Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Very Big and Extremely Scary.

Today is Day One. Every day is Day One, I suppose, or at least has the potential to be one. The first day of a non-smoking scheme (never for me, mind. I'm a terrible example- I really do love a good fag), the first day of a new job, a health kick, a relationship or, hell, the first day that you choose to wake up happy and extend your love inward. Oh my God, sorry, that was a bit drippy. Maybe I've had too much therapy. Excuse me and forget that- that's almost enough to lose me my British citizenship. Stiff upper lip, pip-pip, old bean.

Today is Day One of my new food regime. I had a Very Big and Extremely Scary (sorry for all the capitalisations here. I swear they're all completely necessary) meeting about my eating, yesterday. It was probably a lot bigger and much less scary than my capitalisation implies. I walked in from a cig- terrible example, see?- and into a meeting with my psychiatrist, doctor, occupational therapist, nurse, social worker, dietitian and Ginge. In the course of the meeting, the head chef (a role that sounds far more grand than it actually is, I'm sure) and the ward manager also joined the fun. I don't like talking about food with one person, never mind the 79 of them in the room. It actually really just ended up with my psych having a go at the staff and me demanding credit for the fact I've gone from quite a dangerously low weight a few months ago to the borderline healthy one I'm now at (thank-you, thank-you, I'm very definitely bowing).

I told them I needed to be remembered at mealtimes, rather than me being missed and my Anorexia being fed. I told them the types of food I'm eating and the portion sizes need to be normalised. In short, yanno, I just told them to do their job. I mean, right fair, they do have their strengths here. Just turns out, feeding people with EDs isn't one of them.

And so today was Day One of the Brand New Very Big and Extremely Scary new plan. And it's gone... well, it's gone. Dinner went ok, but then the stress caused a flashback. Not exactly the desired outcome. It turns out I'd forgotten how feeling like I'm being forced to eat makes me feel a bit violated. I dunno. It's messy. And so that was midday, so what about tea?

The grand tradition of this place, tea was forgotten. Oh, it'd be laughable, it really would, if this wasn't my life.

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

I hear voices (or, The Pub Choristers).

As a general rule, my head is the only thing louder than my dress sense. I think if you know me, that doesn't need much context (my favourite colours are glitter and flowers), but if you don't, just count your eyeballs lucky that they've not been subjected to it. My head has been louder today than the sum of everything I've ever worn- including those brilliantly stylish '90s years I spent in floral cycling shorts. Actually, my '90s wardrobe wasn't vastly different from my 2013 one.

Anyway, off the glitter and on to the grit. I hear voices. That's actually quite a brave thing to admit... it's taken me a long time to be able to say that here. I mean, right, just as an exercise in demonstrating my bravery on that, just try to picture how you see a typical person who hears voices. What do they look like? Do they hold down a steady job? If so, are they a professional? Picture their day-to-day living. Now, honestly, I'm willing to bet you've fit a tonne of mental health stereotypes without meaning to. That's not an indictment on yourself, you must understand I'm not judging; it doesn't matter how open minded you are or aren't, it's not really about that, it's more about society, I reckon. And, I suppose the people with mental health problems that do mean they talk back to their hallucinations and can't look after their hygiene are the ones who are more obvious than those of us who look 'normal'. I've had my moments though, I'm sure there are people who have passed me at certain times and now have an image of myself, oh, maybe banging my head in a flashback, or having a psychotic episode, or a panic attack, or have even just seen me at skeletal times, and now have essence of Condron tempering their idea of a mental health patient.

You know how when you walk into a really busy pub, the kind without music but with a lot of people, kind of like a Wetherspoon's of a Saturday night, you open the doors and you're hit by a million different conversations? And as you walk through, you hear snatches, but nothing really of note, kind of like human birdsong? That's what my head often sounds like. When I'm really poorly, or I've missed my anti-psychotics, I hear more direct voices and commands, and if I'm over-tired I find it even harder to sleep because as I'm drifting off my voices start shouting my name. Generally though, when I'm struggling, The Pub Choristers, as I've dubbed the voices, just get louder and louder until I feel actually compressed and cornered by the voices of this inner pub.

Today, there's been a lot of shouting on the ward and a lot of shouting from The Pub Choristers. I'm not really great at being around shouting and the such, which is a bit bizarre given my penchant from being waaaay overly dramatic, and the louder my environment, the louder the voices. Today the patrons of my internal pub have taken words from my past, things I wish I had never heard or that I never knew, and have screamed them over the external noise. Flashbacks, over voices, over flashbacks. They're shouting abuse, calling out things from different eras and making this- amongst everything else a person does of a day; breathing and walking and talking and the such- pretty hard to write. All I've been doing since they got bad is making myself sick, really, and I'm now just trying to work out if I must have vom'd my anti-psychotic. I have a bad feeling I did. Oh, tomorrow shall be fun.

Oh, balls.

