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Slight return

I sit. Read the comments on my last few posts. Sit a little longer. Sleep. Play computer games. Sit some more. Smoke.

Honestly? The energy isn’t there; and it frustrates me because there are so many excellent comments which deserve a well thought-out reply. So I sit, and read, and make myself forget because right now I can’t be doing with worrying over yet another thing I can’t cope with.

Food? I’m getting there, slowly. My mother’s noticed my eating habits – she screamed at me over them, in fact – and although it’s utterly terrifying I’m managing to make myself eat. It’s not easy. It’s one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do, because I do need to lose weight - genuinely -  and I’m shit-scared of bloating and the idea of calories sloshing around in my stomach when I’ve come this far. I’ve been told in the past to worry about losing weight sensibly when my ED’s are under control, but what nobody seems to understand is that my ED’s are never under control where weight loss of any kind is concerned.

S is being incredibly supportive, in his own way. I feel safe eating around him, and he doesn’t push me. My mother… she thinks she can shout at me until I eat again.

 

I have an appointment at the biomechanics clinic in the morning. Friday, I’m taking my incredibly phobic mother to the dentist. And some time in the next couple of weeks I’m moving in with S. There’s 27 years of shit to sort through before I can even consider fitting it all in a van. Most has to go to charity. In a way I’m glad; I want shut of this life now. I’ve been stagnating for far too long in a seemingly endless cycle of bad boyfriends and ruined friendships, all while festering in this house and wasting my life away. I want to start again.

 
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Posted by on September 6, 2012 in Every day life

 

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Not that I need proof.

3.30am. We were outside. Me sitting on a slightly damp mesh chair, S standing; smoking and drinking white wine.

S kissed me on the forehead.

Me: “If I had a problem, and felt weird talking to you about that problem, would that be silly?“.

 

So I told him. Confessed I’d lied last weekend about feeling ill, and in fact I was trying my best not to eat. Explained how it’s all about control and, haltingly, listed the reasons why I’m grabbing onto a past ED to cope.

He didn’t ask why.

He didn’t tell me to stop.

And he didn’t get angry.

He just kissed the top of my head and rubbed my shoulder.

“How are we going to fix this?”

 
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Posted by on August 28, 2012 in Every day life

 

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No alarms and no surprises

* Trigger warning: contains talk of calorie amounts and eating disorders. 

I’m not entirely sure what happened this weekend. Something inside me doesn’t want to write about it, but I’m aware that I rarely talk about my weekends; by the time I get home from S’s house I’m exhausted and it sort of slips away until it feels too late to describe the days.

I’m aware that while I’m writing so much, I’m neglecting other blogs, and that makes me feel guilty. It’s very much all about give and take for me, and knowing I’m taking all this support and not giving anything back… it’s uncomfortable for me. I apologise; things have become a little difficult and writing feels like my only outlet.

Food. Food is an issue. Today I ate a whole low fat banana loaf and some vegetarian sausages and beans on wholemeal toast. Around 1000 calories. Yesterday… maybe around the same; I didn’t count. The past week… around 300-400 calories a day. Sugar-free squash and strong coffee and taking anti-inflammatories on an empty stomach. By Friday I was flaring heavily and dizzy from lack of food. A good dizzy. Confirmation that I’ve restricted enough calories. My stomach was rolling and, despite being almost empty, cramping like crazy. I spent most of Friday afternoon on the toilet.

So really, I do know what happened. The flare combined with restricting; not forgetting regular joints and a bit of alcohol… it all brought me down. S doesn’t have much money right now – it’s getting close to payday – so I packed two big bags of food from the cupboards and fridge. I’d bought a cherry pie and ice cream, thinking that we could snuggle up together in front of a film and I’d feel safe enough to eat. I baked the pie; baked it at 11pm and we watched Andy Kaufman’s standup on Youtube. I couldn’t eat it. I tried; I really did. I wanted to. However much I attempted to swallow though, the pie just became bigger and bigger in my mouth. It tasted of nothing. All I saw in the bright red sauce and cherries was calorie upon calorie. I ate perhaps three small spoonfuls, then gave up. I’d only had a tiny slice. A 16th of the pie, S said.

I tried chocolate Philadelphia on walnut bread. Two small slices later, I felt horribly full and self-aware. Coffee with almond milk became a big no-no once I started thinking, “nuts have fat in…”. I told S that I was feeling ill and that’s why I wasn’t eating. It wasn’t exactly a lie; I felt downright bloody awful.

