Have I gone full circle?

I have failed again. I had a chance to piece things back together and I’ve let everything unravel instead. I’ve failed at recovery. I’ve failed at therapy. I’ve failed at work. I am a disappointment. I’ve let people who care about me down. I am letting myself down too. Not that I care so much about that, but then I suppose that’s the problem.

This morning I was signed off work again. That hasn’t happened since I had a breakdown over two years ago. Last time was the same; it began with just a few weeks of breathing space to get myself together. That turned into 6 months off and a phased return starting at an hour per day.

Yes, I know this doesn’t have to go that way, but it’s hard to argue that it won’t when this all feels so familiar.

I had to call my boss to tell him I wouldn’t be at work for a while. That was horrible. He’s not a caring person. He is hugely driven and ambitious, and he doesn’t really understand that not everyone feels so passionate about work. He pushes me hard and expects a hell of a lot from me. So I know he will be seriously annoyed that I won’t be there in the coming weeks. He listened to my feeble explanation and said the right things, but I know him well enough to read between the lines for what he really thought.

While knowing that I definitely need some time off, I still feel crap about it. I can rationalise a few days at home; I am not so important that a couple of days would cause a problem for anyone. But I’m the only one who does my job, in a multinational business with several hundred employees and thousands of clients. There are a lot of people who rely on me for certain things, and just won’t get them while I am on leave. I hate feeling like I’m causing a problem for them. And wondering what they’ll say about me.

The other side of it is my sense of embarrassment, and the damage to my pride. When I returned after my leave two years ago; it was so hard to rebuild my professional reputation. Nobody said anything, but I knew they were all wondering whether they could really rely on me. I felt like they were waiting for me to fail, they were all aware that it was likely I’d not be able to handle things like the rest of them. And now I’ve proven them right. My colleagues know why I was on leave the last time around, so they will correctly assume what’s going on now. And if I can ever face going back there, I will have to start this whole process again from the beginning. Right now, I’m not sure I will even be able to walk back through the door if this leave goes on for too long.

This is rambling, I know. I apologise. I just feel very overwhelmed with all of this today. I feel like I’ve been dragged back to square one. And I am shit scared of what it feels like to have to put everything back together again. Not the awful in between bit where you lose the plot, fall into a pit of despair and stop functioning. Not that. The having to figure out how the fuck you did it all in the first place – all over again. That’s what scares me most.

Oh and then there’s the likelihood I’m going to have to get treatment at an eating disorders clinic. As if the work stuff wasn’t enough to get my head around, my GP is also referring me for anorexia treatment. I don’t even know whether I want it. But I’ve been pressured.

J ambushed me with this topic in our session on Thursday. Seeing her on Wednesday had been rough, because I felt like she was trying to justify or excuse the behaviour of my family and worst of all, my brother. She did say things that came across that way. I’d also felt like she was accusing me of causing all these problems for myself, by not communicating more clearly with my family. It was like she had run out of patience to tolerate me being a coward in my relationships with them, and was basically telling me that I’m choosing the situation I am in.

A lot of that came from my irrational, oversensitive parts and I know this. But those feelings were still there. I still felt let down by her and angry with her. I didn’t want to go to my session on Thursday, but I also didn’t want all that stuff hanging over me for the whole weekend. So I forced myself to go and face it, to work it out with her.

What I didn’t expect was for the whole session to be about anorexia and whether I am willing to get treatment or not. J had drafted a letter to my GP and wanted me to read it and give her the green light to send it to him. Everything she wrote was true, and it was hard to see it in black and white like that. It was hard to sit and listen as she told me how sick I am, how weak I am, how I am not strong enough to do therapy, how worried she is about me. I didn’t know how to respond. I wanted the ground to swallow me up.

I felt like I was being given an ultimatum. One that comes from a caring place, but an ultimatum nonetheless. J said she doesn’t know of anyone in private practice who would work with someone who has a BMI as low as I do. She said we can’t do therapeutic work until I am healthier. She told me she respects my choice whether or not to have treatment, and she would help me access that if I decide I want it. But essentially, the message was; ‘we can’t do therapy until you start eating again’.

That means I have the choice of ED treatment, or no treatment. I can’t continue doing the work with her, without getting anorexia treatment. I don’t want that treatment. I don’t want to have to go to an unfamiliar place and talk to people I’ve never met. I can’t make myself feel OK about that, after being let down time and again by healthcare professionals who should’ve helped. And the core issue is, I don’t want to have to start eating again. I’m not ready to make that sort of commitment to myself.

