Its been a bit of an emotionally charged week to say the least. I’m not meaning to use this blog as a chance to ‘rant, rave and reveal all about my dirty laundry’…however, i feel a certain amount of ‘sharing’ is appropriate. It will possibly strengthen the impact of the project perhaps – showing that life does have ‘twists and turns’ and sometimes relationships, resources, responsibility and stark realism can be what is needed to turn an ‘i can’t’ into ‘i can’…….t is a wonderful thing…speaking of which, i must remember to drink my tea this time, as i tend to rattle on and find a cold cup of brew at my side by the end of the blog! (and having spent the past few months in a unit whereby cold tea/coffee is often served due to the sheer quantities in which it is made and the sheer lack of quantity of staff allocated to serve it who often get called to other things in the process too, i appreciate being able to make, and enjoy a hot cup of tea myself! It’s the simple things…!). Sorry, i digress.
I have now been discharged from the treatment unit and am facing overcoming the bits of the anorexia which remain, myself. I decided to tackle the problem ‘head on’ and not allow myself to be a recluse. I now understand that a great deal of my problems are social. I guess i partly avoid social situations because of my self esteem – i feel people would feel obligated to meet me, it would be awkward as i’d have nothing of value to contribute whereas they’d have stories galore of exciting adventures that everyday life entails (yes – hearing about everything from holidays to work to tv shows they’re interested in – can be a refreshing change when you’re use to thinking/talking/being preoccupied with – food). Partly as well, i think i’ve existed so long by the anorexic rules, rituals and regimes, that anything which poses an interference/threat to this, or risks revealing its monotony and often embarrassing outcomes, causes a great deal of internal resistance.
So, this week i’m arranging to be a bit of a social butterfly – albeit resting along the way… i’m trying to re connect with friends/family and arrange to see people and catch up. I’m also keen to ‘do things differently’ this time by spending more time socially, meet new people and commit to relationships in order to strengthen them and in turn hopefully strengthen myself!
I started by going to my parents and sisters house. This was nice, it gave me insight into how ‘out of touch’ i was with them and how their lives aren’t always a ‘bed of roses’ as i always imaginem with me being the weed amongst. I felt a great deal of love, both for them and from them and i enjoyed chatting, catching up and coming clean about some of my feelings, fears and frustrations with recovery/thought processes. This helped a great deal, in fact i wish i’d given it a go earlier! Whilst i don’t ever want to, or intend to, burden them, i guess i would like the problems we face to be shared between us, in order for us all to work together and support each other – not work against each other and compete/compare/cast asides our needs for those of others. I feel closer, and more supported by them, than i ever have done, and i hope it continues and that the feeling isnt’ one sided…
I had to return to the hospital to collect my stuff, having fled quite suddenly following a review meeting which resulted in my discharge, less than 24 hours previously. In the review meeting, the team, and I, had difficulties finding a ‘shared goal’ and it felt very much like a battle to find a way of working together – as a patient i feel powerless at times, and this is a very disempowering and distressing state to be in. I often think of it like being a caged animal – when restrained, provoked and ignored – they react – i did the same, possibly not in the most restrained way – but never the less, it happened. Again, hindsight is wonderfully logical, but ‘in the moment’ emotions prevail. Anyway – i admit, a lot of the staff in the hospital often tried hard, sadly they were at the peril of the ‘powers that be’ as much as patients were, at times. You could see a lot of genuinely caring, compassionate, capable support workers and nurses and members of the wider team, who genuinely seemed to do the ‘best’ for the patients. Its amazing how a smile, a caring word, a hug, a wise word, a listening ear or just hearing ‘i believe in you’, can help set someone on a potentially positive pathway or defuse an emotionally charged situation. I was sad to leave in what i felt was a ‘black cloud’ again, having done this on previous occasions, only to have to return with my ‘tail between my legs’ feeling ‘ahsamed to have failed’. But i do not regret taking responsibility and acting in a way which i felt respected my sense of self. I regretted not being able to truly thank the individuals, staff and patients, who helped me, supported me, spent time with me, had fun times involving crafts/facemasks/sock monkeys/nail painting/chats with me – oh and loom bands of course! – and also for showing my ‘true colours’ having always tried hard to ‘mask true emotions, in case of disapproval! However, i have since been in touch on facebook or in letters – to try and ‘repair’ some of the relationships, and one thing i hope is that they can understand (as they always seem masterful at doing) that this was the right decision, at this time, for me. It was helpful for my family to be able to talk to the staff too, hard for me to hear some of it, but eye opening to see how families are affected, not just the individual experiencing mental health issues. Quite poinyant for this project, don’t you think?
