About a year and a half ago I was preparing to come back to my blog after a difficult few months of trying to balance my health and university studies. It took so much of my energy to do the bare minimum back then that…
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.
This is not a post I wanted to be writing, but last week on Thursday something happened to me that has brought everything back. Something that has made me, I suppose, unpredictable and overly emotional for the last few days. Something that I need to…
On Tuesday I walked 20km with no fainting, kept myself adequately fuelled, hydrated and fully enjoyed my time in the sun. This is a pretty big achievement when you consider that not so long ago, back when my health was so terrible that simply walking could be at times…
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 and help myself.
Following my recent return to crisis state but newfound drive to try even harder to get as near to well as I can, I’ve tried to look at these most recent events to see if there were any similarities in my behaviour so that in future I might be able to spot the descent myself, or at least so that other people can advise me to get help if they spot them and I don’t.
I want to share my list here so that not only does it keep me accountable, but perhaps if anybody reading this is in a similar position to where I was before, you might be able to draw parallels to your own life and it might help you to work out what your own indicators are. Of course though, this is very much dependent on what your conditions are.
For me, my list goes almost in order:
- I start to stay longer in bed and ignore my schedule.
- I stop allowing even my closest friends to touch me.
- I stop cleaning.
- My washing piles up.
- Eating patterns become erratic. (Don’t eat for a week, eat everything twice the next.)
- Significant weight loss or gain.
- Making no effort with my physical appearance. (Not washing my face, not even dry shampooing my hair, wearing mismatched clothes)
- Physical health deterioration.
- Avoiding contact with friends.
- Avoiding/cancelling necessary appointments.
- Not attending classes.
- Irrational thinking (that I don’t believe to be irrational until afterwards).
- Only leaving the flat for alcohol. (People seeing me drunk more often outside of a standard social setting should definitely ring alarm bells)
- Becoming more flirtatious with the few people I do make contact with.
- Not making contact to excuse my absences.
There are other things that I have probably missed, but these are the biggest indicators that spring to mind that aren’t necessarily the most obvious to begin with. At some point I may well go into more detail about my thoughts on why I think these things happen, but right now I don’t want to distract from the purpose of what I’m saying.
Today I’m making a promise to myself that if I even start to see one of these signs re-emerging I’m going to reach out to somebody, and while I don’t expect to never end up in crisis ever again just by trying to keep track of these things (often crisis can be sudden), I’m sure hoping that it might make it a lot less likely.
If you are in a similar position as me, I invite you to join me and make your own list, and if you ever feel yourself slipping downhill at all please seek some kind of support even if you don’t feel like it’s a full blown problem yet, because it can become too late very, very quickly, and you are never “not sick enough” to ask for help.
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 imagine that sometime after the 24th May I will follow this post up with a “How I Really Should Have Prepared for My Snowboarding Lessons” type of entry, detailing all the things that I missed out or how I should better have focused my energy,…
In order to make the best use of the long summer I have coming up, I need to decide on exactly what I want to achieve in my time off and how I’m going to get there. I know in myself that an empty and lonely summer is not going to be good for my mental health, and that the best way to keep myself positive is to keep myself busy.
The obvious thing from this blog is that I will be snowboarding, however there will be a lot of time when I’m not and during this time I need to be creating, learning, getting healthy and generally staying occupied. So, after much thought I have decided on my goals in multiple different areas of my life, and I’m hoping that I will be able to somehow pin these in the sidebar so that as my summer journey progresses you will be able to watch me cross them off.
So, without further ado, here are my goals and tasks for over the summer:
HEALTH AND FITNESS
- Complete beginners snowboarding course
- Complete Couch to 5k programme
- Regain ability to do the splits
- Read one book related to classical music
- Read eight books related to classical music
- Complete half of the Duolingo Spanish course.
- Learn Dorian scales (2 octaves)
- Learn Phrygian scales (2 octaves)
- Learn Lydian scales (2 octaves)
- Organise college work from the last year into folders and prepare for the next year.
- Release two EPs
- Do a live performance
- Do four live performances
- Set up website and resume activity on main blog
- One music video uploaded
- Four music videos uploaded
- Have promotional photos taken
- Have business cards made
- Complete project for the Amy Johnson Festival
- Release a poetry zine
Perhaps this seems like an awful lot of things to do in 12 weeks, but I don’t think it will be impossible.
As far as getting my health back under control, I am leaving that for another post on another day – the post where I will also explain how I will be beginning to prepare for my snowboarding lessons.