Time to Bid Farewell

There have been a few times throughout the years where the privacy and anonymity of this blog has been compromised. Despite this, I’ve kept blogging and this blog is now in its seventh year. This time though….I don’t think I can any more. I was asked by the Head of OT at my university to come to a meeting today, and the Director of Fieldwork and someone from Counselling Services was also present. It was there I was informed that they had found and read this blog and now that they have, there is a duty of care to ensure I am medically fit to do fieldwork. Thus my next fieldwork placement is pending medical clearance from the doctor at the mental health clinic.

I feel so exposed. I have poured so much of me here that I have never shared in person. Yes, I’m the one who chose to blog publicly. It was never intended though for the eyes of those who know me personally, and I can say with certainty that I did not ever anticipate OT staff at my university would read it. I’m stunned and can’t quite believe this is actually happening. I’m horrified and mortified by how much my lecturers now know.

Over the years Behind the Facade has garnered a number of readers and followers and it’s been wonderful to connect with a whole community of mental health bloggers. Unfortunately a downside to the increased traffic is that you never know who may come across your blog, and who may choose to report you. First the hospital I was in a couple of years ago, and now the university. Who knows what’s next, and it’s just become too much of a risk. Though my archives have been made private for now, I may decide to make them public again in the future once I ensure I’ve eliminated all identifying information that could give me away.

So I guess it’s goodbye for now. Which is sad, as this blog has been an outlet for me in my worst times for the past few years. At the same time this blog has dropped in importance to me in relation to the other things I have in my life, and the mental health blogging community isn’t what it once was, so maybe now’s a time as good as ever.

Take care everyone and thank you for being a part of my journey xx

 

At the goal weight

I’m at the goal weight that was agreed on- 43kg. Originally they wanted me at 46kg, thankfully they’ve lowered it to a weight that is both healthy for me and a number I’m more able to cope with. They want me to maintain the weight for a few days before discharge. Technically I’m now “voluntary” as the Form 6 of the Mental Health Act I was under expired. However when I said I wanted to leave, I was told I wouldn’t be allowed to do so, and that I’d just be formed again if I did. Doesn’t sound very “voluntary” to me. I realised though it’d be better for me to play the game and comply for a week rather than run the risk of being put on a Community Treatment Order when I’m discharged, which could last for up to six months. It’s what I continue to try to tell myself- play the game, not long to go now so don’t screw it up for yourself.

Saw the psych registrar today who told me if I dropped the weight again they may bring me back into hospital which could result in a longer stay and they’ll increase the goal weight even more. Next sentence he’s telling me they want me to continue to see the doctors and the dietitian as an outpatient. I almost laughed and asked him why I’d attend outpatient appointments if it ran the risk of being forced back into hospital? At this stage I’m not sure whether I’ll maintain or lose weight when I go home, but I sure as hell am not coming back here to obtain treatment for anorexia. It makes me so angry to think about the punitive way I was treated here. Taking away my control, insisting on putting in a nasogastric tube without even giving me a chance to eat, taking away my dignity by not even allowing me to walk 3m without a wheelchair, not allowing me any of my clothes and belongings and not even my glasses, being so rigid to the point of ridiculousness in following the “management plan”, confining me to a room on “bed rest”, focusing entirely on weight gain with daily weigh ins, forbidding my friend from being put on the same ward as me even though her doctors were fine with it, taking away the one thing that may lift my mood and take away from being so miserable. I’m not opposed to treatment entirely, just treatment here after this awful experience. On principle I don’t plan on attending any future outpatient appointments here. As for treatment in general, I’m feeling so tired of it all and at the moment it seems futile. I’d seen a clinical psychologist three times during the past couple of weeks, last session however my defences were up, I didn’t talk and told her it was pointless. I’m sick of starting over and over again with countless psychologists and I feel like nothing will work anyway.

I’ve been feeling hopeless about everything and anxious about the future. One of the nurses was saying she’s excited to plan for the future, which I’m envious of, and wish I was too. Instead it just seems bleak with nothing to look forward to and I’m too afraid to think ahead as the future just scares me. When I’m restricting and losing weight it takes away from my emotions and my feelings and now that I don’t have that, the sadness and hopelessness and anxiety is intensified. When I’m eating disordered I can pretend that food and weight are the problems and can delude myself into thinking that if that is solved, everything will be fine. On the surface that’s easy to cure, eat and gain weight and life will be fine and dandy. The reality however is much different- I may be eating and a healthy weight but then I have everything else- the feelings of being alone, hopelessness, feeling I can’t cope with life as well as everyone else, and desperately wanting a way out. That’s much much harder to fix and I can’t even pretend I have a solution to it because for this I really, really don’t.