Saturday, and the weather was lovely. I spend it indoors, either sleeping or reading. I couldn’t face daylight. Cooked pasta and again, couldn’t eat it. S said it was lovely – I’d cheated and used ready-made sauce, but had chopped up some onions and garlic to add to it – but I just couldn’t taste anything. It was like eating cardboard.

I slept a lot, sweating buckets all over S’s mattress. Occasionally he’d wake me with a kiss or a nuzzle, and give me a cuddle. For the first time, well, since we met really, we didn’t have sex once on Saturday or Sunday. I just couldn’t feel anything. Couldn’t find the energy. S didn’t mention it, which is a comfort. Since O left, I worry that the man I love will walk away because I can’t always manage to perform. S… it just didn’t seem to be an issue with him. I’m very lucky; I know that.

He treated me like a princess. Fluffed my pillows and tucked me in with a kiss on the forehead. Didn’t tease me about my hairy, unshaven legs. Helped me over the back step when we went out for a smoke. Didn’t pressure me to go to a party we were both invited to, and came back in the time he said he would, giving me a big kiss and telling me about how much I’d have hated to be there anyway.

We talked a lot about the new flat. The bathroom’s been done; there’s a large corner shower apparently, and they’re doing the kitchen now. We’re getting an oven, fridge/freezer and washing machine. New cream deep-pile carpets. S has a huge leather sofa with a chaise longue. A chaise longue! We’re going to get a Rasperry Pi and set it up as a server for all our music, and have Age Of Empires battles.

We’ll be moving in soon. Around two or three weeks from now.

I’m hoping a lot will change once S and live together. He grounds me. Keeps me balanced.

I came back home on Sunday night, shuffling into a taxi and clinging onto my new phone like crazy so I could have some connection to S. My mobile broke a while ago – the camera stopped working and then the touch screen – and on Thursday I spilled a full cup of coffee on it, destroying the poor thing entirely. I spilled a lot of coffee that day. I’ve been knocking drinks over like crazy for a couple of weeks now.

An acquaintance (I’d say friend, but you know the issues I have with that word) offered me a Samsung Ch@t for free, and dropped it off at S’s house on Friday night. I can’t help but mistrust this person, like I do pretty much everyone else, but it was a kind thing to do. I hate the name of the thing – Ch@t, for god’s sake – but it’s a cool little thing and has a QWERTY keyboard, meaning I can send texts comfortably again. Touch screens made my fingers ache.

Didn’t sleep on Sunday night. I missed S too much. When I’m feeling like this – down, but not depressed – all I want is to cuddle up next to him and feel his arm around me. When we sleep, he wraps his whole body around me sometimes. We’re always touching in some way, and we usually wake up holding hands. It sounds unreal, and part of me is still convinced it is. I just wish I could get my brain in order; I can see a future with this guy.

And I don’t think that’s the BPD talking.

 
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Posted by on August 21, 2012 in Every day life

 

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Strength in numbers: the Strong Person award.

Trigger warning: contains talk of suicide and self harm. 

You heard me right! You are not weak, you are strong. You are not a failure, you are a fighter! This goes out to all mentalists. And it’s a gift from me (The Quiet Borderline) to you all – Please spread the love. Mental health is not something to be sneered at and it deserves much more respect. Stop the stigmatising.

I was wondering how to begin writing a post today. The anxiety has passed but otherwise… things have gone a little squiffy. Somewhere along the line, I lost control and grabbed for the closest crutch; food. Or rather, as little food as possible.

After yet another restless night, interrupted by stomach grumbles and dreams of cake, I woke this morning to an award nomination from The Quiet Borderline. It seemed fitting. The above quote is from her blog, explaining the award she’s created; I’ve given my opinion on blog awards many times but I think this one could become something special.

1. Make sure to add in the above text and image (below) to spread the love and add how little or how much you want! 2. Name your diagnoses – Stand loud and proud! You can tell us a little about them also if you’d like. How you’re affected by these diagnoses and how you are fighting your way out of them. 3. Add a photo of yourself, or some abstract picture that represents you, anything you like! 4. Send this on to as many, yes, as many, people that you like. It can be five, ten, fifty.

