Tag Archives: recovery

Mental Health Update: I’d rather be happy than normal

People keep saying to me “look at all you’ve been through, look at all you’ve survived, you’re stronger than most”. But I don’t feel strong or stronger than the average person. I just feel human. I don’t think I’ve really gone through more things than the average person does in their life, maybe my bad things have all been squished together into a shorter timeframe. I’d like to think so, if that’s what’s happened, the next few years should be fantastically carefree. But I doubt it.

I’ve spent this evening reading back through old blog posts. Reading the thoughts and feelings I had in 2013/14 when I was really struggling with my mental health and anxiety. To this day I’ve no real idea how I didn’t do myself a serious mischief, but I had good friends who kept me in line as best they could. Without my friends I would have been a complete disaster.

Looking back has given me the chance to reflect on how far I’ve come and how incredibly stable I am these days. I’m quite a bit more boring too, but I think a bit of boring suits me right now.

I’ve always enjoyed going out and painting the town red, but after my Dad died in June I had a word with myself and for the sake of my sanity I decided to focus on my family more and not go out as much, after all, they were grieving just as much as I was. It’s a tactic which has paid off, we are all closer, good things are happening and home feels like a great place to be right now.

I’ve been trying to be an uber-mum and a wonder-wife. Importantly, I’ve been trying to be kinder to myself. I’ve had spa weekends with friends, the occasional night out, a wonderful weekend away with my husband. I’ve had a trip to River Cottage, I’ve taken the boy on some magical adventures and I’ve just done things which make my heart glad. I have plans for more things which will make me and my family happy too.

For years my life has been without balance. There’s a lot of talk about work-life balance and I’ve had it wrong all along. Before Ben came along I worked hard and played hard. Once he arrived I began to struggle to be the girl who loved work, enjoyed going out, to be the wife and the mother, the girl who could do it all. It quickly became apparent that I couldn’t do it all and that I was human after all. Fate intervened and the balance shifted, but I still didn’t have it right.

To be the best me I can be I need to up my mum game. I need to be a better, more supportive wife. I need not to work as hard. I need long walks in the fresh air and decent coffee. I need laughter and love. I need my friends and I need to spend more time doing the things that make me happy, rather than the things I’ve felt I needed to do just to get by. I think focussing on being happy rather than my to do list will eventually force the balance to shift.

It’s good to look back sometimes, to see the person I was and to compare and contrast with the Jane who is sitting here today. I am different. I’m stronger, maybe a little jaded and frayed around the edges. But I’m so proud of myself for pulling myself out of the mire and for just putting one foot in front of the other at a time when that felt almost impossible.

It would’ve been so easy to throw in the towel. I’m glad I didn’t because where I am today is so far beyond how I was back then. I’m no stronger than anyone else, I’m no more resilient. I’m just human and we are born to survive.

Mental Health Update: I'd rather be happy than normal - stronger

Anxiety, self discovery and all you need is love

The other day Facebook dutifully reminded me that it had been three years since my last spinal operation. Whilst these daily Facebook memories are meant to be a nice thing, perhaps reminding you of lovely memories of years gone by, my reminder that three years ago I was in hospital wasn’t a great one.

On one hand it’s nice to look back and reflect on how far I’ve come since then, but on the other hand it’s an unwelcome reminder of a dark and unhappy time in my life. Three years ago I was a mess, I spent much of the summer in the grip of anxiety and having the worlds longest panic attack. I couldn’t bear to be in the house after eight months of enforced exile and once I got out it was one long non-stop party, all great fun until the hangover kicked in and I was alone with my racing, panicked thoughts again.

During that summer in many ways it was like being a teenager again, always out at parties and on boozy nights out. I was part of an intense little group of friends who propped me up and enabled me in equal measure. I still see them now, though not as often and our nights out are less wild and carefree than they were.

Since 2013 I’ve been on an intense and sometimes painful journey of self discovery, there have been long and intense periods of navel gazing and introspection. I know and understand more about myself and what motivates me than ever. I’ve had therapy and CBT which were useful and useless in varying degrees, but importantly, most importantly, I’ve had very good people around me.

People who have posed questions about me and my actions and what drives me. People who somehow manage to completely understand what is in my heart better than I do. People who love me for who I am and without coddling me, love and support me when I’m down and champion me when I’m up. I am lucky, so bloody lucky.

Some people come and go, but they always leave their fingerprints on my heart however fleeting our friendship. I am intense, I know this, but if you’re my friend I will love you, support you and fight your corner. My best friend (who knows me better than myself) says that I love unconditionally; which is a beautiful, innocent thing, but it does leave me open to bumps and bruises. A slight snub that most people would brush off, a passing remark, a small criticism, it all hurts and scars.

I know I’m not alone in being tender hearted. The world is full of people quietly breaking their hearts over a half imagined injustice. There’s no known cure other than toughening up, but why should I? I have a heart full of pure love, why should I harden it and become like the others? I know I probably sound like some old hippy, banging on about love, but an old hippy once said “all you need is love”, and they might just have been right.

Healing, happiness and the beauty of my recovery

I was sat in the autumn sunshine at the weekend. I was feeling happy. It’s a rare feeling for me, any happy I have usually has a small undercurrent of my ever present anxiety running through it. But the sun was shining, I had a pint in my hand, was in great company and I felt relaxed and happy. Carefree almost.

I sipped my drink as I listened to my companions chatting away, it was warm and I was wearing a t-shirt. I’m not so self conscious of my scars these days, they’re part of me and my history and whilst I regret one or two of them, I don’t hate them so much.