One year

So I don’t quite know how it happened…but it seems it has been an entire year since I’d last taken a trip to the emergency department, been admitted to hospital or even taken an overdose. Okay, so I know for most people they manage not to do that ever so it shouldn’t really be such an achievement, but for me it is. Those who’ve followed my journey on this blog for some time may recall a girl who was quite consumed with her mental health issues. Who, for the past three or so years prior, could not go more than four or five months without overdosing and ending up in the ED. To be honest I’m not even entirely sure how this year happened, but here I am.

That’s not to say I don’t still struggle. I most certainly do. There are times when I still contemplate overdosing and that ending it all may be easier. Certain things and situations still will trigger me. At times I still self harm. There are times when I miss and long to receive the support of a mental health professional, and feel envious of those who do. But all in all, compared to how I used to be, I think I’m going okay. I just hope it continues not just for one year, but for many, many years.

Where am I headed?

I don’t know where I’m heading with my life. Others have goals, aspirations. I used to have them too. Now I’m just drifting. Drifting, drifting along in life until ‘Bam!’ I hit a brick wall, there’s no where else to turn and it all comes to an end.

A few days ago I found out my score on a multiple choice test worth 25% of our unit mark. My result was 33%. Appalling. In a class of 138, my score was in the bottom 8. A year ago, it would’ve taken me days to get over it. I would’ve felt the need to punish myself, I would’ve self harmed, I would’ve cried for what a failure I am. This year, I got upset, cried for a bit, but was over it in less than an hour. Didn’t even cut over it. At first glance it may appear as progress. When you look at the bigger picture though, and you look at why I’m not troubled by it, it points to the contrary. While self harm is an unhealthy coping mechanism, it at least indicated that I cared enough about where my life was heading to realise that my marks determine whether or not I’m going to successfully graduate from University to become a pharmacist. Now I feel as if I’ve given up on life. My mindset has become that it’s going to end sooner or later, possibly sooner and by my own doing, so why try?

I’ve become indifferent. I have no direction in life. I don’t see a future for myself. I can’t imagine becoming a pharmacist, having relationships, getting married, moving out of home and owning my own house, having children, having grandchildren and growing old. That’s talking long term. In the short term, I can’t see myself graduating from Uni or even passing my units. I’ve been turning a blind eye to the increasing possibility that I may fail pharmacy, instead choosing to ignore reality. I dread to think what will happen if I do get terminated from my course. Going to Uni, studying to become a pharmacist gives me the guise of actually doing something with my life. If I’m not going to Uni, I don’t know what I’m doing. Then there would be the terrible shame in being a Uni dropout. Bad enough for everyone else, worse if you’re Asian.

It pains me to remember the days where I was said to have a bright future ahead of me. What was expected of me is that I would get into Uni, pass my units and graduate without any major hurdles. Those days are long gone.

These days, nothing much is expected. Or nothing great anyway. Yesterday for example. My father has been finding empty blister packs of paracetamol and codeine tablets on our front lawn. Now being aware of my ODing tendenices in taking medications with alcohol in an attempt to harm myself, he suspected it was me. Not knowing that I was home, he voiced aloud to my mother that it may possibly be me, abusing prescription medication. For the record, it wasn’t. It’s just my luck that someone has been leaving empty blister packs lying around on our front garden, so soon after the ambulance came and my parents found everything out. Thank you, anonymous pill popper.

I could blame this all on mental illness. Yeah, it’s the mental illness that makes me this way. It’s the mental illness that makes me act irrationally and do things like steal medications from the pharmacy I work in, to go OD on later. It’s the depression that’s taken away my energy, motivation, memory and concentration. It’s the depression that’s affecting my ability to do well at Uni. But really, that’s just me making excuses for my shortcomings.

On a positive note though, I went to the dinner with my workmates last night and I actually had a good time, ignoring the fact that I purged afterwards. I chatted, I laughed and I enjoyed myself. I’d been isolating myself so much that I had forgotten how important it is to your mental health to spend time in the company of others.

