So much can change in a year. If you told me one year ago I’d be where I am now I would have laughed in your face hysterically, until the hysterical laughter became hysterical tears, because the idea of thinking one year ahead was too much to handle. I have had countless ups and downs in my mental health: the lowest was a year ago but it seems that since then I’ve been on a gradual incline.
I still haven’t completely worked out what drove me to take a concoction of pills, including those prescribed to me for depression and anxiety, wash it down with a bit of alcohol and end up in the French A&E(I was on my Year Abroad) with no idea what was going on. I remember feeling so angry and confused and helpless. I felt sheer desperation and somehow I thought the only way to make it go away would be to do something so drastic, but I wasn’t thinking any of this at the time. I think I dissociated: I don’t remember knowing what I was doing or understanding the consequences of my actions. I felt like I had completely lost control and all I could do to fix it was to harm myself in some way. At the hospital the psychiatrists wanted to keep me in for a few days for observation, but I pleaded with them to let me leave; the ward wasn’t conducive to mental health rehabilitation, despite it being (or I’m pretty sure it was) a short-term ward for mental health. I had an IV in my arm, I didn’t have a pillow (?!) and I didn’t understand what the doctors and nurses were saying to me. It was easily the most traumatic experience of my life.
I spent a month at home in the Lake District over Easter, before I felt able to go back to France. Unfortunately,whilst I was at home a personal relationship suffered.I found out I’d been lied to by somebody close to me for months and my entire perception of a person I thought would always be there for me was shattered and I felt like I could never come back from it. Having Borderline Personality Disorder made this extremely difficult to deal with and I’ve never hated as much as I hated then. I thought it would be impossible to forgive, I was humiliated and when I thought about how I perceived I’d been treated by this person I physically wanted to rip my skin apart. I also felt an extreme amount of guilt, something which I still struggle with sometimes, and I was embarrassed. I felt like a failure. I’d failed my Year Abroad. I’d failed myself, my family, my friends. I have never felt more depressed. I was so emotionally unstable I remember thinking to myself if I would ever be able to be in control of my own medication again. I didn’t trust myself around my pills and the thoughts in the dark recesses of my mind scared me. I was at a complete rock bottom; thinking back on this time still makes my chest tighten and not a day goes by without me thinking about this night and all that followed, but I’ve learned tolive with the fear that it could happen again.
But as I said, so much can change in a year. Yes, I failed my Year Abroad but I just had to write an essay and I was through to final year. It really isn’t a big deal to me now. I stopped taking my anti-depressants a couple of months ago (although the Dr doesn’t know this yet…) and I’m doing ok without them. Final year isn’t without its pressures but I’ve learnt a lot about myself. I no longer prioritise anything above my own health and wellbeing. If I need to take a mental health day, I will take a mental health day. I’ve learnt how to forgive, and I have forgiven: I understand why I was lied to and I no longer harbour negative feelings towards people who do me wrong, no matter in what capacity. Releasing that hatred and anger was one of the hardest steps to recovering from what happened, but I feel so much better that I’ve been able to do it. And I run, a lot. Raising over £700 for Sane, a mental health charity, last summer with my sister when we did the Leeds 10K gave me something to be proud of. Running gives me a way to work out my emotions in a healthy way instead of harming myself and ending up in hospital. I’m doing the Leeds Half Marathon in May, and I can’t wait for the sense of achievement I will get when I cross the finish line.
I know I have such a long way to go; I deal with a lot of anxiety and occasionally still suffer from panic attacks. There are still days when I wake up and all I want to do is cry and as I have Borderline Personality Disorder I struggle to regulate my emotions on a daily basis, but I am coping. I’m learning how to manage the instability of my mood, and I’m doing it without therapy which I am so proud of myself for doing. I’ve had a few blunders but I’m also managing to maintain close personal relationships and not allowing the symptoms of BPD to flare up and ruin them. I’m taking what has happened to me and using it to my advantage. I found that I honestly have the best friends, so caring and supportive and I will never stop being grateful for the ways they helped me get back on my feet- and help to keep me there! I also realised I have such strength and courage myself, and although I still need to be reminded of this every so often, I think to myself ‘If I can survive a night in a French A&E then I can survive anything”. And it’s true. I can. And so can you.