFT were loose, baggy monsters of failures.
I don't think I've talked much on here about the first referral, back when I went up for undergrad in 2001. At that time, there wasn't an adult eating disorder service in Cambridge. So I went to the "low weight clinic" of a consultant who specialised in personality disorders, Dr Jonathan Dowson. His advice to me during the 18 months I spent on his service included buying full fat milk so I'd put weight on ("if there's no room in the shared college fridge, put it on your windowsill overnight or buy a new one each day"). He also wondered aloud why I couldn't just get better because "you're an intelligent girl".
By the end of 2002, I knew I needed better help than this and managed to get re-referred to Birmingham. On that occasion, flexibility meant that I didn't have to give up university: the Cambridge GP, Birmingham GP and BSMHFT came up with a compromise whereby I could be a long-term "temporary resident" at the Cambridge GP, maintaining my registration in Bham... and therefore my eligibility to be seen by the ED team up here. In a pre-echo of the events of 2010, this arrangement turned out to be crucial because when I finished my Part I exams in June 2003, I was very unwell. It was lucky that everything was in place for me to be seen immediately when I returned home because I needed to go into hospital.
I've no idea what would have happened if I'd still been reliant on the "low weight clinic" at Addenbrookes. Maybe advice to add cream to my full-fat milk?!

Talking about the past is incredibly easy in comparison to talking about the present. The title I chose for this post immediately came into my head and it's not hard to analyse why. It's the end of August, the holidays are ending and, as Simon and Garfunkel sing, "the leaves that are green turn to brown". But I suppose it's also symbolic of my emotions at the moment.
I have had a pretty rough few months with my physical health. No one can say definitively how much it is related to my ED.
Yet sitting here, exhausted after coughing all night, with no voice to speak (let alone to sing), I'm caught in a disparity between believing that this is a time for newness (a new term for ballet! could I find a job or a new evening class? should I plan to move out? what part should I audition for in the new show?) and feeling that my body will not let me do any of that.
I am aware of the paradox: the desire to punish my body for failing me will only make it fail me more. And I am also aware that my "insight", much praised by doctors and other MH professionals over the years, doesn't always translate into the necessary action.

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