Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Condron chooses life.

Lately, I've been thinking a lot about life and death. To say I've been thinking is actually a massive understatement, I'm as obsessive as water is wet. I've been obsessing about life, death, and everything in between. There's a lot I can't plan or decide about my life at the moment- such is the nature of being detained, even if it is onto a mental health unit and not like I've done anything to have put me into jail. I don't get to choose very much of what I do, and I'm living in an environment that's pretty damn controlled and structured by the powers that be. I tell you, it's pretty funny the things that you miss when you're in this kind of situation, things you'd not even think of- sometimes I just fancy nipping out for some emergency M&Ms, or having a cheeky vodka at the end of a long day or, God, I don't know, Googling something before 7pm, the earliest time I'm allowed online of a weekday.

I've had quite a dark week or two, deciding, in a way, that death is the only thing I can choose and control. But it's not. I was wrong. I can choose death, or I can choose life. Yes, I can take my newly earned unescorted leave and use that on yet another overdose, or I can take my unescorted leave and just enjoy the fact that I've earned, and deserve, a few hours without anybody checking up on me- another thing you really do miss, but take for granted completely when you're not in this position. I can choose to starve and vomit, or I can choose to look after my body and use all the energy I put into hating myself into loving myself. I can choose to plan the one moment of death, or to plan the many, many moments of the life that's just waiting for me to pour myself into. I'm ill, yes, but I don't need to be terminal.

I choose life. I don't think death can ever be as beautiful as I'm so sure life can be. My life, my past, hasn't shown me the beauty that I'm certain is there, for my taking, but that just means that I'll reach that bit further, swim that much harder against the current, because I've never had, nor do I believe in, mediocrity, as a way of life. I have had ugly, and now it's time for beauty, no in-betweens. My life, right now, isn't my own, but neither would my death be; there's no freedom, the thing I crave most, in death, just a finality that's even greater than the one I feel right now. My current hospitalisation, and I've been in hospital solidly now for over 6 months, seems never ending, because nobody can give me a time-frame, just that I'm almost certainly going to be here until at least next year. But what is death? Death is for eternity, whereas this won't even be a life-sentence. Emergency M&Ms, cheeky vodkas and Google are not waiting for me below the ground.

Choosing life is really liberating, and a bit scary in its vastness, like diving into the sea. It's not as, well, neat as death, if you get me; it's wider and vaguer and messier, but that's freedom, and I reckon it's ok to fear it when I've existed in such a tightly controlled environment- literal and mental. Whenever the thoughts come of things I could do to myself, I try all I can to work through, in my head, if they're compatible with the choice of life. A lot of the time, they're really not. It's not easy and it's not like mental illness and suicide ideation are fixed purely through positivity, but it's just the choice- I choose now not to die by my own hand, whether directly or indirectly; through overdose or eating disorder related disaster. Generally, I don't think there can be much point in doing much of anything until life has been chosen; when death is an ever-present option, motivation for life is all but impossible to muster. Since the choice to live was realised, for me, the world opened up a touch and things have taken on a little more meaning. I can't say life is suddenly sweet, but now at least I know that making it sweet is a possibility.  Life is fleeting- it's a cliche, but it's true- and I'm sure there'll be plenty of time for death when I have truly lived. I want my life to be beautiful, exciting and full of love and cheeky vodkas, and you can bet all your glorious brain on the fact that that's what I'm going to make it.

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

(Celebrity) sexual offences, part deux.

[I wrote here about the range of celebrity, and non-celebrity, sexual offences and, although you'll not need to have read that to understand my points here, that gives a bit of background that I'm going to bypass.]

It's a sad fact of our civilised society, in this enlightened era, that we're meant to be grateful for every sentence doled out to a sex offender. Me? I'm almost as offended by this fact, and the pathetically short sentences usually given, as I am by a sex offender walking free. Summat you might not know about me is that I was a university politics student before I had to leave due to my mental health, and as a former politics student, I'm a news fiend. One of my many, many geek traits is that I will literally watch the news all day. All day the same rolling stories, because the feeling of not being one hundred per cent in the know- about anything, but in this case, current affairs- makes me feel like I've been swept up in a hurricane; completely out of control. A lot of my friends on this unit are the opposite; they'll go completely out of their ways to avoid the news at all costs, because there are too many buzzwords that they need to avoid, mostly around sex offences, because of links to their pasts. We are a ward of  survivors, and to survive, we must do as we must. News stories of sex offences can trigger all kinds of dark things in my fellow survivors, but they spur me on. There is so much injustice and if nobody else is fixing it... I must.