I think being in the above situation showed me that i cannot always presume others reactions, i cannot always ‘get my own way’ or control others reactions/decisions, sometimes the ‘powers that be’ act according to their motives which might not always seem fair or just to those affected by it. it showed me what i value, who i value and who values me. It showed me that i shouldn’t presume how others feel/view things/me or shy away behind a ‘mask’ incase of revealing myself as a monster – the people who genuinely want to be in my life, will understand and work with the ‘true me’ and if they don’t, well then it’s about moving forward regardless….
So yes, lots of positives can come from a negative ultimately…
Yesterday, I had a great morning doing something a bit different (did anyone watch the Monty Python show?!!? Now for something completely different…!) thanks to a lovely group and a key part of the SOS project – Sian, in St Fagans. I went to a felting workshop! It’s not something i’ve ever thought of doing, or considered how it is produced, previously, but nevertheless it was so much fun! I did feel inferior at times, not seeming to be skilled/creative in any form with felt– especially when the lady holding the session said it can’t fail because even toddlers can do it – no pressure to perform!?! But it was so therapeutic, distracting and social – everyone was fluttering around felting their own masterpieces as instructed, adding their individual touches and creating things for themselves or others. A big part of this which made it ‘special’ was how social it was. People were commenting positively on others pieces, asking for advice/reassurance/assistance as well as using it as a chance to mix, mingle and catch up. For me, it was a confidence boost to meet new people, interesting to hear others crafty ventures and see how individual everyone’s creations were, as well as catching up with Sian and Margaret who i knew through craft club – getting a hug, a smile and some friendly chit chat! These are the real things which make something valuable! I am always touched by how unconditional friends kindness is – how i can ‘go completely off the radar’ at times, and still be welcomed back with loving arms! This is a privalage and a blessing. Each time I meet with, or hear from, important people in my life, it reinforces how important it is for me to continue recovering, however hard (And it is/will continue to be) it is, because life can be filled with fun, relationships, partners, adventures and skill development – all VIP things to bare in mind when at a ‘crisis cross roads’!
In terms of stitching project – i couldn’t have done it during my admission without the help and patience and caring contributions of everyone involved! Supporters, contributors (YOU!), friends, family, you’ve all been super! I hope this continues, even though i am ‘back’, as the amalgamation of ideas, support and encouragement, as well as practical help – could really help this stitching project to shine!
I’ve seen, this week, a lot of support on the facebook group, and have a few ideas of other organsations i need to ‘make contact with’. I’ve been delighted that people have offered to ‘spread the word’ by displaying posters or featuring a piece in their media sources, or just telling others! I hope this continues.
I guess the major ‘issues’ are making sure the project gets ‘out there’ and that people are supported to know what they are doing. I continue to look for potential outlets to display a poster, people to tell and places doing craft groups. I hope that people are finding the stitching process beneficial and enjoyable even, maybe even sociable. Not a great deal has ‘developed’, but as always i will keep posting. Another major issue is finding the right ‘poles’ to use for the end display, deciding what to do with the financial offer from the hospital commissioning it, and thinking seriously if printing posters at this stage is something worth investing in.
As always – i am so overwhelmed, in a positive way, by the project so far – it seems it’s helping people stitch, distract and speak out – i’d love to hear others experiences of doing this whether it be a written piece with their project detailing some of the highs/lows of the project, or just by dropping me an email line or posting on facebook. Communication is a key, i’d love to know what it helps the SOS ‘posse’ to unlock!
I better go, as on a social theme, i have to get ready to meet a dear friend of mine (and a fab part of SOS) in Cardiff now, which promises to be a fun filled afternoon i’m sure! She is someone who is always wise, caring and a laugh a minute, just what the doctor ordered (in fact i think Cardiff bay is on the cards – so ‘dr who’ irony might not be lost on some…!)
Have a wonderful week! many thanks!