Stranded

I was chatting to my high school friend N on MSN last night. She asked what was new with me. I look back at what’s new with me and all I can think of is that I took an OD, had an ambulance come, have had to deal with my parents and a friend finding out all my mental health issues, have been seeing a GP way too frequently and have been referred to a psychiatrist once again. But I can’t tell her that. I could tell her that I have been working and doing badly in Uni, but that’s nothing new. So I reply with, “Nothing really.” I asked her in turn what was new for her. She said that she is now going out with someone, she has a rugby game on the weekend, she’s been offered a permanant position at her volunteer place and she’s just started work experience at a vet and it’s going really well.

I should feel happy for her, and I am happy for her, but I have to admit hearing about how she’s got all these great things going on for her was a bit of a blow for me. I feel like I am missing out on life. What N described to me about what she’s doing is what I should be doing with my life. It’s the sort of thing a normal, everyday 18 year old girl should be doing. Having relationships with guys. Spending time with friends. Enjoying your hobbies. Working somewhere you enjoy and trying to get ahead by doing work experience in your chosen career.

She says that she feels like time is passing her by too fast and she looks back and thinks that her life was whizzed past her. She wants life to slow down so that she has time to enjoy it, and I wonder what it would feel like to be loving life that much. Whilst she may feel wistful about the first eighteen years of her life passing her by already, she can at least look back onto her life and think fondly about it and feel like she’s accomplished something or at least enjoyed the ride. I look back at my life and I think, ‘What a waste.’ I feel like I have accomplished nothing and instead of enjoying my childhood and adolescence, I have been stuck dealing with my mental health issues.

When I reflect back on my childhood, I feel sad for the little girl who was bullied in primary school and found it difficult to make friends. I feel sad for the little girl who started experiencing depression and started self harming at age twelve. I feel sad for the little girl who did not have a happy childhood because she was quiet and shy and had a lot of anxiety. I feel sad for the little girl who had a strict and controlling father and did not feel loved by her parents during her childhood. I feel sad for the little girl who was so eager to please, who tried to hard to do well at school, yet felt like she was pleasing no one. This little girl however, still had some hope that things would improve once she was all grown up.

I’m not a little girl anymore. Some of those issues have been resolved, a lot haven’t, and some new issues that have come up too. The bottom line is that I’m still struggling despite growing a bit older and becoming a legal adult in this world. I can feel sad for the little girl who stuggled so much to find peace and happiness. But right now I am angry and disappointed at myself for shattering that little girl’s hope that there would be change for the better. That hope is slowly diminishing and is instead being replaced with despair. I wish I could tell that little girl that things will improve, you will make it out of this, that you become happy and successful. But alas, I can’t.

I could tell myself that I am only eighteen and still young, have my whole life ahead of me, there’s still so many years for things to improve, yadda yadda. But I don’t believe it. All I can see is, life was dark back then, life is dark right now and therefore life will continue to be dark in the future. Maybe getting help again from mental health professionals can be seen as a step forwards, to ensure that my future is not as bleak as I am anticipating it will be. But I can’t help seeing it as a step backwards, as it means that I am no better and have not improved in the least despite having had treatment before. If I didn’t improve at all last time, what’s to say it won’t happen again for the second time and I end up still being no better?

My friends are moving forwards in their life. I should be doing the same. Instead, I have been left stranded at The Station of Hopelessness & Despair while they have all managed to hop on the train that takes them to new and exciting destinations.

Twelve

That’s the age my brother is turning tomorrow. Twelve years old. The age that I started cutting.

He is still so young in my eyes. I still see him as a little kid. And to think that I started cutting when I was his age…wow. I was still so YOUNG. Even now when I tell people how old my brother is, they’re like ‘Oh, that’s a pretty big gap between you’ and ‘He’s little.’

It’s hard for me to remember now, me as a twelve year old, what made me cut for the first time, why did I do it…

But I just can’t believe I was so young then. Only realising my brother is twelve now made me realise it. Even though at the time I didn’t feel like I was really young at all.

I read an article in the STM on the weekend which was about self harm and some of the issues teenage girls face these days. One of the people in that article was a woman who started self harming when she was 9. She’s 50+ now. I don’t want to be that woman. I don’t want to be self harming for 40+ years. I thought my 5 years was long already. Forty years is so much longer. Even worse is that one day she accidentally went too far with her SH and cut a nerve in her thigh so now she has to use crutches and leg braces to walk. Which is pretty scary…