2. Depression. Probably my most important diagnosis is clinical depression; a permanent feeling of doom with regular visits to a hideous abyss I can only describe as being as close to hell as it’s possible to be. I know that sounds like an exaggeration, but I know there are others reading this who understand all too well how it feels to be trapped under the dark duvet of depression. Since puberty I’ve struggled with suicidal thoughts and occasionally actions; my first overdose (antidepressants I’d been stashing away for weeks) landed me in hospital for two or three days, and the second involved cups of hideous charcoal water and having my blood cleaned after I woke up, still alive but with bright purple blotches all over my body where the combination of paracetamol and strong coffee had taken its toll on my liver. After trying a couple more times and failing – ending up either in hospital or missing the vein on my wrist entirely and bleeding all over the bathroom for half an hour, feeling like an absolute twat – I realised that suicide was never going to be the answer. I still struggle with the thoughts sometimes… they creep up and try to drag me under. I just don’t act on them anymore. Medication keeps me just about safe.

Depression: why it was never about sadness

Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD).  Eighteen months ago I had no answers for the way I often reacted to events; multiple psychiatrists and doctors had seen me in their offices over the years and tried to stick a label on my total inability to cope with, well, anything. To describe it all sounds ridiculous; hiding indoors in case somebody spots me (agoraphobia from a fear of being judged and laughed at) and panicking every time somebody says they’ll call me and are late. Banging my head against the wall because nothing makes sense. Because I’m so fragmented and messed up. Self-harming to cope with the anger inside me I could never let free; a quiet borderline, if you will.

What is borderline personality disorder?

Anxiety. Crippling, soul-destroying anxiety. Is that part of BPD? I don’t know. Everything melds together into one fucked-up disorder with no name. A combination of Cipralex and beta-blockers keeps me on a somewhat even keel. It feels like the fight or flight response in me is broken; I run away from the most ridiculous situations, freak out over next to nothing, and react to stress by hyperventilating and becoming convinced the whole world is against me. Watching me. Waiting for me to fall.

There are others. Bulimia. Anorexia in the past; I’m no longer anorexic but still restrict calories when I lose control over life. Major paranoia, but does that come under anxiety? The occasional psychotic episode.

3.

4. Passing this award on is difficult, because I’m sure there have been many nominations by now. If I repeat anybody, apologies; you greatly deserve the nomination regardless and don’t have to accept.

lalaemzo / Living with BPD / NZ Cate / atwistedfantasy / alwaysallegoric / buckwheatrisk / onxuncovered / Don’t Let Me Get Me / You Know You’re Borderline When… / makeupandmirazapine / Bats / Resilient Heart / notthinginmynoggin /  Diabetic Redemption / aasouthernbelle / Hello Sailor / mm172001 / mysterytopursue / Quit The Cure / roosiegoosie / Temper_Tantrum / Gypsy

Really, I could nominate a hundred more people and still not give everyone the respect their very honest blogs deserve. As time goes on, I may add more to the list; yes it’s a lot of links, but there are a lot of wonderful bloggers out there sharing their experiences and being brave enough to speak out.

You’re all awesome.

 
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Posted by on August 20, 2012 in Every day life

 

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Rude Awakening

Another day, another suggestion that I see my GP.

“I think you’re taking the wrong medication, the Daily Mail says Lyrica is used for anxiety but you’re on beta-blockers and Cipralex so you don’t need it all”. 

I curse the bloody Daily Mail.

Yet again, I slept badly last night. I’d napped during the day – an unsatisfying, food-avoiding fibro nap – and ended up awake until dawn. Dozed off sometime in the morning and was woken by my mother insisting I get out of bed and make an effort. Shouting about medication and having to see my doctor. I’m sick of hearing this at least once a week. Of course, I reacted; half-asleep and irritated, I burst into tears. I just wanted some peace. I wanted to wake up naturally on my own, rather than having my sleep cycle decided for me.

I used to try to avoid getting angry, but I’m tired of it now. Yes, I sleep at odd times but I’m not the only one, and is it any surprise?

Moving out can’t come too soon, but even that comes with its own hurdles. For weeks now, my mother has been trying to get me to pack my stuff away. Telling me to measure furniture and asking about curtains and toasters. Although I’m determined not to let her take over this move, I know she’s trying her best to involve herself with every aspect of it and I really don’t want her to. This is my final attempt at freedom; the first time I’ve actually moved out with a purpose. It’s mine and S’s flat, not hers… and I’m not sure how much I can humour her without blowing up in her face.

