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…
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 a lot more complicated than that.
I have a plethora of both physical and mental health conditions, some of which I have been struggling with for almost six years to date. PTSD with depression and anxiety, a dissociative disorder, digestive problems, and I’ve more or less destroyed my body through struggling with an eating disorder since I was 14. I faint constantly due to problems with my blood pressure and my heart, and I was told by the doctor that if I don’t start to build muscle and do some physical exercise to improve the situation, this might not get better.
In this last year alone, I’ve tried to commit suicide multiple times. I was admitted to a psychiatric day hospital for a month to be stabilised so that I could get back to at least functioning somewhat again and being able to attend university. Every day is still a struggle with flashbacks, chronic insomnia, suicidal ideation and either the desire to either starve myself until I no longer exist or the overwhelming impulse to binge and purge. When I have a particularly stressful period, I end up places with no recollection of how I got there and I forget chunks of time. I have to live my life on a schedule or else I don’t stand a chance of staying on top of things, and I am often too scared to leave the house or socialise unless I’m somewhat intoxicated.
At the end of the day, my trauma cannot be reversed and perhaps some of my conditions can’t, but I’m tired of being a violinist who isn’t physically fit enough to perform, I’m tired of being scared and I’m tired of living so stuck and alone and miserable. I am not what happened to me, and I can and will take as much control back over my own life as possible.
By taking up snowboarding and throwing myself into a fitness and diet regime to gain muscle rather than lose weight, I’m hoping that I will slowly but surely take control of my physical health again so that I’m able to continue at university, and also that this will encourage me to beat my eating disorder once and for all. I know that being seriously underweight would put me at a higher risk of injury – I have a friend who broke her ribs due to jumping into her boyfriend’s arms while severely underweight – and I know that not eating and letting myself develop nutritional deficiencies again would mean more fainting. I’m hoping that enjoyment and desire to become at least of a basic skill level will encourage me to continue to fight and improve not only my physical health but also my overall happiness, because God knows I simply can’t live like this anymore.