For a lot of people, particularly within local mental health services and the hospitals I was a patient in, I've become more of an idea than a person. Hell, for a lot of people who only sort of know me, I'm the stories people tell, rather than the person I am. I'm the success story; I'm the person who proves that recovery is possible; I'm the person that's rewarding to work with. Not because I'm particularly special, but because I seem to have returned from some sort of living death and a lot of people can claim (and mostly deservedly so) input into that. They tell me that I'm the one they tell people who are just starting their recovery journeys about. And they think that that's going to be nice to hear.
But it's not.
Don't get me wrong, I do honestly get it. I used to search for success stories to encourage myself forward and I ate up all sorts of tales about recovery. Anything to inject me with a dose of hope. I was always waiting for some sort of epiphany, for everything to suddenly make sense. I remember once seeing a made-for-TV film about two friends, one with anorexia and the other with bulimia. All manner of dramatic and fast things happened (don't get me started on how quickly Hollywood EDs progress and how quickly people get help), and then one night one of them had this massively dramatic breakdown where she screamed that she didn't want to die, and then quickly recovered. I never had that moment. Nobody really has that moment.
I think, though, in or way or another, everybody searches for that moment. Everybody wants to believe that it can all turn around instantly. Everybody wants to believe in stories like mine. On paper, you only have to look at my history of hospital admissions and yadda yadda yadda and see that it's been well over a year since I last was in and blah blah blah. You can flick through my facebook photos are see me doing fun things and looking healthy. It's all out there.
Nobody is looking for the silence though. People don't realise that my fear over getting ill again and letting everybody down is literally making me ill. I feel under so much pressure and I'm so beyond stressed. When they tell people about me, nobody speaks about how I lay awake at night worrying about what effect me struggling would have on the morale of services and social media friends and people who sort of know me. Things are not unicorns and rainbows. I'm having a really hard time working out how much I can tell different people about how I'm feeling, judged by how invested they are in my being a success. It's exhausting.
People don't seem to understand that I never wanted to be the poster child for anything. I sort of fell into public speaking and I loved it. I still do. To a degree, it is all my fault. But I only wanted, selfish as it sounds, to speak for myself. I don't want to be a mouthpiece, I don't want to an example, I don't want to be a 'I once knew this girl...' type of a girl.
I just want to be a person. I'm not a success story. Today it took me 3 hours to convince myself to have my first shower in 5 days. Tomorrow might be better. I'm tired.