Three years ago today, I was discharged from hospital after a 10 month stay. I was excited, lonely, nervous, proud, but mostly scared. I was scared for the next few weeks, let alone for the next couple of years.The first year home mostly consisted of anxiety. I was anxious about everything. Food, body image, public transport, friends, seeing distant family- I actually can’t think of one thing that didn’t make me anxious.

The second year was different. I started to volunteer in a charity shop and this not only gave my days structure, it gave me customer service skills, social skills, and confidence. It was was also something to put on my CV so when I was ready to apply for jobs, I had some experience. After volunteering there for a few months, I added another voluntary job in and I was suddenly busy all the time. I also learnt to drive during this year which gave me a lot more freedom and I was excited at the idea of getting a car (which would open up more job opportunities). 

That bring me to the last year, and really the most crucial year in my recovery. It started off with me getting my first part time job as well as doing my two voluntary jobs. I eventually stopped both of those due to the charity shop closing and the other position didn’t fit in with my part time job anymore. So I went through the summer working part time, seeing friends and family and gained so much confidence and independence. That brings me to December- I got a part time job through my sister and I absolutely love it. It has turned out to be more full time than part time (my contracted hours are still only part time which is great because I always have the option to reduce my overtime if I’m struggling and/or need a break), I’ve made friends with pretty much everyone I work with, already have spoken about the prospect of progressing higher in the company (my colleagues have all expressed they’d like me to do this as well, as they all like me which is lovely), I have a regular steady income and I’m getting my first car in two weeks. Life’s very different to even a year ago, let alone three. 

I always find that I ever truly recognise how different my life is now until I write posts like these. I use this blog as a place to document my progress over time. There’s nothing more satisfying than looking back at a post I wrote six months or two years ago and seeing the difference compared to the posts I am currently writing. No one in my ‘real’ life knows about this blog, it is purely for myself and anyone who may stumble upon it. 

History

When you have a history of mental health issues, how much do you disclose?

I started a new job in December and I really enjoy it. It’s very social, I’ve made a lot of new friends already and there’s also someone I’m talking to and interested in. My only thing is, I have a history that’s not ‘typical’. I spent 10 months in adolescent units in 2013/13 when I was 16/17. I’m now 20 and honestly, it doesn’t affect me much anymore. I don’t think about it much and although I’m still in contact with people I met there (I actually met my best friend in hospital and we barely ever talk about it!) it really isn’t a massive part of my life- to me, it was just a chapter. 

But I know that questions are going to come up eventually. If someone really digs deep on my social media (I’m talking scrolling back a couple of years on Instagram or Facebook which people do surprisingly often), they can find things that easily point towards what my situation was. I know the easy solution would be to delete the posts or pictures or whatever, but I don’t want to. Now, and in years to come, I can look back and compare my life then to now and I like that. There’s nothing extremely personal on there anyway, just vague things that someone with half a brain cell could piece together that I had some form of mental illness. And anyway, I’m not ashamed. I’m just aware that everyone I meet doesn’t need to know my life story. 

It’s quite a gossipy environment so I think I’ve come to the conclusion that I won’t tell my coworkers/friends unless we become friends outside of work and it seems appropriate. There has to be a level of trust that they won’t spread it around the department. But what about the guy I like? Say we go out, I mention things about my past and he’s either scared off or we just don’t work out, and then he tells other people? That’s something I have no control over. I want to live my life without being nervous my personal life and medial history will be laid out for everyone to see but how do I do that?

If I decide I won’t tell someone until we are fairly serious or are good friends, won’t they feel like I’ve been lying to them when I finally do tell them? 

I hope this makes sense, I’m literally just rambling thoughts and have no energy to proof read. If anyone actually manages to read this shit, please offer up some advice. I would definitely appreciate it. 

TW 23/9

I feel so alone. My family are great but they love me because they are related to me. I have a couple of friends but no one who I see often or who lives near enough to see on a whim. My life consists of sleeping, eating, going to work, and mental health appointments. I have no hobbies, I have no interests. I’m a shell of a person. 

When people I haven’t seen for a while ask what’s new, I have no idea what to say. What’s new? Nothing other than the fact I kinda wanna jump in front of a car. Not a great conversation starter.

“Maybe some people aren’t meant to be saved” and maybe I’m one of them.

I don’t know why I feel the need to post this but I do. I’ve been doing relatively well for about two months but today, although busy, I’ve noticed things slipping- I don’t know if it’s because my cousins leave tomorrow and I won’t see them for a month (I’m so busy when they are here and I absolutely adore them) or if I’m falling backwards again. I really don’t know. I don’t usually post anything ‘spur of the moment’ or without thinking about it beforehand so this is different and very current. I’m sure there will be updates to follow. I just want to either be ‘ok’ or ‘not ok’ and not stuck in between.

My sister

My sister leaves in five days for five months. She’s travelling around Vietnam, Cambodia, New Zealand, and various other places. I’m happy for her, I know the job she’s in isn’t somewhere she envisions herself staying long term and she’s going to have the time of her life, but I can’t help but envy her.