Don’t get me wrong. I know she’s trying to help. After all, she’s worried about me. Of course she is. I’m moving into a flat where I’ll have to take control of my own prescriptions and moods; but she seems to forget that S will be there too. And with the freedom living away from my mother affords, I know I’ll be happier. I know I’ll be able to move on somewhat, and hopefully work towards maybe getting to the point where I can work from home in the future and get off benefits. Living here… she’d never allow that. She’s too protective.

I’m not saying I’ll magically get better once I move away. I know there’s a lot of hard work to be done; specialists to see, tests to have, and a lot of the past needs to be dealt with before I can even begin to push on in life. I may never improve physically. I may get worse. But there’s a tiny, tiny chance that being allowed my own freedom and personality could relieve some of the stress on my shoulders and, in time, allow me to think of the future.

Yet again, I’ve wasted an entire day. After being so rudely woken I simmered in my own frustrations for hours, only venturing downstairs once to make a coffee. I avoided my mother. Didn’t offer to make a cup of tea for her. Usually I relent and accept things are never going to change, but why should I? I’m so close to that freedom – close enough to almost touch it – and here she is, still insisting I see my doctor every time I sleep in. Still combing the Daily Mail for health articles to thrust in my face as I’m trying to wake up. Still telling me to measure the walls of the new flat and fit furniture in accordingly.

Is it really the end of the world if I don’t put my desk where she wants it?

I’m tired, but doubt sleep will come easily tonight. I simply can’t cope with being woken suddenly. It throws my whole day off. I’m trying not to feel anxious, but having that bloody one-sided conversation about my fucking GP at least once a week is driving me up the wall. I’ve made no secret that I’m struggling right now; to add to the anxiety and panic attacks, I’m falling down the ED rabbit hole again. It’s so easy to do. It’s control, you see. If I control what I eat, things can’t get on top of me. Knowing I’ve hardly eaten for days is a comfort; I may not be able to deal with the stresses of every day life without freaking out, but I can restrict calories like a champion.

 
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Posted by on August 14, 2012 in Every day life

 

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When the past gives me no comfort

Despite my attempts at being entirely honest and bare in this blog, I do hold back. I assume everybody does, to some extent, even in their most secret of diaries. You see, twenty seven years of life is a lot to fit into just over a year’s worth of writing.

At first, I thought running out of things to say and confessions to admit would happen quite quickly. After all, I haven’t lived for that long; most still seem to consider me a child, barely out of my teens. It seems that even after you grow up and become an adult, there will always be somebody older ready to condescend your problems by mentioning how much more experienced they are. However, thousands of words later, I’m beginning to realise I can’t possibly tell my story in such a short time and, if anything, I’m only just admitting to the tip of the iceberg.

Something I’ve learned about writing such a personal blog – which involves sensitive subjects – is that I have to be feeling in the right frame of mind to speak about certain things. Sometimes I have to be angry; I write best about self-harm when I’m furious. Others, I have to be bordering on falling back into the depression pit. Some things… I am never in the right frame of mind.

 

Like tonight. I would much rather curl up in a ball on my bed and smoke dope and watch E.R until the sun comes up, than write about all the anxiety which has been plaguing me. I’d much prefer distracting myself with pointless games than admitting to finding it really fucking hard not starving myself every time I try to lose just a little weight.  And I’m forcing myself to write because I know that if I don’t, I’ll keep doing it. If I don’t have to hold myself accountable, then what’s the harm in letting myself cut a few hundred calories a day, until I’m only eating half an apple and two carrot sticks? At least then less people would judge me. I wouldn’t have to worry about not being taken seriously anymore, because when I was thin… I felt better. I just felt better. More confident. People listened to me more. I wasn’t just a fat loser with a walking stick and too many piercings.

I’m tired, but I don’t want to sleep. I also don’t want to talk about the voices.

They’re not voices; not really. They’re more like obtrusive thoughts which feel like they come from a different brain. They barge in with suggestions and hints, and are impossible to shut up once they get going. Until a few years ago I believed they were entirely valid thoughts, and acted on them. After years of fucking up and putting myself in dangerous situations… I learned – through lots of self-therapy and even more medication – that they’re not my real thoughts. That’s all well and good, but it doesn’t mean I can ignore them. They shout. Loudly. Demand my attention. Grab onto my brain stem and refuse to let go.

