In November 2016 I was admitted to an adult mental heal unit for the 17th time that year. I had let my illness consume me, all that I was had seemed to disappear and the only place I could be safe was in hospital. Three years and Three months ago I was discharged and I never went back, I engaged in counselling, took my medication, used outpatient services but with the support of family, friends and professionals I began to claim my life back and rather than be sad that I had to live with mental health issues I was angry and I was not going to let my illness steal anymore of my life from me.
In that time I went from being told by a doctor that the reality was I would eventually take my own life to having no more suicide attempts or self harm.
In that time I went from being told I would always struggle with relationships with other people to strengthening the friendships I had and making new ones
I went from needing medication to needing no medication, from needing interaction with services to needing no interaction.
I went from being told I would be signed off work sick forever to holding down a full time job with ease.
I went from being Borderline to being recovered
The way I write those things may sound like big deals, which in some way they are and they are things I can celebrate but this is just the reality of recovery and is the same for anyone on the journey to recovery. It didn’t mean that life was easy and that I didn’t have any symptoms or struggles with one of my diagnosis but it meant I had a way of dealing and it not longer consumed me and I found who I was again, separate from my poorly wired head organ.
The past 2 months I have been dealing with a different part of recovery (because that is what it is), Relapse. I began to get ill and things spiralled quickly to the point a couple of days after I first felt the symptoms reappear I looked myself in the mirror and told myself I was no longer in control. I stayed out of control cycling quickly, falling deeper into my depression and sometimes flying into hyper mania without noticing my feet wernt even of the ground. When I realised that I could not work whilst in that state I rang for help and was put on home visits each day to make sure I was staying safe and for about 3 weeks I did.
I thought I was getting better and went back to work, picked up my normal routine but I was not better, I had found myself in the eye of the storm it seemed chill, calm almost, like normal just a bit darker but then the storm hit me, full force and I was no longer me. Something in me changed and I decided I would give way to whatever my illness wanted. I didn’t want to fight it anymore because I felt like a failure, I had failed in my recovery, I was worthless, I was not made for this world, I had failed to be a person and now whatever happened would happen. In this time I was still adamant that I was OK that things were harder but I was OK and this was not a relapse, I was not Ill, they were dirty words that only added fuel to the fire of my failure.
I encountered a trigger, it may have been small but I could not deal with it and it made me explode, the home treatment team came for there visit and I told them I was fine but they were worried and came out again later in the day. I told them to leave. I told them I was fine and did not want there help, that I was getting better, I was back at work and doing things I was meant to and that they should get out of my house. Looking back I was rude, arrogant, a liar, but mental illness can change my personality. They said ok and they left the house and I thought that was the end of it. I’d already taken a lot of pills that day so I (for some reason which probably illustrates how out of it I was at that point) cleaned the house from top to bottom, did my hair and make up and got dressed up and then sat in my room, got everything organised I needed and set about ending my life. At the moment, not even exaggerating for dramatic effect, literally at that moment there was a knock at my door and there stood two doctors and a social worker. If you’ve been involved with mental health before you know shit is going down when you see two doctors and a social worker. They spoke to me for what seemed like forever and I lied my why through, argued my way through, thought I’d done a good job of showing them just how fine I was until they told me they were writing “pink slips” I have never been more angry or cry shouted so much but it did me no good and I was put on a section 2 and transported straight to a inpatient unit.
I spent 9 days at the unit being angry. How could they do that to me? I was fine? I was getting on with things? It was nothing to do with them that I was hurting myself, surely that’s my right? Why have they got the power to ruin my life? I wasn’t even that I’ll, why did they even bring me in?
It has now been 2 weeks and it is only now that I am ready to acknowledge what happened, accept it and take back control of my own recovery, I have 6 days until I am discharged and I plan on working to make sure I am able and on it when I come out!
I am saying this, not because it’s just a story to tell but to say it is OK to relapse, it doesn’t mean you have failed, it means you’re unwell, or something is wrong that needs addressing. Radical acceptance is accepting myself/yourself in the worst days as well as the best days and understanding that mental illness is not you but a part of you.
If I had had that mindset that maybe things would not of gone so far, I would not of been scared to admit my relapse and might of got help sooner, I defiantly wouldn’t have been in hospital as long because I was wasting days being angry with the situation and myself.
Rather than being angry that after more than 3 years there has been a life halting relapse, it’s time to celebrate that there was 3 years well and it is not impossible to have that again, but accepting myself is the only way I will have that again.
The hardest thing to deal with this time round has been the shock, the shock that I was ok for so long and then suddenly wasn’t, it was shock, guilt, fear and an overwhelming sense of failure that led me here.
But to myself and anyone else that needs to hear it, you are strong, you are enough, you have not failed and you can ask for help. I have questioned myself a lot the past week, does this mean I am ill again forever? Am I strong enough to do this again? Brace enough to rebuild myself again? Do I have the hope that that’s even possible? I may not know all the answers but I do know that so far I, we, have lived through 100 percent of the worst days and I plan to live through the rest of them, holding out for the good days knowing that eventually there will be more great than terrible, there will be more average than difficult.