(Artwork by Zoe Shier)
A memory popped up in my head today.
I’m writing a template for my work email that gets sent out if anyone messages me. I’m on sick leave, please contact this person in my absence. At the time we were talking about two weeks, maybe three.
I didn’t end up setting it up. I was so unwell at the time that I forgot what I was doing. I was just trying to keep it together in front of my colleagues.
Had someone crouched next to me and whispered in my ear that this two weeks would end up being almost a year, I would’ve killed myself. No doubt about it.
So I guess it’s merciful at the time that I didn’t know.
Someone asked me to write about what recovery is like. I said I can’t do that. For one, that’s not how I work. I never know what any of my posts end up being until I actually write them.
Also answering the question what recovery is like would only be one sentence long.
It’s fucking horrible.
Because you carry it all with you.
The weeks and weeks I’d toss and turn unable to fall asleep for more than an hour.
Conducting an interview while worrying that blood is going to soak through my shirt because I cut too deep.
The moment I’d wake up for the final time that night, crying from exhaustion.
Slowly and terrifyingly losing everything I had worked so hard to gain.
Vomiting until I’m hollow and still retching because my body is convinced there is still something left to eject.
Arguing with psychiatrist at the hospital that the sleeping medications aren’t working.
Feeling like giving up.
Banging a rubber band for a thousandth time in my poor, bruised arm because it still doesn’t hurt enough.
Fighting against the wave that takes me so deep where nobody else can find me with pain from hurting myself, where there is no sight or sound, just death.
Having a doctor ask me why haven’t I killed myself yet.
Hitting my head against a wall so I’d finally knock myself out and be able to finally sleep.
Screaming at the top of my lungs because I’m in so much pain that I just want to die.
A psychiatrist asking me in front of a room full of medical staff why didn’t I leave my abusive boyfriend.
My so-called friends who never rang.
Planning my own death.
Answering the same questions over and over again.
My whole identity, everything that made me human falling off me like pieces of rotting flesh.
Talking to my loved ones with only myself knowing that this would be the last time I’d ever speak to them again.
A nurse who sits at the foot of my bed while I cry but doesn’t touch me.
The endless forms I have to fill and boxes to tick.
Begging the nurses to let me out so I can die.
People who are too embarrassed of my illness to even look me in the eye.
Then the others.
That first time I sleep throughout the night and can’t move for the first hour as tears of relief roll down my face.
All the nurses who come together to comfort me when I tell them my dog just died.
My friends who drive for hours just to come see me.
My parents who tell me not to be sorry because there’s nothing to forgive.
Realising that I’m good at colouring.
A temporary counsellor who gives me a card and makes me Christmas decorations out of felt.
Laughing hysterically as one of the fellow patients has adopted a beetle and tells that it’s on the obs because it has made a suicide attempt.
My friend who spends hours upon hours telling me anecdotes about his life and for a moment takes me away from the hospital bed.
Understanding that things that my boyfriend did weren’t my fault.
Finally being held by my mum.
Realising that my antidepressants are working.
My favourite nurse who comes to my room with tears in her eyes and kisses the top of my head when I made her a thank you-card.
Running into one of the people who I got to know at the ward and seeing how genuinely happy they are to see me.
The kitchen worker who always gave me an extra piece of cake.
Stirring as my mum fixes my duvet in the middle of the night on my second night home from the hospital.
Dad saying that there is nothing in this world that will ever break me because I’m his daughter.
A man on a river bank who I sat with as he cried and showed me pictures of his children.
My fingers entwined with someone’s who rushed in to see me the first moment he could.
How do you even begin to tell?