This probably sounds like I am angry with J. And I guess a part of me is. I’m angry she’s making me look realistically at this situation. I am angry she can’t be the one to help me, because I trust her and I don’t want to have to build trust with someone new. I’m upset that she has taken therapy off the table for the time being. I don’t know how I feel about paying to go and just sit with her and talk about unimportant stuff. I want to see her, but I’m not sure I can justify that expense if I’m not working on things.

It just feels a bit like J has got to her wits’ end with me. And I don’t blame her. It must be exhausting being my therapist.

What really didn’t help was that she finished our session yesterday by telling me about how her practice is changing and she’s moving more into supervision. She’s seeing fewer clients, and I’m the only one on a Thursday now. I suppose it wasn’t the best time for me to hear this. My self-hating, cynical interpretation is; ‘she’s sick of working with miserable, demanding people like me, but she’s keeping me on out of some sense of obligation’. I have been trying to reason with myself, but I can’t close down the voice that says she’d probably be relieved if she didn’t have to see me again.

It’s just really hard to get my head around everything that’s going on right now.

 

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8 Comments Add yours

  1. My heart absolutely goes out the you reading this. I can identify with so much of what you say about eating and pressures with work. Let’s be absolutely clear here, you’ve let no one down and you are not to be judged about being very unwell. That’s what this is, it’s illness and as such you are entitled to help, love, and care. I suspect you have incredibly high expectations of yourself and like to be in control. It’s not easy when the ability to cope stops being effective. Not eating is such a hard thing to change. I find it almost addictive and when in the depths of it almost impossible to see that my behaviour is abnormal. I know it might seem as though your T is pushing you for help and it may feel unwelcome and intrusive but she’s doing it from a place of care. Deep down I’m sure you know that, but your sensitive, secretive, stay away parts don’t want this seen. I really hope that you can start to feel better soon. Taking the pressure off at work is a good idea so long as you stop beating yourself up about not being there. Your health and wellbeing are the most important things here. Nothing else matters. Take care.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Laura says:

      Thank you. I’m sorry to hear that this resonates with you, but thank you for sharing your understanding. I’m feeling a bit more OK with time off work now that I’ve been away for a week and the world hasn’t ended!

      Like

      1. So glad you are feeling a little better. Yes, it’s funny isn’t it? Work makes you feel like you are integral to its running well and so you pressure yourself to be there when sick….amazing how they manage when they have to. Take as long as you need x

        Liked by 1 person

  2. DV says:

    I think your boss and your workplace need to take some responsibility themselves. Seriously – they KNOW you have a condition which could deteriorate and require further time off work at some point, and yet two years down the track from a breakdown that resulted in 6 months off, they have no backup plan and the work you would normally do … will just not get done?? They’re the ones who have dropped the ball here. Don’t take that burden on yourself. xxx

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Laura says:

      Thanks DV. I actually hadn’t thought of it like that, but you are spot on. And it is their fault if there’s no backup plan. I’ve been open with them about my health and they know that things are far from OK, so you’re right, they should’ve had something in place. Unfortunately, because they don’t, it means I’ll face a massive backlog when I go back – which makes me very reluctant already… x

      Like

  3. La Quemada says:

    My situation is different, but I also had an experience last winter in which E said, this is not working, you need something more because our therapy alone isn’t going to take care of it. She was kind about it and said she saw how hard I was trying, but there was still some of the same elements of implied ultimatum (okay, in your case it sounds pretty explicit).

    The thing is, I recognize now she did it with genuine care and concern and drawing on her professional expertise. I am sure that’s the case with J as well. She has enough experience and enough self-awareness to know that she can’t be enough for you right now.

    You are just sick. It’s not shameful; it’s not a failure. It’s a sickness that is worsened by our culture and your workplace and a thousand things about the way we live (I agree with DV that your job bears some responsibility). It’s okay and understandable to be sick, and you can get better. Some of the shit you have to do to get better is not easy or fun, but it’s worth it, Laura. You are worth it. J knows that too, and that’s why she wrote that letter.

    Monday in therapy I was talking with E, and after I listened to her for a while, I said, “we’ve had this conversation before.” She replied, “We have, but you haven’t been in this place before. You are hearing this from a different place.” The same is true of you. There are familiar things about this experience, but this time you understand what lies ahead. You know you can do it. You have some skills already in place. It’s not really full circle–it’s a new place that has some things in common with the old place. And that’s because old wounds are f*cking hard to heal, dear one. It just takes a long time. xxxooo

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Laura says:

      That was a beautifully eloquent response to my post, thank you. I feel as though your work with E and mine with J have a lot in common. That sounds just like something J would say to me. And thanks for thinking I am worth it. I am touched. xxx

      Like

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