Saturday, 20 July 2013

Low-risk to high-risk.

What a week it's been. How much can really change in a week? In hospital, a lot. I've gone from a level when I'm checked on once an hour (good ol' 'hourlies' as they're known here), to being checked on every 5 minutes (originally known as 'fives'- God, we're a creative bunch). That's, in a week, going from low risk to high, with a temporary stop over in the middle land. I can't even express how annoying being checked on so much is. They're not even REALLY fives, it depends really on how bored the staff are, as to how often you're really checked. Yesterday, seriously, the woman doing checks must have been bored as owt 'cause during an eight minute conversation (I say conversation, it was mostly me wailing down the awful signal we get here. It must have been oh-so totally comprehensible) with my mum, I was checked on four times. With two minutes between checks, you can't even use the loo in peace.

It's most intrusive at night- a light going on every five minutes does not a good night's sleep allow. Being on fives brings even bigger consequences than just being intrusive and irritating. In the week, it means being locked out of your room between 9 and 5, at the weekend, it's between 11 and 5. It's more or less the worst thing that could be done to me when I'm struggling and need time alone and I'm dreading the time getting to then.

I have gone backwards, mentally; that, I'll acknowledge. But every attempt made by the staff to safeguard me has just triggered me off and made me fall even further back. It's all very and extremely ridiculous, really. The graduation thing really affected me; I'm restricting my intake, my mood is low and I'm altogether fed up. I've lost all my leave, too, as a consequence, and so I'm stuck in these four walls. Nobody is going to do well when their whole world consists of two corridors. But apart from an hour last night when I was restrained because I'd disassociated and was having a flashback, which comes with my headbanging, I've not hurt myself. I told them of my plans so that I couldn't act upon them, but, bleurgh, that seems to count for naught- no matter how many times I tell them I don't lie, and wouldn't lie about my risk. I've spent more than 4 years in and out of hospital, lying to get my way out, and it's clearly got me nowhere. I'm just not interested in carrying on that way.

I know from the perspective of the staff you'd think it'd be about 'managing risk' but trust me on this- you do not go on fives just because you disassociated. That's not a rule. In the past, I haven't even gone on half hours for it. I'm struggling, but this was personal. It turns out when you call a member of staff various names (not something I'm proud of, but I'm literally obsessed with fairness and I felt he wasn't being fair. Luv dat OCD), he'll take any opportunity to get you back.

Wednesday, 17 July 2013


It's graduation week at my old haunt of The University of Essex (oh yes, Little Miss Northern over here studied down there until just over a year ago. Oh, the south. CLEANSE ME. But I digress) and oh my, is it affecting me. This is actually my third attempt at writing about it, because everything I write either sounds bitter or self-pitying, or both. I'm not bitter. I don't begrudge a single person their degree or their mental health, but I'd be lying if I said I'm not jealous, so maybe that does mean I'm self pitying. I don't know. All I know is I should be in my pyjamas, planning an early night and working out exactly how much vodka I need to be able to walk in heals (a feat I'm capable of only after a few bevvies), without being even tipsy enough to dull my senses on such a day. Instead, I'm in my pyjamas knowing that tomorrow my name will not be called, and wouldn't be even if I wasn't a few hundred miles away. I'm in my pyjamas knowing tomorrow will be yet another beige day.

Not being able to finish my degree is a source of embarrassment and anger, to me. Apart from what came down to a few weeks last year, I've now been in hospital almost a year. That's... well, that's summat, alright.

I need to stop writing, I'm getting upset and it's not like it's going to get me my degree. It's also triggering my OCD, which is really dangerous... genuinely life threatening, the forms that mine takes. This is an awful post, but I suppose it's how I feel and I can't keep typing and deleting, over and over. End. Fin.

Wednesday, 10 July 2013


My life right now is beige. Nobody loves or hates beige, it's just one of those colours nobody much thinks about until they reach their sixties and get all conformist and dress in varies shades of the colour. I'm being pushed towards that eventuality forty years too bloody early. Not in the sense that people make me dress in a way that would camouflage me against the walls of a new build, but in the sense that I'm in an endless beige  tunnel with no apparent light at the end. Beige is, well, beige. It's fine, it's safe, it's inoffensive, it's not thrilling, it's not exciting, it's not interesting. Beige just isn't me. I think I'm maybe the colour at the centre of a flame.

I've gone backwards over the last few weeks; the beige is starting to choke and drown me and I feel like everything that makes me, well, me is being smothered out of me by this achingly beige existence. I knew I had gone backwards this fortnight, and when my psychiatrist brought in up in my ward round yesterday, it sort of made me relieved. I'm not one to shout and scream when I'm struggling. In fact, I'm far more likely to sit in a corner, rocking, if we're really going to use mental health stereotypes. But anyway, it's taken them a long time, given I've been here five months now, but maybe they're finally working out that I'm a bloody great actress, and when I'm too tired to fake being perky, I just hide myself away, rather than let other people see me as I am. I'm tired and I'm bored.