I wish I could explain the things they say, but it’s difficult to put into words. It’s bitter and spiteful stuff; reminders of my failings and every single time I said something wrong. They’re the ones who say that everybody in a room is looking at me, and that everybody I know is just pretending to like me out of pity. When I’m holding the lit cigarette in my hand and feeling helpless, they’re the ones who are shouting at me to press it into my arm. They’re the ones who twisted everything; who convinced me that I had enemies in friends and that others were out to hurt me. They made it all sound so real, and they still do. I just know they’re not a part of me now. Not a healthy part anyway.

I don’t know what I’m trying to say here. That I’m tired and need sleep, probably.

 
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Posted by on August 9, 2012 in Every day life

 

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If we get through this alive, I’ll meet you next week, same place, same time.

I stayed away from sharp things. Suffered from the codeine; entirely self-inflicted, and I’ll never be proud of shoveling bright red pills down my throat until the anxiety stops. Binged on Kits Kats and plain crisps at 3am. Lay awake in bed on Wednesday night, swimming in a sea of chemical highs and sweating out every last bit of water in my body, determined to sleep but flying too high from the codeine and dope.

I don’t know how it works elsewhere, but in the UK codeine can only be bought mixed with paracetamol; 500mg per pill. More than two tablets is therefore an overdose, and I usually need eight or so to give me enough chemical serenity… and I know my liver is paying for it. My addiction… once, I thought I’d be okay, that I wasn’t like other people who had to rely on drugs to get by in life. I convinced myself that I wasn’t addicted. I could stop any time.

 

Now, the lower back pain and constant diarrhoea is telling me otherwise. The headaches and nausea and bloating… it baffles me how I can be terrified for the health of my liver, but still continue to assault it with large doses of paracetamol.

I’m not a stupid woman. For all my failings, I know I’m pretty intelligent. However, I have the ability to create my own strange logic; to remove myself from situations and become convinced I’m okay and won’t damage myself so long as I take the occasional break. And on the whole, I’ve been doing well – since deciding to give up codeine, I’ve managed months at a time without even touching the stuff. Recently though, it’s been harder to resist. The world has been heaped on my shoulders without my permission – with the tendonitis and the fraud allegation – and I’ve retreated to the old habits in order to cope.

This is what relapse feels like.

I intend to make it as short as possible, because cutting myself and overdosing instead of coping with situations isn’t emotionally or physically healthy. Thinking about purging is a dangerous road to travel down; I made myself sick a few months ago, and don’t want to get back into that habit so soon – or at all – because I’ve been doing so well. It’s one of the few things I feel I can be proud of, and I’ve let myself down far too many times in the past. Over a decade of bulimia, and I’ve almost cracked it… I don’t want to go back there; don’t want the puffy face and swollen fingers and constant taste of bile in my throat.

 

Sixteen years, in fact. Sixteen long years since I first stuck my fingers down my throat in a tiny blue cubicle, skipping a lesson so I could throw up everything I’d eaten. Sixteen years since I first realised that fat = unhappy,  and I had to do everything in my power to prevent it.

Seventeen years since I first cut myself. Since my first overdose.

The codeine? That began when my relationship with O started falling apart, six years ago. I would stay awake at night, smoking out of my bedroom window and waiting for the chemicals to kick in and squash the rising panic dead. If O didn’t call, I’d take a handful, knowing it would take away all the anxiety and paranoia that he was cheating on me. When I found out he was cheating on me, I stepped it up; packets of amitriptyline, diazepam and co-codamol, taken as and when I needed to calm down. Days and nights spent tripping on Tramadol overdoses.

I’ve had a lot of abnormal liver function tests. Still, I punish my body so my mind can feel okay.

When you’re young, you think nothing truly awful can ever happen to you. When those bad things do happen, you still think you’re invincible and no amount of abuse could ever harm you. Even years later, when the dentist points out the eroded tooth enamel… it’s not real. Bulimia, self harm, pills… they’re all an addiction, and the brain plays cruel tricks so you don’t give the bad habits up.

 

This weekend, I plan to sit down with S and tell him what’s been going on. About all the stress and bad thoughts. I’ve told him a little about the rising anxiety, but brushed it off somewhat. I don’t like talking about these things in person, and I’m always afraid he’ll find it too much to deal with.

Most people do.

 

 
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Posted by on July 27, 2012 in Every day life

 

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Support

I wasn’t sure what I expected from blogging about my life.  When I began copying entries from my old diary online, I didn’t really know what I was hoping to achieve; in my introduction I wrote how this blog is personal therapy, but back when I started over a year ago… I wasn’t even sure if I’d delete the few posts and forget about the whole thing. I’ve never spoken about my other blog; one I started writing a few years ago. It’s just a collection of my poetry, and I never plan to pass the link on to anybody.