Now, I don't want to go all Daily Mail (as if I could. I don't particularly like Princess Diana, I have no problems with any sexuality, I think immigration is good for this country and I'm a feminist), but a gross injustice happened yesterday in the latest of the alleged celebrity sex offender sentencing. Stuart Hall admitted to abusing 14 girls. Well, you'd think, that must carry quite a sentence. I mean, that's 14 people who will spend their whole life avoiding references; looking over their shoulders; hiding; sleeping with one eye open; curled in the foetal position with his image burned upon their eye lids, and his touch burnt and branded upon their skin. That's 14 families hurt, confused, ashamed and feeling guilty, amongst other things. Rape is like being murdered in a particularly horrible manner, and then having to live with it whilst pretending it never happened, because of a societal stigma.

This great sentence handed to Stuart Hall? 15 months. Just over a month, per victim. Several great injustices lead to this holiday park sentence- the maximum sentence for the types of abuse he carried out is 2 years, unless the victim is under 13, in which case it is 5 years. At least one of his victims was under this age, at 9. When you think about the whole thing, it gets even muddier. If he'd abused one person, he'd have got the same kind of sentence, so is it a case of abuse-one-get-the-rest-free? 

I don't really know what else to say or what conclusions to draw from all this, except I'm not grateful that 'at least he's locked up.' I don't care that the crimes were historical, I don't care about maximum sentencing and I don't care that Stuart hall is now a soiled name. What I do care about is the people he broke, the families he destroyed and all of that lost innocence- taken from both the people he touched directly and the people with any kind of link to those. I care that his barrister apparently told the court, in mitigation, that Hall had "all of 13 [13 was the original claim, it later went up to 14]" victims compared to Jimmy Savile's 1,300. I hurt for a society that thinks this is a valid point and/or that 13 victims is not too many, when in fact it's 13 too many.

Thursday, 13 June 2013

Sneaky sneaky.

This unit really, really believes in The Power of the Group. That has to be capitalised, it really is, like, what it's all about. I wanted to make a cult based here, and I most certainly believe I could, hahaha. Here, the idea of group work trumps logic, I sometimes feel- stick-face-packs-on group; colour-in-pictures-of-Winnie-the-chuffing-Pooh group... granted, plus a few more therapeutic ones, if you can imagine anything more therapeutic than those ;). Me, I'm a bit of a dosser. If you saw my attendance at uni, and configured it with my attendance to groups here, you'd see I have made a touch of progress, but I really am about the skive. Everything is better when you're meant to be doing else- it's a terrible, glorious, fact of life. Hiding, watching the news, reading a book- sometimes boredom inducing, but all more delicious when I ought to be playing Bingo. Right now, I'm in a group. And, although I am allowed to be using the computer, this feels very, satisfyingly, naughty. Sneaky sneaky. I sound terrible, right? I'm not as bad I sound, and I am working on it, swear down. I mean, I go to the worthwhile groups, morning meetings and reflection and therapy that kind of thaang. I'm just a bit of a nightmare with authority, and I've completely convinced myself that skipping bits and pieces is sticking it to the man. I shouldn't have spent my teens wishing I was in Paris in 1968, pfft.

But anyway, in actual news, yesterday I saw the dietitian. It started quite well, I told her that I was sick of this disorder and I just want out, which is completely and utterly true... until I'm faced with food. Then Logical Condron goes to sleep and the beast of the disorder rears its ugly face and completely takes over. Long story short, I agreed to try potato in the next week, and then mentally shut down and disassociated completely. An hour and some meds later, I calmed back down and I stand by everything I want to achieve. I'm not quite ready to gain weight, but I'm definitely ready to increase my intake, stop losing weight, and try what I've deemed a 'Gateway Carb'- the humble potato. The humble potato is becoming symbolic. It's the Marijuana of the world of carbohydrates, leading me onto hardcore carbs... watch this space, I'll maybe one day face, dun dun dun, pasta.

Well, group is all but over and so I'm going to have to leave this mess of an entry. Time for a cheeky fag and a nap, I think. It's a hardknock life.

Saturday, 8 June 2013

Take me away.

I never much want to be here. It doesn't matter how nice a hospital is (and this one isn't all that lovely), or how nice your fellow patients are (and these ones are especially lovely) or how much the treatment is needed (and I think we can all agree this is pretty damn necessary an admission), I don't think anyone much wants to be in a hospital, especially when they're there out of force. A hospital is a hospital and locked doors are locked doors. This last week though, I've wanted to be here even less. I'd usually beg you to take me anywhere, but right now I desperately just want to be back in Essex, getting ready for the uni's Summer Ball tonight. I want to be celebrating my graduation, with my best friends, and feeling giddy over the end of exams. I want to excitedly fear a bright future, not be sitting wondering if I'll have any sort of future, or at what point I'll re-emerge into the world and what my place will be. Will the place be back into the revolving psychiatric hospital door, or will it be as an uneducated adult, with no work experience in the last few years? This week should have been the best one since my first Freshers Week.

