Do What You Can

“Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.”- Theodore Roosevelt

On a particularly trying day last year, I got a card from my mom in the mail, whose timing with little pieces of uplifting snail mail tends to be spot on. This Roosevelt quote stretched across the front, reminding me that doing my best is enough. When I’m feeling hopeless and like a failure, I think about this quote and try and remind myself that sometimes you can’t take a giant leap, you can only take a little step in the right direction.

I tend to expect everything to fall into place once I’ve set my mind on it. This could be a product of my personal experiences, as in the past I’ve driven myself to achieve that to which I aspire. Once I decide to follow a path, I throw myself into pursuing the steps to reach my goal. It hasn’t always been a beneficial quality, this blind determination, and often leads to my exhaustion, rather than my happiness. There is, in my mind, a problem with having too much drive: once the goal is achieved, it is on to the next thing. What good is it to reach a goal if you don’t even sit back a moment and bask in proud glory?

Expecting the impossible has of late contributed to my feeling down on myself. I keep imagining an epiphany that will lead to my accepting myself for what I am and end my struggles with my eating disorder. I keep searching for reasons why I ended up here, in the hopes that the insight I gain will suddenly cure me, and I will suddenly step out of the vicious cycle. The truth is, I have insight on the situation already. I can look at my history and watch the development of the disease, point to the causes and figure out why I crash landed in the middle of eating disorderland. But despite my knowledge, I cannot seem to create the bridge between insight and action.

Interestingly, upon attending a group session last week, I was introduced to the treatment model used in most Canadian hospitals today. This model involves breaking the diet-exercise-restriction cycle before focusing on the predisposing and precipitating factors of an eating disorder. For in order for an individual to be able to recover from the imbalance created by the eating disorder, the eating and exercise must be normalized, to allow the brain to make the proper connections between thought and behaviour.

It is this reality that makes me realize that I will not suddenly wake up and be free from the grips of my eating disorder. I can take steps in the right direction, and put effort into recovery, but it is not going to be an instantaneous process. As difficult as it is for me, a person who loves instant-gratification, to be patient and accept that recovery is a long road rife with blocks, I have to do so to get past them. Because not accepting this fact could in fact pose a roadblock in itself, by giving me excuses to stop trying if my efforts do not instantly pay off. I have to acknowledge that every small step counts, and that doing what I can, where I am, with what I have is helping me to achieve the ultimate goal: recovery.

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