Edit- this was written at the end of June, but I'm just getting around to typing it up. Thank you for your patience.
I'm gonna be blunt, like always.
I'm writing this in a notebook in a psych ward, inpatient stay #5.
3rd one in two months.
Ironically, our blog starts got "oh lord this isn't sensitive stomach" sick in February 2016, when I titrated/cold turkey/do-not-do-what-I-did off my only psychiatric medication. I've posted how I lost far too much weight in far too little time and my life revolved around which foods were safe and which were not. A Lyme misdiagnosis. Flying halfway across the country to figure out why I am chronically nauseous, which led to a much bigger diagnosis that would affect much more than I expected. I was so focused on finding my answers and getting back to my "plan", that I didn't even consider how they would impact my life.
I don't think I ever got my mental health properly addressed after February. I think my weight loss was, in part, unconscious self-medication. And when my brain was properly re-nourished and correct diagnoses reached, the realization that my mental and physical conditions are here for life set in. They will continue to wax and wane.
First I had to process everything. Not just the year of hell, but everything I've been running from since I was fifteen.
I felt like I was watching everything I had worked for fall apart. Hiding my panic attacks and disassociative events became more difficult. I had moments when my emotions would relive certain events, sometimes so intensely I would forget who I was talking to or texting.
I knew where I was going with my life. Everyone praised me for my achievements and aspirations, "especially for someone like you".
I had one of my worst mental health days that I've ever had. Going back to school became one of my biggest triggers. I couldn't put the past back down after I I finally decided to process it.
I don't remember much of freshman year. I had two weeks of sophomore year. My year at home was all about getting back to what I thought I needed. Yet the mention of actually starting my college experience terrified me, I saw pictures on Facebook or Instagram of that beautiful campus and it's an overwhelming wave of intense panic. I know the place, I can remember walking that campus, laughing with friends, but my only feelings of returning to college life are disparingly out of control and vulnerable in a very bad way.
This might sound like a tangent, but bear with me. Your needs are not necessarily the same as your wants.
You can desperately want something, construct all your time and energy and emotions around it. You want it so desperately because that's what you felt like you should be (and that pressure isn't always external).
I thought that I needed to go back to school. I thought I needed that caffeine-and-stress induced study sessions at 2am, and being so tired from staying out late that you forget to put makeup on for your 10am class and you might still be hungover. I desperately need to prove to myself that I'm worth something. I think all of us have a little bit of that inside us. I thought my way of proving it was to do everything a stereotypical upper class, privileged, illness free teen would do and more. Go to college, fail a few classes because you're making memories late when you should be studying, graduate on time anyways, get a job you love, marry, have kids, become that family in the grocery store with the kids being kids and Mom with messy hair.
That was my dream. Exactly to that schedule.
I thought my diagnoses would make that easier, not more complicated. Then I thought maybe I could find where I went wrong in the past and fix it. Running over every trauma again and again, intensifying flashbacks, sometimes deliberately triggering them, spiraling harder and harder because I couldn't find that one thing that would tell me where it all went wrong. What did I do wrong?
I've learned in the past month that the people worth keeping around are the ones who tell you what you need to hear, not what you want to hear.
I needed to let go of the past, let go of what I thought a "successful me" looked like. There are so many different ways for be to be successful. And right now, a successful me means journaling and calling late at night because you're so afraid and need to hear the voice of someone you love, crying harder when they tell you it's going to be okay. It's new faces and endless worksheets and "if I hear 'useful coping tool' one more time I might scream". Feeling rather than suppressing. Falling apart in front of others even though it means feeling their pain of watching you as well as your own. Learning how to let go of that extra pain and feeling safe to let others see your intense emotions because you have a right to take up space and oxygen on this planet.
It may not be what I want, but it's what I need.
Footnote- we may be quiet throughout the winter, as Megan (the author of this post) is currently living in a residential facility. But we will be back, strong as ever. Lots of love :)
I'm busy working on my blog posts. Watch this space!