The sun lit up the silvery lines of my scars and made them shimmer slightly in the bright light. For a moment I ran my hand across them, trying to hide them or rub them out so the others wouldn’t see, but I can’t erase them, so I paused and made a conscious choice to admire their beauty rather than be ashamed of them. I looked at the shimmering silver on my arms, like rivulets of precious metal running over my flesh and I was reminded of Kintsugi.

Kintsugi is the Japanese art of fixing broken pottery with gold, silver or platinum. It literally means “golden joinery”. It’s a beautiful thing and rather plain and ordinary bowls and dishes become breathtaking and rather astonishing works of art when they are repaired in this way. I am Kintsugi. I am an ordinary thing made beautiful by my scars; the rivulets my of scars in shades of silver and platinum show the world my recovery. They tell everyone how I am healed and that I am stronger because of these shimmering silver lines, not in spite of them.

I am Kintsugi. I am beautiful.

healing

Recovery: A year on and I’m surviving

It’s been a year since I fell apart. A year since I spun recklessly out of control and off the rails. A year since my mind raced and I struggled to keep up. A year since I made every mistake possible. A year since I begged my GP for help. A year since my GP gave me sleeping tablets instead of the anxiety medication I so desperately needed.

It’s been a year since my husband would come home from work and I’d run out of the house to escape its oppressive walls. A year since I started heavily self medicating with alcohol. A year since I made poor choices. A year since I started cutting myself. A year since I counted the correct number of tablets I’d need to kill myself. A year since I was nearly driven to that.

It’s been a year since I really worried my husband. A year since I worried my family. A year since my friends grew concerned. A year since strangers from Twitter saved me from harm.

It’s been a year since I looked at my son and thought he’d be better off without me.

In the last year I’ve come back from the brink. In the last year I’ve grown stronger. In the last year I’ve discovered heaven and hell. In the last year I’ve learned so much about me. In the last year I’ve tried to atone. In the last year I’ve worked to recover. A year spent in recovery from life.

In the next year I’ll try and get stronger. In the next year I’ll try to be better. In the next year I’ll try to get better. In the next year I’ll recover some more.

Recovery

The night before my life began again

I wrote this in February and didn’t do anything with it. It was never meant to be a blog post, but I want to share it now, because it seems important that I do somehow.

It’s 11pm on 1st February 2014. I’ve just been standing outside in the dark looking at the stars, watching as the clouds are rushed through the black sky by the wind. I thought of all the skies I’ve seen in the past year. Vivid, beautiful and haunting in their own way. And I cried.

This time last year I’d packed my hospital bag, written letters to my nearest and dearest and said goodbye to my son. The next day I was going in hospital for an operation to fix my spine, stop my pain and give me the ability to walk again. I was prepared to come out either a very different person, or a very dead person. Either way I thought I was prepared. I still cried. I was still frightened but I was ready.

Standing outside tonight I reflected on all that has happened since this night last year. Another operation, pain, infection, depression, rehab, friends loved and lost. And I grieve. I grieve for what has passed. I grieve for the person I was who is now gone, I have a faint memory of her, but I like the person I am now, still flawed, still a bit broken, but I’m a new version of me. Jane.2 if you will.

There’ve been a lot of positives in the past year, but the pain, the physical I can cope with, the emotional less so. The 12 months of turmoil have wrung me out, left me struggling against the tide too many times. I’m broken but I’ve survived. I will continue to survive. What other choice is there? I looked at the sky and I cried, I broke down and cried.

Maybe it is a grieving process, maybe the first year is the hardest. But the sky will change in beautiful ways, clouds race, time moves on, the stars will always shine and I will heal. I will heal.

 

Here’s Where The Story Ends

I had my first therapy session yesterday. Obviously it stirred up a lot of thoughts and feelings I thought I’d worked through, buried or come to terms with. I felt ok about things yesterday, but having slept on it I realise that I’m feeling very sad about one thing we discussed.

Friendships come and go, they are not linear and it’s unusual to keep lifelong friends. I’ve got some fantastic friends and I’ve hung on to the very best of them. I had a friend this year who was amazing, he emotionally supported me through all the hell, he kept me company when I was (very) lonely, he always said the right thing at the right time to cheer me up. I was very fond of him.

We fell out, something and nothing, but we stopped contacting each other. There was no big row, no crisis point reached. We just stopped. I guess he couldn’t cope with my madness anymore. I was sad for a while. I didn’t really understand and I still don’t really.

In therapy yesterday we were talking about who had been there for me this year. I started talking about him (amongst other people) and told the therapist the story of our friendship. Then I started crying. I don’t cry, I’ve stopped being able to cry, but I started crying.

She was incredibly understanding, I know it’s a small sadness amongst many that I need to address and just get over. I’ve got new, better, lovely, caring friends, but losing his friendship after he supported me so much and for so long was a blow.

She asked me why I was sad. I said that it feels a bit like watching a film and switching off 15 minutes before the end. I’ll never know how his film finishes. Then she said, “And he’ll never know how your film ends, and that’s his loss”.

I don’t think about him very often these days, but I do sometimes wonder about the last 15 minutes of his film. Closure is a bigger deal than you’d think. Closure is good. You don’t need to watch the whole 90 minutes and the closing credits to get closure. Sometimes you just make the choice to stop and move on. I’ve stopped and I’ve pretty much moved on. Progress.