Writing about the past used to be easy, back when I could distance myself. It was simple; pretend it never happened to me and look at the situation as though it’s a movie. I’m not the star, and the story is not about me. Easy. Over the past three or four years, it’s become more difficult to put the past into words; I’ve become more aware, more accepting of the things which have happened and I’ve come to realise that hiding the past in stories and pretending it’s all a twisted fairytale achieves nothing. In fact, it was the worst thing I could have done. Although the stories were true, I somehow stopped myself from believing in them until they became something beyond truth. Until they became a past I had never experienced, but watched from the outside.
I want to tell my story. Not from a misplaced belief that my experiences are somehow different, special or worthy of being read, but because I need to understand the tale for myself. I need to move on, to put the past behind me and accept all that has happened.
I’m not a great writer, nor a storyteller. Life has not always been kind, but neither has it been totally unkind. Some experiences, though, have stuck with me and have refused to budge. This is one of them.
Trust has always been difficult for me. From an early age, I struggled with the concept of trusting somebody, and until recently that hasn’t changed. The largest trust issue I have ever dealt with (with the exception of being sent to a special needs college, which I’ll go into in the future) is when my psychiatrist and my mother decided that I needed to be sent somewhere safe. Away from others, away from the ability to harm or starve myself, and under the constantly watchful eye of professionals. And so, at the age of fourteen, I was sent to a children’s mental health unit (which I will called PL).
Sectioning me was an option, although I chose to go in voluntarily as I didn’t want my future ruined by a big black mark on my record. Back then, the future was still hopeful.
The logical conclusion I came to was that my family hated me, that I’d let them down in some way and that I was to be punished for being crazy. I fought every step of that journey; I screamed, I cried, I begged, I promised to be a better daughter, a better sister. The idea of being locked away without my belongings, without coping methods… it was terrifying. How would I relieve the pressure if I couldn’t cut myself? What if they forced me to eat? What if they discovered what I fervently believed; that I was seriously ill and a danger to everyone around me?
I entered PL weighing exactly seven stones. 98lbs.
My arms and legs were covered in scars, cuts and fresh burns. They documented each and every one.
I was to be under constant observation, with the aim of diagnosing me with schizophrenia.
I was to be given three meals a day, without exception.
My suitcase was searched for sharp objects, laxatives, drugs.
I would see my family once a week.
I was to take anti-psychotic medication every day.
I was fourteen.
I can barely remember that year. The memories I lost never came back.