Thursday, 26 February 2015

Public fear, public fearless.

I am exhausted. I have a bit of a mild case of agoraphobia, which I'd thought I'd sorted, but it turns out that being back in Scunthorpe, much as I love the shit-hole, has brought it all back. If it's planned and I'm with someone I trust, I can just about make it out. Otherwise, I'm a bit buggered. I'm not even sure what I'm scared of. I'll stand locking and unlocking the door from inside, before a wave of nausea, crippling anxiety and exhaustion sweeps over me. It's odd, because I can stand in front of a room of people and tell them my life story (right down, even, to my abuse), but I can't walk around the block. I can stand there and talk, just don't make me get my own way there, like. I'm pretty fearless- ahem. Apart from snakes, the sea, dogs, Disaronno, milk, silence, the smell of lavender, calories, teenagers. Ahem- but I'm a nightmare right now. The effort of going out, when I do make it, wipes me out to the point I've started taking nana naps after a trip to the supermarket with Ginge. The mind can do some shitty things to a girl.

Going back to speaking in front of people, I know I've written before about the presentations, conferences and groups that I do, but fuck it- it's my blog. On Monday, before I came home, I presented at Huddersfield uni. The hospital staff were actually a bit funny with me about it, because they wanted me to take the two weeks leave from hospital, but I wouldn't until after I'd presented. There are few good things about me, but I honour my commitments (the good ones, anyway) and I can drink you under the table (not that that's relevant, but sometimes you need to remember how fabulous you are). A major, major shout out goes to the students in the lecture hall that day. I always swear to myself before I present that I will answer any question to the best of my ability, and it's a blessing and a curse.  It's a blessing in that I get the opportunity to tell people what I wish people had asked years ago, whilst the trauma was still going on. It's a curse because I feel guilty about, I don't know, answering fully and perhaps negatively shocking people. If it can be negative. I mean, I know an electric shock is negative, but when it's a learning thing...?

Either way, I felt validated. I felt like I was being listened to. My biggest fear with these things is lack of two-way dialogue. I can talk for days, but I'd rather feel like I'm talking to people rather than at them. I need to tell my story, to reassure both myself and other people. I need to feel listened to and validated and safe and I need to feel empowered, because those feelings were ripped away from me, through the abuse and then all the hospital admissions. Throughout my treatment, the most effective thing for me have been these lectures. Like I said before, that was a particularly brilliant group on Monday and if any of you guys are reading this- thank you. With all my heart. Thank you for listening, for asking questions (especially the woman who asked me how it all started and the woman who shared her experience of anti-depressants). Thank you, more than anything, for the positive feedback that you emailed to your tutor, because they got passed along to me and were exactly what I needed.

I'm getting there. Shit's hard, people are great. And I'll be ok.

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Reaching out.

Just a short one- another Eating Disorder Awareness Week is upon us, kids. I have so many views on this week. My gut tells me that anything that draws eyes towards the often secretive world of the sufferer is a good thing- too little is known and too often too little is done. The idea of people sitting at home, right now, trying to disguise their symptoms from the world makes me shrivel. Please, reach out. I don't often post many of my details here, but today I'm going to. The only thing I ask is that you don't talk numbers with me. No weights, no calories. Part of it is because that type of thing is incredibly triggering and not good for anybody, and the other is that I think when we focus too much on numbers we don't focus enough on the mentality. I'm here, whether you're a friend or somebody I've never spoken to, I'm here.

On twitter, I'm @RebeccaXylo.
On facebook, I'm Rebecca Condron
And my email address is rebecca.condron@hotmail.com

My reluctance with EDAW is that sometimes it almost becomes a competition and a bit elitist. Whether or not you're diagnosed, whether or not you are at/have been at an extremely low weight, whether or not you've been on units or force fed or gone the longest with nourishment... IT. DOES. NOT. MATTER. It hurts... It hurts like hell, no matter what. Somebody will always be more ill than you, or closer to recovery. As somebody in recovery, I can tell you now- it's messy and it's personal. You're more than enough.

