Sometimes bad things happen. Sometimes your life does not go to plan, sometimes things don’t work out the way you want them to even if you tried hard to make sure they would. Sometimes really terrible, tragic things happen and you have to rebuild, and…
It’s December 2015. I’m lying in bed, alone, clutching my pink koala teddy. I’m wrapped up tight under my duvet. My body is freezing because I haven’t eaten, and truthfully I’ve lost count of the days since I last did.
My calendar still tells me it’s October, there’s a pile of washing stacked high above the basket that’s been there since God-knows-when, and my violin is sitting lonely in the corner of my room because I haven’t left my bed in days. I don’t actually think I’ve moved from this spot since they released me from hospital.
It seems like just yesterday I was arriving back in the UK from Australia, and I swear it was when I was tying up all my loose ends in my hometown and moving here, hoping I would escape everything. I thought that everything would be better when I got away but the reality is, I never got away at all.
I regret that I never got to know my classmates at the beginning of the year. I got very sick, very quickly. But in a way it’s good that I didn’t, because it meant most were never close and never had to watch me through this.
I regret that I haven’t really learnt much in the academic sense this year. Not only because I’m racking up a lot of debt for nothing, but because I’ve a good opportunity to change everything around and for many reasons just haven’t been able to. But I really do want to be my best, you know.
But actually, it’s not December anymore now. It’s almost June and I’ve made it through all of that. I’m getting better.
It’s not been easy but I’ve been trying my best. I’ve been in and out of hospital. I’ve taken steps forwards and steps backwards, and I’m better than I was. I no longer spontaneously try to kill myself, I nourish my body and take my medications to make sure that the remaining medical issues I have are not self-inflicted. I’m trying to keep on top of my appointments, my college work, and I’m really trying to make friends because being alone all the time is hard.
I still can’t eat in front of people, so I can’t come out to dinner with you. I still can’t bear people touching me, so I can’t hug you. I don’t like being in crowds of the opposite sex because it makes me panic, and I’m very likely to suddenly become an acute medical emergency which makes me difficult to hang out with, I know.
I do understand if you think I’m too crazy or too much of a nightmare to bother with, I really do. But, I would very much appreciate it if, maybe, just sometimes, you could stop to say hello.
When I was first admitted to day hospital they asked me if I could identify any signs or behaviours that were an indicator that my mental health was deteriorating, and at the time I couldn’t and didn’t even care enough to want to work it out…
The other day I sat in the office with my support worker discussing the way that my life has been going for the last few months, the things that have affected the direction of my life so far and my plans for the future, and while we…
I would be lying if I said that I’m not seriously struggling right now, and if I said that the level of positivity conveyed through this blog was representative of my current feelings. Truthfully, positivity and motivation is like the sun peeking through the holes in the clouds on a typical British autumn day: rare, but the most beautiful thing when it’s there. That’s not to say I don’t usually want to get well when I’m not actively suicidal, or to say that I don’t want to try to get well even when I am in crisis, but often in those times it comes down to a belief in whether or not I even can.
It is very easy to believe, especially when you have been struggling with the same problems for years or when history keeps repeating itself, that it will never get better. And often, I still don’t think it can for me. I find myself believing that I am too broken, that everything that has happened will never go away from my memories enough for me to succeed at life and that I should give up trying. So to combat this, the other day I made a list of what I decided would be my responses to somebody else if they came to me expressing these feelings, so I can look at them and at least try to believe and keep my motivation to pursue recovery and healing. I’ve decided to share them here on the off-chance that somebody who also needs to read this might stumble across it.
- Even if it doesn’t feel it, the worst really is already over. You are still alive. No matter what happened to you, your body is still here, your mind is still here. You survived. Yes, maybe you suffer terrible flashbacks, insomnia, anxiety or other effects following what happened but the simple fact you made it this far gives you a reason not to give up just now.
- If you were strong enough to survive what happened, you are strong enough to survive therapy and you are strong enough to carve out a life for yourself. See point 1. You survived what happened and you’ve survived since, you’ve already proven your strength. By even entertaining continuing with your life, you are already stronger than so many other people, and so if anybody’s got this, it’s you.
- It is okay to feel like this sometimes. Don’t beat yourself up more for feeling the way you do because you’ll just end up going around in circles and perpetuating your suffering. I do this sometimes just after I come out of believing that my life is completely pointless, cursing myself for wasting my life being so self destructive, and this attitude is certainly not helpful. It’s okay to feel this way. Even people who haven’t experienced trauma or who don’t have any mental health conditions have days where they feel terrible, so you are definitely allowed to have a bad day/week/month/year.
- It doesn’t get better overnight. You won’t just wake up one day and never be troubled again. Recovering your life can be a very slow process, and sometimes it takes multiple professionals, setbacks, and any good periods may be followed by bad periods again, but if you don’t stick it out you’ll never know how much better it can be in the end.
- When you’re finally there, you will be glad you stuck it out. When you finally remember what feeling happy feels like, when you finally have the coping strategies you need in place, when you’re doing things you love, you will be so glad you didn’t give up.
For all reminding myself of these things doesn’t keep me positive all the time, repeating them and trying to have blind faith in them being true even when I’m doubting, when I can feel myself slipping into crisis, has already a few times kept me safe and alive.
If you are reading this and you are doubting your ability to heal, please don’t give up. Talk to somebody, seek help, believe in your own strength no matter how weak you feel. You can do this, and so can I.
So, maybe it’s important that I address the question fully. Why snowboarding? Obviously, I’ve already mentioned my desire to do it for a long time, and I’ve briefly gone into detail about needing to for the physical benefits on my about page, but it’s actually…