My best friend had a baby at the start of our second year of uni, and completed the end of her studies this week. Had you told either of us, at Freshers, that at the point of graduation that this is where we'd be- her with a toddler and me in a long-term psych hospital- I wonder at our reactions. Disbelief? Maybe at her situation, but with some soul-searching, probably not at mine. I wonder at what point this became an inevitable, maybe even fated, turn for myself. Are we going right back to the first time I was coerced into a sex act? The first time I sat in my infant school comparing my thighs with the other girls'? The first time my fingers went down my throat? The first time the blade went over my skin? The first time I didn't eat for a day? The first time I was tube-fed? The first time...? There have been a lot of firsts, I suppose, but what of the points that all of the above became second nature? Is it when all those firsts just became, well, life?

I don't mean to sound self pitying, and I suppose it's obvious, but this really was not how my life was supposed to go. I was bright. I never expected that I'd be left behind, educationally and in every other sense, and on anti-psychotics, anti-depressants, anti-anxieties and a tonne of supplements to try and aggrandise my terrible diet. I definitely didn't expect that I spend the afternoon of my final Summer Ball slightly disconnected through extra Diazepam and Haloperadol.

I'm really sorry, I mostly try to be as positive as I can, both on here and in real life, but this is all I can do and be today, and that has to be ok. I have to be ok. I will be ok. I just really miss the dream.

Saturday, 1 June 2013

Sunshine and scars.

The power of a bit of sunshine is not to be underestimated. I think, really, I just was not made for Britain and her weather. I mean, alright, I'm so fair skinned that I make freshly fallen snow look grubby, and half my face is covered in freckles (it's quite ridiculous, the left side of my face is so covered in freckles that they're almost at the point of joining together to make me look tanned. The right side has put in a grade U effort to keep up and has a coupla token bits of pigmentation), but the general lack of sunlight makes me mardy as owt. Apparently, this has been the coldest spring for about a trillion years, and it's also been the worst spring for my mental state for about a trillion years, too. Like how I'm conveniently skating over the fact that it's now June, and I haven't had more than a few hours outside of hospital since last December, and the effect of that on my mental health? Shhh, let me talk about sunlight and blame the lack of it, ok?

Warm weather makes me panic, a little, though. It means not being able to hide my recently cultivated fat behind big jumpers, and it means having my self-harm scars out. I don't really mind having my scars out in hospital- my friends here understand better than anybody, the horrible things I have done to my shell, and what they mean to me. We all have different relationships to our scars, and I, arrogantly perhaps, think that I have one of the healthier attitudes. I'll neither go out of my way to display nor hide them, because they're no different, to me, to Chickenpox scars or the bruises left from dialysis, or, God, the spots on a leopard. They are what they are. They're not pretty, but neither are they ugly. They represent my survival, because had I not done the actions that created them, I'd very probably not be sitting here, tapping away, but they also, more superficially, show the pain I have gone through. Having all that pain out there kind of makes you vulnerable, maybe it looks as if you have a mental deficiency or weakness, I don't know. To me though, whilst the pain is self-evident, they will always, even when they're faded, white, and barely visible on my pale skin, be a sign of that survival. Only living skin scars; I am alive. I am alive and the scar tissue is deep and protective- it both shows my life force and strength, and puts it into context. I AM ALIVE.

Whilst I'm not ashamed of my scars, I know how society views self-harm. I sometimes feel like I'm being backed into a corner of shame, like that's the way people think I ought to feel. It's quite a self-centered thought, because I think it's far more likely people's eyes are drawn to the protective marks and then are drawn back to the offers on hair-dye in the local supermarket. Still though, there are always the glances and there are always people who will think that they should be covered, in shame and clothing, no matter what the weather. You know me though, I don't believe in hiding.

I am more careful with open wounds, though. You have to understand the difference between ambivalence to people seeing or not seeing my scars and the trend that exists of taking pictures of recent self harm, to be displayed on the internet. That, I don't like. That... that's for competition and I just can't verbalise how that gets to me. I'm more careful in covering open wounds (not that I have any right now- 3 and a half months gone since I hurt myself in a non ED way, waaahey :)), because I know how they can be triggering to others, and they make me feel a bit too vulnerable- like I'm being watched in a kind of I Know What You Did Last Summer sort of a way. But anyway, it shouldn't be about pride of what you've done to yourself, how you've harmed yourself; it should be pride that you're a survivor and indifference to society's judgment. I wish that I hadn't felt that I had to do the things that created the scars, but I don't regret the actions themselves, apart from when I look at the blemish-free skin of others. I look at my beautiful 11 year old cousin's hands, for example, and wish I was an artist so that I could paint them. How beautiful the fact is that they've never been down her throat, nor used to take out her anguish on her body.

Despite all this, I love the sunshine. It makes me happy. When you shut your eyes, in the sun, you could be any, beautiful, place. I know you can do that any time, but everything is more beautiful in the sun. Maybe even me, too.