I feel it’s important to be open and honest about my struggles with my mental health on this blog. I’ve been overwhelmed by the support and kindness shown to me by readers of the blog and whilst I’m terrible at replying I do read and appreciate every one.
Currently things are far from easy. This time last year I was on section in hospital. Today was my 20th day on the local NHS unit and it did not go well. My mood has been on the slide since my last week at the priory about four weeks ago and as a result I have begun to struggle with ligaturing and self harming once again. Today things came to a head. I was desperate to leave the ward and harm myself and as an informal patient spent a good part of the morning arguing my rights with the staff. I’m on level two here which means 15mins checks and means no leave. As I continued to struggle to move away from the ward doors I was placed under a section 5(2) and restrained to the deescalation room. The rest of the day was spent in fear of and waiting for the Mental Health Act assessment I knew was coming. At 4pm I was called in to a meeting with three doctors and questioned as to why I was so desperate to leave and how my suicidal thoughts had become so strong. I basically cried my way through the meeting. I was sent out of the room to find the ward in lockdown as some gardening scissors had gone missing so we were all individually searched and secluded in the lounge whilst all our rooms were searched. During that time I was called out with a nurse from the ward and told I was being placed on a section 3. I was gutted and still feel it was intensely unfair. The staff and patients on the ward were wonderful and supportive mostly and my family and boyfriend have been absolute stars. Those are the positives I have to hang on to.
Last week I was transferred from the priory back to the local NHS unit as a bed had come available. I was terrified, my experience last year on an NHS ward has honestly left me scarred and I was terrified this ward would be the same. Thankfully I was wrong and this ward is much better than that last NHS ward but it’s still hard. I thought I’d share some positive writing from my last creative writing group at the priory, hopefully it’ll help me to re read it too as right now I feel anything but positive. The topic was ‘The Gift I Give Myself’.
My body is battle weary. For ten years it has been the canvas I painted my pain on, the battleground in the war against myself. For years I deprived it of sustenance, forcing my weight lower and lower, each pound a victory, each newly emerged bone a battle, I thought, won. But all I achieved was the bone deep aching cold of permenant winter, bones of a 70 year old at 21, the sharp pain of pressure sores where bone strikes seats and floor and mattress. For years more I have subjected my body to the harsh ravages of bulimia. The continuous filling and violent emptying which led to ulcers hands, a bleeding inflamed oesophagus and the risk of sudden death. And yet still I war with myself this way.
For years I have scored self hatred on my skin. Scars stripe once pure arms and legs, a visual map of my failings. For years I’ve counted my worth on the depth of a cut or the number of stitches required.
And yet ten years of battle and I find myself no further on. My body is tired and battle worn and scarred but it has surivived all I’ve thrown at it. It has survived bullying and rape and mental illness. So perhaps the greatest gift I can give to myself is a ceasefire. A time to end my war with myself and enter the uncharted we territory of recovery…