My sister, my perfect sister, who I’ve always admired and tried to be like (always failing) is living her life and isn’t dictated by mental illness like I am. Sometimes I wonder, why me? We were raised together, four years apart with our brother between us, by the same parents. We grew up around the same people, went to the same schools, and even some of the same clubs. When she finished high school (she completed her GCSE’s and A levels with great grades) went to Uni for four years, kept up a weekend job throughout which then became fulltime after she graduated. Compare that to me. The younger sister whose CFS and first suicide attempt dragged her from school at about 13/14. I got four GCSE’s and as of right now, have never attempted A level’s. I was the one that had to try and convince a college to let me start my course whilst in hospital and send them my work via the unit teacher only to be told that they didn’t think I was capable and to come back the next year (didn’t happen). Could our lives have gone in two more opposite directions? Don’t get me wrong, I love my sister, I really do. There was a long period of time in which she was my only friend and she remains one of my best friends but how is it possible that two sisters who in some ways are so alike (we both love reality tv, cheese, our dogs, and would stand up for one another against anyone) be so different?

I’m not looking for an answer. I don’t need to hear about how everyone is different and that even though we are sisters, we aren’t psychologically the same. I know all of this and I’ve most likely heard it before but it doesn’t stop the pang of jealousy (ouch, admitting that hurts) I feel when I compare our lives.

Sis, if you ever read this, I know it’s not your fault just like it’s not mine. I love you. X

One year on

Today is the one year anniversary of me being at home. In some ways it feels like I’ve been home a lot longer but in others, it feels like yesterday I was pacing the ward corridors sharing headphones and belting out depressing music with another patient who has since become one of my best friends.
During those ten months I accumulated a lot stuff. Section papers, ward round reports, a shoe box full of letters from family and friends, care plans, multiple diaries full of my distorted rambles, therapy notes, a folder full of art therapy work, and various other crafts/papers from different groups. After my discharge I put it all into a big box and shoved it under my hanging rail, out of sight out of mind. This week, I decided that I felt ‘ok’ enough to have a look through it. I felt like it could go in one of two directions- I could be majorly triggered and have a meltdown or I could be proud of myself, proud of how far I’ve come. Luckily, it went the second way. I don’t think I’ve ever given myself time to sit and think about how far I have come. Back then, I was attempting suicide daily, had to have a staff member within arms reach at all times (including on the toilet, in the shower, and whilst I was asleep), I was sectioned, and at my lowest point, I was refusing visits and not talking to any friends or family.
This morning I woke up (in my own bed- I still appreciate that) to some cards and a presents from my family. I’m so lucky to have them. Today could easily have gone unacknowledged but my family, my mum particularly, always makes sure that on days like today I feel appreciated and proud of myself. Because I know now that I deserve to feel this way and not how I did back then. I’m going to end this post with a snippet from my mums letter. This is something I’m always going to treasure.
“It’s a whole year now since you came home, and I feel as happy today as I did then. You have tried so hard and achieved so much this past year and I hope you know how proud of you I am and how proud you should be of yourself.
With your strength of character there is nothing you can’t do- remember that. And nothing you can’t achieve- when you are ready!
In the meantime, I am always here, to help- if I can- of just to listen- if I can’t, and if nothing else just to be your Mum. Try and enjoy every step of this journey you are on and, above all, always remember how loved and cherished you are.”
I hope wherever you are and whatever you are going through that you have someone in your life to help make you feel loved as I do today. Bye for now. X

2014

2013/14 were without a doubt the hardest, most painful years of my life but with 2015 only a few hours away, I wanted to focus on some of the positive moments from this year! So here we have..

Things I’ve achieved in 2014:

-I accepted that I’m ill and decided to give recovery a chance, which led to..

-..getting discharged from inpatient after 10 months!

-turned 18

-continued with medication

-joined the gym

-was a bridesmaid at my cousin’s wedding

-and wore my dress all day

-stayed at a hotel for the first time!

-stayed out of hospital (minus one blip)

-travelling on train/tube at first with company, then alone!

-eating, within reason, when my body needs to

-wasn’t as reckless with money

-realised that I can’t let other people’s negative emotions/opinions control mine

-got Taylor Swift tour tickets for June 2015(!!!)

-went to my CFS clinic appointment alone for the first time

-met up, multiple times, with friends

-learnt to say ‘no’

-allowed my mum to continue to have complete control over my medication

-got the tube home after an anxiety attack

-cut ties with people found triggering/unhelpful

-met the giraffe I adopted!

-had multiple emotional conversations with different family members, which were difficult but beneficial

-kept up with my regular appointments

-started seeing a recovery, this was a big deal because it meant adding someone new to my care team after such a long time

-made it through Christmas without engaging in negative behaviours

-I’ve finally put the phrase ‘choose your battles’ into motion

-accepted the loss of old friendships

-saw distant family members for the first time with them actually knowing about my illness

This was a difficult list to make because it’s extremely difficult for me (and most people!) to acknowledge my own accomplishments but I think it’s something everyone should start to do more of! So those are the things I feel I have achieved this year. I’m going into 2015 with a completely different outlook on life and hopefully this year will top all of my previous years! I’m most likely going to do a post in January where I set myself some goals for 2015.

With all that said, I hope, whatever you are doing, you bring the new year in with a smile. See you in 2015!