I'm going to do a few posts on this subject, so this is more an introduction and an urge to bring people out of the shadows. If you're not suffering but think someone you know is, you're also welcome to get in touch. If you're not ill, but are curious, even. Let's make this a week of vocalisation.

Friday, 20 February 2015

A few things NOT to be avoided.

I was going to title this 'a few things to be avoided' but as I began writing, I realised I was wrong. Take note kids; me being wrong isn't something that happens regularly. I am always right. I never bothered learning my left from right, because both of my hands are right. But I digress. I turned the original list on its head, because it's much nicer not to run from yourself. It's ok to take a rest (and it's more than ok when it's a rest from negativity).

-Looking in a mirror, unclothed (especially at night). My logic with this one being something to avoid was that I tend to look better clothed, because clothes are pretty, and I am not. But then I thought, is this the advice I would tell my beautiful best friend Alex? My gorgeous 13 year old cousin? Is this really what I would tell my child? No. And if a rule for myself doesn't apply to others, I need to knock it down. Look in the mirror. Enjoy what you see, whether it's after a day full of food, or a night full of sleep. I promise to try.

-Thinking too much about the future. Right now, I'm petrified of the future. Rejoining the world after years in hospital and entering a career for the first time. Thinking and planning is terrifying, but it's also liberating. I never planned for the future, to be honest, because I never expected to have one. To have a shot at life is glorious and fresh and raw and it kind of hurts, also. It's ok to hurt though, because that's reality. It's not something to take for granted; only the living can hurt and life, well, must be pretty good if some people spend 100-odd years bothering with it.

-Being alone. Again, there was a logic for this being part of my original list of things to avoid and it kind of goes like this... loneliness is grim. Do you know what's worse, though? No privacy or dignity. Being held down by numerous police, strip searched and put in a 'safety suit' that was 5 sizes too big and fell down every time I moved, because I had psychotic episodes and was seriously hurting myself. I didn't value myself when I had capacity and so I sure as hell didn't after I drank, for that reason, to psychosis. Learn to love your own company. Easier said than done, but it's like when life in general is a bit crap- it's better than the alternative.

-Spending half your life looking at other peoples' facebook profiles. My thinking for avoiding it was that it doesn't paint an accurate picture of the lives of others. But who cares? Use other people's successes as your own inspiration. Make your life as fabulous as your timeline.

-Various fashions that I currently abhor. Um, screw me (literally, if you want. Just kidding), do whatever the balls you like. I like the idea of my children screaming with laughter at my dodgy outfit choices, because better that than dull. At least they can have a laugh with their mates over how uncool I am/was. On that note, please stop referring to what fashion says will hide your 'flaws'. Who the hell is anybody to tell you your flaws or demand you cover them or hide them? Celebrate yourself... on that note-

-Looking and listing your flaws. Not bad advice when it was on my list of things to avoid, because who wants to bully themselves? Really, though, whether you look and list them or not, you will always feel like you have flaws. You don't have any, by the way- your body is perfect because it contains you- but I know this isn't going to change your mind, and that's cool. Look, list, love. Be comfortable. Enjoy your flaws as much as the parts you like and for every flaw you find about your physical, list at least 2 beautiful parts of you, physically or mentally.

Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Failure.

I'm going back into hospital tomorrow, after my 6 days out. It's been weird and hard and weirdly hard. I fought so hard and for so long to get out, but I never put much thought into how it'd go when once I was home alone. Big mistake. Long story short, I went a bit nut-so yesterday and my social worker got me an emergency appointment with my psychiatrist. I'm not perfect, that I know only too well. But that doesn't mean I don't expect my endeavours to be such. I like things... in boxes. And it's hard to box transition.

I don't know what I want right now. I know I want out of hospital, full stop, but I also know that 'full stop' is rarely a sensible attitude. There's a lot in that little dot, a lot of uncertainties and potential failures. I've spent most of my life feeling like a failure for one thing or another (missing a word in a  spelling test, leaving uni. And everything inbetween I can find failure in), that now I get too scared to do much in case I fail. I seize up and my brain goes empty, because I can't risk doing something I won't excel in. I haven't room in my head for any more failure. Yesterday was just one, long fail, and although today I've been so productive, I can't get it out of my head.

