Anniversaries are always a bit of a weird one. It’s been two years since I was admitted to hospital. Two years since I met some of my best friends and grew a second family. Two years ago I was spiralling so quickly into an illness that makes it hard to let anyone in, thinking that I wasn’t sick enough for treatment. Looking back I can now see that I was really very unwell. It was never an easy path to take. Being admitted to a hospital 3 hours away from home so close to christmas, but everyone knew it was the last option we really had. It was that or I would die. I find it so scary that a mental illness is so strong that it can make you think that you aren’t ill at all. Two years on from the beginning of my admission I am still close friends with many of the other patients who I met there. I have an even closer relationship with my family than before and my general outlook on the world has changed. I find it difficult to have gone through an experience that not many other people have been through. But as time goes on I know that difference isn’t bad. The memories from that ward will stay with me forever. The good the bad and the ugly. They have been the product of many a good story! But mainly I’m just happy that I’m still here.
Quick appreciation post for my nearest and dearest! I am incredibly fortunate to have a family who have been so supportive throughout all the struggles we have faced. This post is specically for my big brother and Mum. Thank you both for the hours of holding my hand and assurance that it is going to be okay. Not leaving when the hardest battles have had to be faced. All of the hours of driving you have done for me. Thank you for being the people who have been there for me on the darkest nights and also being the first people I run to when the sun starts to appear again. As we frequently say in our little unit, there are no other two people I would rather be stuck in a lift with.
I have been struggling a lot at the moment. It’s really hard to find the light when it all seems very dark but I have met some people in the recent months that have really gone the extra mile to help me. I recently found myself in a bit of a sticky situation where my brother ended up having to call me an ambulance. One of the paramedics that came was particularly lovely, she helped me to follow the emergency treatment that I needed to have. She spoke to me about my blog and writing to distract me from the whole situation. We spoke about writing quite a lot and I gave her the name of my blog so that she could look it up on her break. As I was waiting in A&E a notification came up on my phone of a new follower and new likes on my blog. You guessed it, it was the lovely paramedic who also has her own blog! After silly amounts of blood tests and junior doctors failing with canulas. She came into A&E with another patient but briefly sat next to me to say that she has been reading and enjoying my blog and can’t wait for my next post, so thank you lovely paramedic for going that extra mile to make that shitty situation so much better.
It is coming up to a year since I was discharged from a 9 month long inpatient admission in a adolescent psychiatric unit. It has been a very interesting year. Somethings were more challenging than I had thought they would be other things were a lot easier than I thought they were going to be, but over all life out of hospital is not what I expected it to be. Its been interesting to see that all of my hospital friends have followed different paths since we all left the same ward. Some have gone back into CAMHS wards others have turned 18 in the past year and have been admitted to adult psychiatric units. Some of us have gone back to school and gotten part time jobs. Some people have really distanced themselves from everything to do with their time in hospital. Everything that everyone has done is understandable and has its own merits but it is interesting how we have all done such different things in the past 12 months. For me, the past year has been about finding my feet at home and working with my mental health team to get the right balance of support while also maintaining a social life. The friends I have made in hospital are a huge part of my life still, we are a cheer squad for each other through the tough times and we are there to enjoy the happy times too- because we all know how hard we have each worked for those smiles. I’m incredibly aware of the fact that some jokes I made in hospital are not funny to people from the ‘outside world’ (keeping hospital friends close for these moments is crucial.) I also have come to realise some of the stories I hold from hospital are unique and hysterically funny to people who I have re-told them too. I’ve learnt that a year on from discharge I still am in awe of the staff I met on the ward and miss them everyday. I have also learnt that it isn’t a bad thing to miss people and I don’t have to beat myself up over feeling this way it’s a natural human emotion after-all. The past 12 months have made my relationships with my family grow even stronger and made every happy moment (however small) that we share together even sweeter. With my loved ones help I have been learning more than ever to find things that I truly love and grab onto them with both hands because if I’ve learnt anything in the past year its that those are the things that life is all about.
Triggers. They come with the territory of mental health issues. Eating disorders being no exception. There are so many things that will get my eating disorders voice screaming, some of these things happen daily and cannot be avoided as they are a part of life. Others can be avoided as the harm has generally out weighed the activity itself. My family are extremely supportive of me in my recovery and help me to avoid situations that are going to push my brain too far into chaos. So when the opportunity to go to the climbing wall with my Dad came up there were some concerns with how my body image was going to stay afloat whilst I was there surrounded by super ‘skinny’ people. It was nerve racking to know that the other people there were going to most probably have a small frame and be body conscious. The evening went really well and the situation was a little bit challenging at the start but by the end of the night I felt more motivated to become healthy than I have felt in a really long time. Seeing all of these fit people, pushing their bodies was really inspiring. If the topic of food came up, they would be discussing high carb diets to give their bodies the fuel they need so they can push them further. Making sure they have enough protein for the muscles to re-build stronger and stronger. Yes all of these people are very aware of their bodies-just like I am hyper aware of mine. But the shift in attitude was so refreshing to hear them talk about making themselves stronger, building themselves up and pushing themselves further with the help of food was really inspiring and motivating for me. A disordered brain fools you into thinking you are making yourself stronger by not eating and using behaviours when in reality you are only becoming weaker. It was really lovely to see a black and white reality of what a healthy body is and what your body is capable of when you look after it in the way it deserves.
There are many, many items that came in with me on the day of my admission. A lot of these didn’t make it through the 9 months, for various reasons. Most of which are through self harm incidents but that isn’t what I am going to be commemorating in this post, this is a tribute to some of the items lost in other ways. I hope they rest in peace somewhere in the vortex that is the staff office, or now at home with the wrong patient.
- Patients would have things we could use in communal areas or under supervision. Once you gave these items back into the office it was a slight raffle as to if you would be seeing them again.. *prays staff member will put item back into the correct named box with other belongings*
- My converses (still internally crying about this one)
- countless items of clothing- lost in the great room stripping of 2014
- Headphones, so many pairs of headphones.
- My winter coat
- Toothbrushes, soaps and deodorant…- These ones are pretty essential to daily life so they were replaced pretty fast, even if I did go through the same cycle multiple times.
- The books that were borrowed but never returned (I’m talking to you, night staff)
All of these material objects are small fry when it comes to the reality of life and death. Thankfully I gained so much more from my admission than I could have ever lost.
There are a lot of pretty and positive posts that circulate tumblr and instagram which are sometimes not really accurate or fully resemble what it is like to be in recovery from a mental illness. Don’t get me wrong I love these posts, a large portion of my bedroom is covered in quotes and brightly coloured motivational messages. But I thought it would be interesting to share a photo of me after a very difficult evening but managing to keep myself safe and coping without using any negative behaviours at all. This is a recovery moment that I am proud of. It is rough around the edges and very real, it is me with bloodshot and puffy eyes. It can’t be seen through rose coloured glasses and this is good in its own way since I know a lot of other people have had nights like this. Nights that we find ourselves picking up the broken pieces, from a situation that can be hard to explain to those around us in the best of times let alone when distressed. A lot of the times it is easier to explain these kind of nights and find a sense of belonging with others who have been struggling with similar things by sharing a motivational message or quote. I am proud of myself for managing a rough night in the messy, teary and real way that worked for me in that moment. I’m going to continue to keep on keeping on, just watch me fall down seven times and stand up eight because I know that the people who mind don’t matter and the people who matter don’t mind.