The thing I really didn’t expect was to develop a support network. I’ve always wondered exactly what “support network” means; I read about it in books about getting over depression and eating disorder recovery, but the idea seemed pretty unrealistic to me. Never having had many friends, I’ve always relied on the mental health system and my family to support me. The system let me down, and my family did their best but didn’t understand what I needed. The only support group I ever went to was a total disaster; I disliked everyone there. They were loud and unstable and I had nothing in common with anybody.

However, one thing which has emerged from my writing is a support network of sorts. Reading through the comments on my last post, I realise that I finally have something I’ve needed for a long time; people willing to back me up, trying to advise me on which way to turn, or just saying they’re there for me. Just being involved in some way, with no reason to be other than they want to.

Some may say that relationships online can never be as meaningful as relationships in real life. In many ways I’d agree with that; all my life I’ve needed to be able to see a person to know what they’re thinking, and because trust is such a huge issue I find communicating without seeing the other person quite nerve-wracking; I can never quite trust somebody without looking them in the eye.

After reading those comments, I know I’ve done the right thing by writing about my life. Thank you.

 

 
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Posted by on July 4, 2012 in Every day life

 

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Falling through the cracks

I was chatting to Z on Facebook earlier, and the subject of J came up. When we first moved in to the Georgian house, everything – and I mean everything – was falling apart. The walls were full of cracks and running with damp. There were no electrics and no gas, and the kitchen had wires hanging out of the walls. By the time I left six months later, there were few improvements; the house – once utterly beautiful if records about it were to be believed – was pretty much a cracked shell waiting to fall down. I messaged Z wondering if the cracked exterior wall had fallen down yet, and it got me wondering what J was up to these days.

Despite his paranoia and obsession with protecting himself from the powers that be, J’s Facebook wall is open for anyone to look at. It’s always confused me; this is the guy who bought a crossbow and ball bearings to kill anybody (“instant death with a headshot”) who was planning on breaking into the house, and who sent text messages in code in case the government read them.

His wall was no surprise. Links to petitions demanding legalisation of cannabis. Articles about Anonymous. Bad jokes and inappropriate sexual comments female friends he added purely to try to seduce.

It made me a little sad. Despite everything J put me though, J is sick. Very sick, unless his mental health’s improved since I left him. Somehow that seems unlikely. While we were together, J made no attempt to control or help his bipolar. After I’d walked out on him, we tried to stay friends. Well, I did; I was worried about him – he’d not long been released after being sectioned for months – and despite my reservations, I wanted to make sure he was okay.

 At first he really seemed to be trying. He took his medication – it was easy to tell because he put on weight and ate like a pig – and spoke to the community care woman who visited weekly. After I told him I’d started seeing S, I never heard from him again. To this day I have no idea whether he stopped talking to me because he was jealous, or because I had served my purpose.

J not only slipped through the cracks, he kept right on going to the very bottom. After multiple sectionings, arrests, psychotic episodes in public and a spell of homelessness, J is still sick. He’s forty-two now and, having been diagnosed with bipolar at twenty-six, is still just as fucked-up as when it all started.

As well as sad, it makes me angry to know that, like him, I slipped through those cracks. There were so many chances for somebody to step in and suggest that something was wrong, but nobody ever took the time, and it’s only with retrospect that I realise just how many times I was shrugged off as being “just a teenager”.

Self-harm was, I suppose, the first real indication that something wasn’t right. Unlike some, I had no desire to hide the blood or scars; they were my battle-wounds and if people didn’t like it, then tough. I did, however, hide it from my mother and she only discovered I’d been cutting myself with dismantled Bic razors when the school headmaster summoned me into his office one day and asked me about the scars.

You can always come and talk to me, at any time. But you have to realise that school is a tough place and you’re a bit of a square peg in a round hole. You need to attempt to fit in more“.

Like I was just doing it to be different.

When I was first sent to the psychiatric unit, I was labelled “completely sane”. Despite the obviously fresh cuts on my arms and habit of running straight to the toilet after meal times to throw up, the staff said I was okay. I always wondered why they didn’t see straight through me; nobody gets locked away in the crazy home unless there’s something wrong, and my habit of smiling constantly and always being polite to staff should have shone like a beacon. I was faking it all and keeping the madness locked inside so I’d be sent back home. Nobody acts that perfect unless they’re crazy and trying to get discharged.

