I have finally arrived at my first biggest goal, which now seems tiny in comparison to the much smaller goals I had set. My first goal was 1,000 words, then 5,000 followed swiftly by 10,000.
To a lot of people, 20,000 words seems impossible… until it’s done. I think I can declare the ‘trust me’ title on this one.
To celebrate, I would like to ‘show off’ a piece of writing I have written recently. It’s different to the piece I shared at 9,000 words and it will feature in a completely different part of the book.
I think we all do with some hope right now. Perhaps, this could be yours?
“26th June 2017
Yesterday, I had my usual weekly conversation with my therapist. It was one the most positive sessions that I have had in a while. I spoke about how I have been using the skills I have been taught and she spoke about how I arrived at the next point in my recovery circle (I can’t remember the actual name, but it’s based on different steps that we take in recovery. The circle is based on relapse/recovery!)
And, we spoke about the thing I have been dreading ever since I was in a service of any kind – school included. In a month’s time, treatment would be ending, so I asked about discharged.
I admitted that I felt ready to leave everything to do with my Borderline Personality Disorder behind. I felt like I could handle whatever path it decides to throw at me. I felt as if I could ignore pointless communication, pointless appointments, pointless this and pointless that. I felt that I could action when I needed to and ask for help when I couldn’t. I felt I could recognise and handle emotions of different shapes and sizes.
But I was unsure about my Eating Disorder. I still had some truth to admit allowed, to myself, let alone to my therapist or the rest of the world.
I told her, “I need to figure my Eating Disorder out. I think I need help with that?”
Then I almost whispered something entirely different, something that I thought I would never say, never dare admit to somebody who could keep me safe (and warm) at night, every week.
“Providing I can manage to stay away from triggering content online and that I can keep on choosing option B (being skinny) instead of option A (using the power of my voice, to be heard.) I don’t think having the Eating Disorder service would be a clever idea. I think having the service around would keep me sick. I would latch onto it in a way that won’t be useful to me.”
If you think this is my Eating Disorder doing the talking. It wasn’t because the sentence I heard next, which was one of agreement.
Her reply, “It’s good to have transparency as a treatment provider and the same applies to you, the patient. Without trying to trigger you as much as I can..” she paused and I could see the ticking of the clock, tick slower than I swore it had done moments before, then after finding the right words to say, she simply stated, “You no longer fit the criteria for an Eating Disorder. To have mental health services at this point would only harm you. You are a 21-year-old woman, mother and student. You don’t need the extra label of ‘patient.’ Providing you can keep this up, I feel it would be better to discharge you. Of course, if things hit a low point you can always come back!”
Followed by another pause, obviously waiting for a sign but I was busy processing the information in my head. Then she said something that I wasn’t expecting at all, “It’s empowering for therapists to see their patients have a light bulb moment, to use the skills they’ve learnt, to see and feel empowerment for themselves, it’s empowering to see patients make progress.”
I blushed and a small smile appeared on my lips. Maybe I thought at the time, it’s just my mistrust filter, but I really needed to hear this. To hear genuine happiness from my therapist, about my own happiness, felt amazing.
And among hearing all of that, take a guess on the three emotions that I felt, in that moment?
The first emotion that arrived was a huge pile of relief, followed by a tiny dot of embarrassment at the truth I just shed and a quick dash of fear.
Relief because of the time I have been spending working on recovery was paying off to the point where I felt it, saw it and believed in it.
Relief (and yes, still a heck of a lot of terrified fear in letting my Eating Disorder go) because I could finally let go of a physical object and routine that, I was holding onto and that was weighing me down, in the bathroom. I could let the scales and the constant need to check my weight as constant as there are many hours in a day, go. I could let that part of me go. I had permission and there was finally nobody just around the corner that I had to cling too or find somebody that I could prove something always that I honestly Eating Disordered – too.
Embarrassment, because of some truths I revelled in that therapy session which I had held onto for 5 or more years. The truth behind why I thought I was not recovering in the way I wanted too.
The fear arrived later in the evening when I was under the crisp, grey sheets of my bed, having a come-down from the dance of discharge, realisation hit me hard in the face.
I was scared, fucking livid.
- How am I going to go a café, look at the food and not feel guilty about what’s on the menu?
- More importantly, how is the action of eating and not feeling guilty about it, not going to lead down the path of professional input?
- Am I going to be okay with the rolls on my belly?
- What happens now, that I am no longer the sickest person in the room?
- I don’t have that defining label, nothing to cling too or depend on?
- What happens now, that my behaviour can’t be defined by my mental health?
- What happens now (to my benefits) that I cannot use as an excuse for not going to work?
- Do I cling on to my other labels and let them define instead?
- On one hand they are better to be defined as then as a ‘patient’, but it’s still a label?
- Do I have to have a label to define who I am?
- Does it matter if I don’t have label to define who I am?
- Do I have to, right now, define who I am?
- Do I even want to define who I am?
To the last few genuine concerns, I already have an answer: No, I do not want to define myself anymore and I won’t because I can.
Then again, the above questions were still progress in their own right because there were the reactions that I was expecting to have. It didn’t feel like I thought it would!
I thought I was going to do something drastic and dramatic (threaten somebody, try to shoot my own foot, stop eating, purchase harmful things or get stupidly drunk even though I cannot stand the taste, price or consequences of engaging with alcohol.) Anything, to get back into the cosy arms of the mental health system again.
Instead, I made the decision not too and it felt empowering, just like my therapist said it would.
I’m asking myself and I will continue to ask myself until I die of old age or by some miracle figure it out, ‘What I am so terrified about that the idea of letting go weighing myself to the idea of having no mental health service to catch me when I fall just a tiny bit? And the answer is nothing. Nothing. There is nothing inside my head that is screaming at me. Among the standard cue of questions, it was quiet in there.
There was an empty space in my head that didn’t give a shit about the fear I just expressed.
People have faith in me to do this.
I am doing this on my own now.
It was quiet inside my head and for the first time, it was not because I was bottling up emotions, feelings, actions, stories, etc, it was because there was nothing to fear or think about for 100 times in a day.
And despite the questions above, I feel good about it.
It’s continued to be quiet, or at least washed away from the scene in under 5 minutes.
This time last year, I had just tried to kill myself. I saw my life as nothing.
Today, as I sit here, just about ready to part ways with my desk, turn off the fairy lights, blow out the vanilla and cinnamon candle and head on back to bed; I am overall happy to be discharged from mental health. I am happy to be alive.
I realise now, that I have a life to live, course work to hand in on time next year, my son’s laughter to hear, candles to light in memory of those who couldn’t find their own strength, hot chocolates to sip on under the comfort of a warm, cosy blanket and a story to write – a message to send.
Mental Health or No Mental Health, I refused to be stopped from becoming the healthy, confident, clear headed, self-assured and independent mother, student and writer that I want to be. That includes Minimalism!
It still feels weird saying that, but I know that one day, it won’t.”