IN REARVIEW // August-October

August was a month I'd rather forget - yet another one lost to the walls of a hospital. It was a month of darkness - stifled and suffocated - my brain thick with fog. Caught in a trap, I was caged like an animal - feral and dangerous - held captive by both the thoughts in my mind and the professionals intent on 'helping'. Their 'help' is a painful hindrance - their intentions are good but the process all wrong. They take me to a tribunal. I sit and listen to four different professionals, in turn, listing off my failings and flaws and watch as they are granted another CTO - the hospital given power over me for six more months. It is a heavy blow, swiftly followed by punch upon punch. They change my diagnosis - punch! It can't be helped, but my key worker, service manager and O.T. all leave their positions at once - punch! They make me change doctors too, just for good measure - punch! I am unsettled by the instability - so many new things simply overwhelming when the everyday already feels too hard. I am battered and beaten; running on empty; barely fumbling my way through the dark. In the midst of this, they decide to uncage and send me home. This is positive - I should be relieved; excited - but the hospital made me domesticated and I've forgotten how to survive in the wild alone. Everything is scary. Everything is LOUD. I come home to the same nightmare that led to admission and am reminded there is nothing anyone can do to help. I struggle, badly; make a perilous mess. I don't know how to cope without making things worse.

When September starts, I go and stay with my mum. I feel like a child: unable to keep myself safe;  constantly in need of babysitting. I am a child well loved - lucky to have a family who sit with me in the storm - but I feel like a burden; I hate myself for worrying everyone. The first part of the month is hard. There is nothing for it but to put my head down and try to cling on. I spend a lot of time curled up on sofas, unable to face anyone; a lot of time uncertain I have it in me to carry on. But cocooned in the love of my family, I do go on. Together we weather the storm.

By the middle of September - with a new medication finally flowing through my veins - it seems as if the storm begins to break. Slowly at first - gradually - the clouds lift and I begin to find a bit of breathing space.  It is the little things I notice initially: how my sleeping pattern begins to regulate; how there are lengthening periods in which I can concentrate; how there is less and less desire to completely self-isolate. For the first time in longer than I care to remember, the self-destructive thoughts become a dull whisper - no longer all-consuming. It's like casting off a heavy load and suddenly finding you can stand up straight again. I stretch out and walk forward tentatively - slow but steady - balancing on new-found props named 'motivation' and 'energy'.

I am cautious at first - scared to push too hard or too fast. I tread gently, fearful that this feeling won't last; too afraid to trust that the earth won't give way again. I take small steps to start with - reconnecting with friends; venturing out to coffee shops; rediscovering the delight of running and swimming!

By the time October arrives, there is no sign of the earth below me crumbling. Things are not perfect - there are good days and more difficult ones - but, for the first time in forever, I feel like I'm standing on a firm foundation. My mood no longer lives permanently at rock bottom. Standing on a more solid surface - my feet firmly planted on even ground - I am better placed to do battle: to fend off the bad days when they put in an appearance. Their blows are no longer devastating. I am stronger now and, eventually, I allow myself to believe it.

I push a little harder as the month goes on - breaking through the confines of my comfort zone - and it seems to pay off. I join a weekly group in the hospital's psychology department, relearning skills and creating some space for reflection. I run further and faster, relishing the sense of accomplishment as much as the endorphin buzz. I begin volunteering in a local cafe - just a couple of hours a week - and am pleasantly surprised by the feeling of doing something productive; of actually contributing. I take risks in reaching out to old friends - in being the one to do the inviting for once - and they consistently, happily show up. I sign up to a beginners' Spanish class and - conquering the intense anxiety that tries to prevent it - go along and find that it's brilliant fun. I push myself into scary social situations - new places and new faces - and learn that I can sit with the anxiety and that strangers don't meet me and run!  I attend the Spirit of North Hop in the company of strangers; finish the evening in a loud and busy bar; get hot and squashed in a packed-out venue for Newton Faulkner; and it surprises me, but I love every one! A weekend that once would have left me broken and exhausted turns out to be a high point - the ideal way to close October and the perfect illustration of how far I've come!

Torry battery beach Aberdeen - Aug 2017
Coffee - Foodstory Aberdeen - Aug 2017


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  1. I love the way you write! Happy to hear youre doing so much better! Xx Eni

  2. So much hope and joy in this post. Here's to a November full of the best kind of adventures.

    Lis / last year's girl x