Being proud is allowed
I have never been one to have pride in what I have achieved - what happens, happens and there is always room for improvement. However, this week, I am feeling a degree of self-respect.
At the very beginning of the week I had a hugely upsetting and difficult session of EMDR which triggered all kinds of chaos and crisis in me. Life literally became an exercise in getting through the next minute and that night seemed interminably long.
I became aware that due to my progress and huge steps towards recovery in recent months, as well as my campaigning and role as an ‘expert by experience’, I feel a lot of pressure to present as ‘ok’ all the time - I don’t want to let people down or be seen as a failure for taking a backwards step. That made reaching out for help when I knew I had hit crisis point incredibly difficult. Nevertheless, I knew I had to - if I have learnt anything about recovery over the last year it is that sometimes it has to come before everything else. So, I did it. Step one towards self-respect.
After being supported throughout the night, on Tuesday I had a visit to our neighbouring county’s Complex Needs service. The meeting had been set up months ago and was important, not only as research to help my campaign to get some kind of service here but also to me personally as I really wanted to see it through. So, having had barely 2 hours sleep, I met the two professionals who were accompanying me and went. However, even this was different to how I would have reacted in the past. Yes ok, I still pushed myself to be ‘ok’ enough to go but I was honest enough to let the others know how difficult things were and how much I was struggling. I wouldn’t have contemplated doing this a few months ago but it immediately took some of the pressure away.
The meeting was extremely helpful and informative and I returned from it feeling more positive in addition to exhausted.
After another tough night, I took the following day as a self-care day and tried to catch up on some sleep amidst all the intrusive thoughts and dark feelings. The support from services was still in place and between us I managed to keep myself safe and contained. No mean feat considering how dire I was feeling.
In typical EUPD fashion, by Thursday, the darkness had suddenly begun to shift and I managed to make it to my peer volunteer training course that I have missed for the past two weeks. I can’t say that I was feeling 100% by any means but it never fails to amaze me how such intense, overwhelming emotions can fade almost as fast as they appear with this mental illness.
Friday was a very important day. I had been invited to attend and speak about my own experiences at a personality disorder strategy meeting organised by the local Clinical Commissioning Group. At the beginning of the week I couldn’t even envisage attending let alone presenting at it but with a lot of grit and determination I was in fact able to do both. And it was worth it despite my anxiety on the day - the meeting was really positive and productive and my input as someone with lived experience was greatly appreciated amongst the 15 professionals present. I think everyone left feeling upbeat and hopeful that this was the first of many meetings towards getting some kind of personality disorder provision in the county, which is exactly what I have been striving for. It’s going to be a long and no doubt bumpy road ahead but we have made a start, which is how all good things begin after all!
In essence, this week has shown me how strong I am, how I can carry on through adversity and come out the other side. But more than that, it has shown me how resourceful I can be when the need is there - I am resilient and I can drag myself back from despair and desperation but I can also ask for help and let others in too.
Achieving everything I have done these past few days, still fighting for a better future for others when I have not been able to see my own future, is awesome but pulling myself back from crisis point in a safe and controlled way whilst doing it is perhaps more important. I have a new found respect in myself for that.