How does one fail recovery? It's a bloody bumpy road. As my mum told me yesterday, 'you can't climb Everest alone.' She's a wise 'un, but Everest is a challenge to anybody, whereas just being in the community really isn't. I'm determined to make it perfect, but with that attitude, I'll always fail. I  don't know whether letting go of perfection is noble or not.

All in all, it's actually been lovely to be home, especially when my mum's in. Not that her being at work is a total ballache, because it means I can be naked. That's always good. It maybe says a lot that I focus more on my 'failures' than I do on the positives, and my family have been a huge positive, this week and every week. I LOVE YOU, GUYZZZZ.

Friday, 13 February 2015

Homeeeeee.

Things are finally, finally moving. And I don't just mean my bowels (sorry). I've had arguments, ever so slight bitch fits (again, sorry) and lots of tears this week, but I'm finally on my way out of hospital. We're beginning the transition from hospital to home, which is great, but in true Rebecca Condron style, I'm expecting more and accepting less from myself. I don't know. I'm a bit teary today, I think because it's sinking in how long I've been away from the real world and either in a bubble of mental illness, or the fortress of hospital. That and I'm hormonal and got 3 hours sleep last night. Never helps.

The effect of the highs and lows of being told that I'll soon be home for good, but in the meantime will be spending weeks at a time at home, has knocked me raw. I wish to God that I could sit and tell you everything was perfect and I had no doubts, but this is really what I mean by expecting more and accepting less, I suppose. I've been in hospital for years and coming home was never going to be easy, even though I know it's the right thing at the right time. I'm too exhausted from the ups and downs to do anything, but feeling like a waste, because I'm really scared of doing nothing with my life.

I hate admitting that I'm scared. That I'm feeling really, really alone. Most of my friends, now, are in hospital because your world is so tiny when you're cosseted away, and the ones who aren't are out in graduate jobs or looking for graduate jobs and just generally doing more than watching low rate/budget kids' films.

Whoa, I just read this back. I've not even been home for 24 hours and I'm scared I'm wasting my life. Calm the fuck down, Condron, it has to all work out. Give yourself a bloody chance. Right, give me a couple of days and ask me again, how it's going (I know, I know, you didn't ask me this time). Right.

Thursday, 5 February 2015

How're you?

I absolutely completely hate stopping still. All that stuff about stopping and smelling the roses? They just smell of manure- completely overrated. I'd rather be stressed to hell about stuff I feel like I need to do, than to, well, have time to think. I'm an obsessive (no shit, right?) mess, but at least it gives me drive. Ginge has always said it's a pity I'm not OCD for cleaning, if I have to be OCD at all.

My latest little stress-head subject has been around today. It's Time to Talk day today, which is a day for sitting and engaging with other people, to begin to make mental health a subject that isn't closed away. I was stressing about spending this morning at Huddersfield Uni, catching students for a chat and wondering about how receptive people would actually be (we had tea and sweets though, so I knew that was all that really mattered. Oh, those student types). And you know what? It turned out, I spent it speaking to some really brilliant and inspiring people, sharing our stories in ways that it feels like we mustn't any other time. A lot of people take abridge to the idea of Time to Talk because every day is a struggle when you have mental health problems, but it's not about that. It's about having a safe space and time, even if it's just to send a 'hi, how're you?' message to somebody you care about.

Take the challenge, but take it any day. Spend 5 minutes talking honestly, none of this 'oh, I mustn't complain' nonsense that we Brits are so great for. Don't close the door, retreat or shut up. I'm scarred from the battle and I've lost a lot of people to it, but I'm winning the war and that's what really matters. So be nice to yourself, because it's the only way to be victorious. It's all ok. I promise.

I can't go into this as much as I wish I could right now, because my list of stresses is sky high. I'm ok though, and you will be, too. So, that said... How ARE you?