During my second admission – a few weeks after my plot to be released worked like a charm – I eventually broke down and the staff concluded that perhaps I was a bit troubled. Still, their attentions were focused on the more severe patients – the anorexics and the violent kids – so my terror at being faced with food and the collection of  razor blades in the bedside cabinet were overlooked. When I stood and banged my head against the wall just to feel something, nobody saw. Staff left me mostly to my own devices, because I was “okay”.

At fifteen, I met the man who became my first serious boyfriend – eight years older and with Asperger’s Syndrome, he was possessive and prone to fits of temper but I worshipped him because he paid attention to me. When the police came months later, they said I didn’t have to leave if I didn’t want to. The chief told my mother that I was competent enough to make my own decisions. Legally I was still a minor, but the police ruled that I was capable of understanding the risks.

At sixteen, I was taken to the local A&E with a stomach full of paracetamol and coffee. A member of the crisis team was called in to speak to me, and I told him it was an impulsive act; just a cry for help. It wasn’t. I was allowed to go home the same day. With the second overdose at seventeen, I was kept on suicide watch for 24 hours in the local psychiatric hospital. I kicked and screamed as I was taken in. Cried the entire time. The mental health team decided I wasn’t a danger to myself and sent me home.

A few months later I ended up back in hospital after taking my entire pack of venlafaxine and a fair handful of diazepam. I had a fit in college, having woken up still alive and disappointed. Unconscious for a while, I missed any procedures which may have been done on me when I arrived. When I woke my mother was sitting on my bed, crying.

This time they didn’t want to let me go, but not because I’d taken more than enough tablets to kill an elephant. I needed all sorts of injections and IV’s. I was unable to pee and needed a catheter, which I pulled out more than once because it burned like hell. I’d done some actual damage this time, and needed medical intervention.

No psychiatrist or crisis team was called this time. The fact that I’d taken an overdose was never mentioned. I went home a few days later – earlier than my consultant would have liked – still unable to pee and with a bruised body from smacking into the floor when the fit started.

Somebody should have seen me falling.

In more ways than one.

 
22 Comments

Posted by on June 18, 2012 in Every day life

 

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Another appointment

My GP’s waiting room is a collection of blue chairs, scattered around tables with old Mojo and Country Life magazines, and the walls are covered in posters for diabetes drop-in clinics and stopping smoking advice. I assume most GP surgeries are the same, give or take the annoying radio which plays Smooth FM at deafening volume. I’ve sat on those chairs so many times in the last few years that I know every last stain and blob of walked-in chewing gum on the carpet. I know when the baby drop-in centre runs and how many patients didn’t show for appointments each month. In a way, it’s like a second home.

Today’s appointment was at 9am. I’m getting good at leaving the house on time now; usually I wind myself up into a state of total panic and end up rushing down the road, sweating and coughing like only a chain-smoker can. Although I didn’t sleep well last night – which concluded in a binge – I managed to be ten minutes early. It was only a routine appointment – medicine checks, craziness checks – but I still somehow convinced myself that I’m a “frequent flyer”; somebody who spends their lives hassling GP’s. I feel guilty for the amount of use I’ve had out of the NHS, and although my doctor has reassured me in the past that I’m not wasting anybody’s time, I’m still not convinced.

We chatted about the side-effects I’ve had from Lyrica – dizziness, nausea, stomach upsets – and also discussed the panic attacks I’ve had over the past couple of weeks. I asked if it could be caused by Lyrica, rather than my anxiety getting worse, and he said that although it’s not a common side-effect, it can happen and my history of severe anxiety makes me more likely to react in that way than the usual 1 in 1000. I feel a bit happier knowing it could simply be down to medication; I can cope with that.

He asked how I’ve been doing on Lyrica otherwise, and I told him the truth; that I’ve slept properly for the first time in years, I can walk without a stick most days, and that I’m in much less pain. I have considered that perhaps all this is placebo effect, but even if it is… I feel better than I have done in a long time, and I can see a future again. With that in mind, my GP has upped the dose from 150mg a day to 300, and once I’m settled on the right amount he’ll keep me on it long-term. Great news, and again… hope for the future. It feels amazing to know I’m still being taken seriously by medicine, if not society.

 
27 Comments

Posted by on June 8, 2012 in Every day life

 

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