Monday, 14 November 2011

7 observations of ED recovery - from a partner's perspective

PJ's pretty amazing, don't you think? I do.

But I wasn't so sure about writing something for her blog. It's not really my thing. She asked me to write a top 10 observations of ED recovery from my perspective, to match her recent posts So with a bit of a struggle, I've come up with a top 7. Yes, I can count and I know that 7 is not 10. 7 is not even my favourite number. But it is what it is, a bit like life.

1. Rational/irrational
The rational person will always struggle with the irrational. ED is irrational. PJ's the most rational person I know. Don't confuse the two - but that can be easier said than done some days.

2. It's an illness with a label, but what does it mean?
It follows from the rational bit, but simply labelling ED as ED doesn't really provide a meaningful explanation of some of the stuff we've seen. Labels are really not useful. Not useful in ED, and not really useful in life either - life and ED are more complex than a two letter acronym.
There's some stuff on the web, but PJ's blog is hopefully helping others figure out what it means.

3. Life experiences
I don't quite know when it happened, but I've noticed that I'm not the young buck any more at work. (No snide comments about nose hairs either, thanks!) I've been around a while, and seen a bit. The curmudgeonly old man has come out occasionally recently, and I don't quite remember getting older. And I still don't get Twitter or Facebook.
But life experience is useful, and age has softened my views on plenty of things. PJ and I have been through plenty of highs and lows and everything in-between. We'll get through this challenge too. We're probably just as stubborn as each other and that's a good thing in dealing with ED.

4. The paradox of expectations
For those of you who don't know Seth Godin, you really should follow him. His daily aphorisms are succinct and thought provoking on life, marketing and business. His 30 Oct blog was particularly apt …
"Low expectations are often a self-fulfilling prophecy. We insulate ourselves from failure, don't try as hard, brace for the worst and often get it.
High expectations, on the other hand, will inevitably lead to disappointment. Keep raising what you expect and sooner or later (probably sooner) it's not going to happen. And we know that a good outcome that's less than the great one we hoped for actually feels like failure.
Perhaps it's worth considering no expectations. Intense effort followed by an acceptance of what you get in return. It doesn't make good TV, but it's a discipline that can turn you into a professional."
I think that this can easily translate to tacking ED - it's not going to be a quick fix, but discipline/sticking with it will lead to recovery. Celebrate the good outcomes, and a great one will come along too … in time. Reaching out for help, finding educated/skilled helpers, networking and writing about ED are all good outcomes.

5. Humour
There's nothing funny about ED. Nothing.  
In a self-reflective moment I've been thinking that we're going to need to find more ways to lighten up and laugh a bit. Putting ED aside (if it was only that easy, hey), life's not bad. It's a little like that expectations thing … laugh at the funny bits, be appropriately serious at the serious bits, but seek out more of the funny than the serious.

6. Find what works
 I read somewhere (it's that old age thing again) recently something along the lines of coffee, tea and water will help you work things out; drinking spirits will not. To quote the web forums … YMMV  (I'm old enough to understand forums, as I started out with dial up BBSs - you do know what they are don't you?). 
 And what works today, might not work tomorrow. Adjust. Refine. And adjust again. We won't be fixed into a single course of action. Mix it up.

7. The F-word
No, not that F-word. The other one … feelings. I'm bloody hopeless at talking about them. I'm an Aussie man, with a stiff-upper-lip kind of upbringing and professional training. Talking about feelings might be a sign of weakness that might be exploited - isn't that right? Guys don't really talk about feelings do they? Perhaps we should … perhaps I should. Would it help or would the incompetence from a severe lack of practice get in the way of being constructive for PJ?
Listening to PJ (which I actually do every now and again, but could probably do much, much better), it sounds like we might need to have a F-word conversation. Now that's going to be uncomfortable for me … but this isn't about me, is it.

And there it is. The blog post I really didn't think that I'd ever be able to write. 

Again, I know it's 7 not 10. Who's counting?



HikerRD said...

Let me be the first to commend you on a job well done! (Isn't this rather immediate feedback rather nice?) This was truly a wonderful piece addressing a challenging topic.

The missing 3/10 were actual communicated, while not numbered:
8. Support from your loved ones is critical for recovery. Your writing this piece clearly exemplifies this.
9. Communication and being in the know about your loved one's struggle is the only way through. I do remember when PJ had not yet shared, and it's so great that she did.
10. Allow yourself to be angry at ED, not at your loved one who is struggling and sharing your very frustration with ED.

I know, this is supposed to be YOUR top 10 observations, but you truly shared these points in your post, so I thought I'd give you credit for all 10!

Nice job, Mr. PJ! And good for you, PJ, for prompting this fabulous post.

Mum on the Run said...

I did read it all, I did.
But I'm fixed on 'acceptance'.
The key to every damn thing for me.
Thank you Mr PJ.
You are a gem. A keeper there, PJ!

M said...

This is great and really helpful. Thanks Mr PJ.

Now, where can I find myself a Mr M as good as him?

June Alexander said...

Bravo to you, Mr PJ. I'm honoured to have met your lovely wife through online support. You are a great team, and a team effort is the best tool in tackling the illness called, for want of a better word, 'Ed'.

The Dandelion Girl said...

I really like this. I'm currently in the midst of that weird path between going on dates and dating (where I've had to inform him of the ED...) so I find the male perspective interesting... and the care and compassion refreshing.