Being bored sounds pathetic, but you really don't know boredom though until you're living in a place where every day is planned out by somebody other than yourself, every day the same- the same routine, the same scheduled smokes, the same people, even the same arguments and drama. That's nothing against the women I'm here with, I love my girls. But it's just the life, the lack of spontaneity and freedom. I know education sometimes feels like that, but it just doesn't compare. Here, there are no adventures- planned or not- or even impromptu trips out, to celebrate a sunny day or life in general. There's no suddenly deciding to go out- leave you've been allowed must be set out at the start of the day- even if just to the corner shop for a paper. There's just no flicker of excitement and no way to create it.

Having no way to channel my usual need for constant movement is making me fixate on various ways to hurt myself, as if that would create excitement. I'm not going to, don't worry; it wouldn't do as I think, in my darkest hours, I know, but it would be something just a little bit... different, I suppose. It's a terrible way to think and it's making my eating suffer, too. God, I just need a holiday from the beige. Even just a bit of yellow.

(Sorry this is so whingy, I'm just proper struggling right now).

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

An open letter to my body.

Dear Body,
You are beautiful. You truly are. I don’t tell you that enough; in fact, I spend my life telling you the opposite. You are like the most incredibly complicated computer, far more advanced than my own conscious mind could even really care to understand, contained in the most demanded of luxury cars, one with engineering far more delicate than could be created with my own, cumbersome, limbs. All that technological finesse, mine for the use, ought to be truly appreciated and well maintained, my most prized possession. You ought to be the ideal to which all else on my life is compared, the platonic beauty, not something to be viewed as lacking. You perform the most graceful of acts, organs so well oiled and synced, whilst simultaneously tripping over your feet; completing always the other great paradox of constant renewal, whilst maintaining everything that I may or may not be- brand new, always changing, 22 years spent. You’re not perfect; you will never dance with any rhythm, nor will you sing in tune, nor manage to go a day with tripping up. But you will dance, sing and skip along, nonetheless, and I (maybe you are the shell and, I don’t know, my soul, is the real essence of what I am- I don’t know what I am, in any sense) thank you most entirely for that.

Dear Eyes,
You've shown me some divine and astounding things, disasters and horrors, love and life. Bodies right at the start of their lives and those coming to the end. I wish for you that you could have had only the best to have seen and relayed to me, but that wouldn't be life and sight is a gift I appreciate, especially since mine seems to be failing. I wish you'd only see what is really there, not the horrors that have been there before, the endless flashbacks that rattle through my hollow bones. I wish between you and my brain, you could let me see myself outside of Anorexia's distortions. I wish, I wish, I wish. I wish I'd never forget how blessed I am by your bespectacled, blue hued, ever-seeing and searching goodness.

Dear Mouth,
My hands should never have once been jammed into your cavern, never mind with the regularity of which they are. The ferocity of the abuse I commit to my body often begins with you- to enter something into my mouth, or not. To vomit, or not. To... well, you know the score, Mouth. It's not you, it's me... sorry, I couldn't resist, but it's true. I'm not sure what my issue is with you, there's just something scary about an entrance, I suppose, when you've feared for most of your life what is around the corner, who or what lies beyond a doorway. I'm sorry. Thank you for being the vehicle through which I primarily express myself, and for allowing yourself to be the exit of so many of my vocalised demons. That's not to say our relationship is purely serious; thank you to for allowing all the laughs and the mix ups and for the ability to screech and giggle. Thank you for allowing me the taste of love.

Dear Hands,
I could never express my gratitude to you in a way that really... I'm even struggling to express how I can't express. Just... thank-you. Also, you're very petite and cute.

PS. Sorry for all the scars and callouses from my teeth and for making you do not very sanitary things.

Dear Stomach,
I think it's you who have had it the worst. Whenever something bad happens, whether it be based in external or internal forces, it's you who has suffered the ramifications. Be it everlasting emptiness, or a fullness as far from satisfaction as a goat is from a slug, or a waterfall of ill-advised and over-dosed medications, it's you who have had paid the price. Retching long into the night, screams seeming to come from your core rather than my throat, always so much blood... it's you who have faced the physical attack nearest to the war fought by my mind. You'd think I'd be more protective of you, when I know myself how draining always being on the front-line is. I'm sorry, and thank-you for not having given up on me.

Dear Thighs,
I'm sorry I can't look at you guys without crying. All you do is try to keep me as upright as possible, as well as putting up with always being covered in bruises from all my throwing this body about, attempting feats not possible in this particular, beautiful, body. I wish I could offer you some sort of promise or placation, but really, I just... I suppose I can't handle you, and I'm sorry. I desperately want to love you, but right now, all I can do is promise to try all I can not to hurt you anymore.

All the love I can give you right now, and a promise that I'll work all I can to being able to give you so much more in the future,

Becs <3 o:p="">