Change for the better
For the first time in four years, I can say that I have not been a patient in any kind of psychiatric ward or hospital for a whole twelve months!
That’s twelve months of waking up in my own bed instead of on an uncomfortable NHS mattress covered in a tired white sheet and threadbare blanket, twelve months of having my own shower and not having to ask for towels or be watched as I wash, twelve months of cooking and eating my own food instead of making do with what I’m given, and best of all, twelve months of having my dog by my side 24/7 rather than seeing her for a snatched ten minutes off the ward here or a short walk there.
I have got used to living back on my own now but I still don’t take these things for granted. Sometimes I may get lonely and wish that I had the company of others but then I am reminded of the chaos and stress of the wards and how difficult it was to live amongst all that. Yes, sometimes I could do with company but not in the way being in hospital creates.
I am proud of my achievement. No one thought when I was Sectioned two years ago that I would leave the hospital alive and yet, here I am - not only alive but off my Section and what’s more, living back independently and successfully in my own environment. Things can change but ultimately, as I’ve said before, only if you want them to.
In the past year I have worked hard to keep myself as well as I can do. I accept that the way I am put together (be that the responsibility of nature or nurture) means that I will always react differently to most people. I will always be extra sensitive to situations, feel emotions far more strongly than others and experience rapid changes in my mood. However, I have now realised that I can manage those reactions and make life easier than it otherwise would be.
I have learnt to sit with my emotions until they pass rather than acting on them straight away, I have learnt that some battles just aren’t worth fighting and I have learnt that other people’s actions needn’t influence my own - I am the most important character in my story, no one else.
But as well as developing my own skills, I have put a lot of energy into helping others. I started this blog as a means to connect with people in a similar situation to mine - people who may have lost hope or feel isolated in their struggles. I have also done a lot of public speaking by way of conferences, talks at my local Samaritans and delivering anti-stigma training to mental health staff across the county. I have launched a petition and started a campaign to get a local personality disorder service, which now has support of over 1000 people. I have made my case to the local MP and Clinical Commissioning Group and now sit on a newly developed personality disorder strategy group alongside commissioners, mental health professionals and representatives from the voluntary sector. I have also advised on strategies for the local Crisis teams.
I have made a difference.
I am not saying all this in order to get praise or admiration but because it is still so difficult for me to see on my darker days, just how far I have come and what a positive impact I do have in the world.
I am somewhat reticent to celebrate my successes because I know that things could change at any moment and become more difficult again. I am by no means saying that I am fixed and will never feel as bad as I have once more. However, 12 months free of admissions when I have spent over two and a half years of my adult life hospitalised is a milestone and so too is the work I have done for others in this time.
For the first time in a long while, I can look ahead to the next twelve months and think about what I want from it. How I want to develop a career, meet new people, do things that I enjoy. All of that is scary as by nature of my EUPD I’m not sure of my own identity but how exciting it is to think I can explore that rather than having to merely survive in a hospital environment.
I hate change...but sometimes it can be great!