Second Chances

About a month ago I was arrested on a Section 136 by the police for my own safety (or whatever they say it is for), taken to a ‘Place of Safety Assessment Unit (PSAU) at the local mental health unit, and then placed onto a Section 2.

The idea of a voluntary admission had been raised that morning, but I was absolutely done with hospital, or to be frank, believing anything was going to change how I felt. I just remember feeling like it was it. That nothing was going to help. That whether I wanted it to be the case or not, I was done.

Fast forward to now and there are two sentences in my mind, and while they contradict each other completely, they are both as true as each other.

  1. Everything has changed since that day
  2. Nothing has changed since that day

I scraped my way out of a Section 3 in less than 24 hours after my discharge, when the police once again put me on a Section 136. I felt not a lot different on leaving the ward, and in many ways I still don’t.

But then… in some ways I do. I have moments where I feel so much better, it is almost unbelievable. And other moments where I feel the same, or perhaps even worse – and this is an extremely confusing place to be in; especially when sometimes I feel better and worse at the same time.

The biggest thing I have noticed in terms of positive changes, is that I have applied for two jobs, and been offered an interview for one. I just would not have applied a month ago, and irrespective of my chances of actually getting said job, it feels like such a huge step forward to even be trying.

But of course, my brain is my brain and it is doing it’s usual brain stuff. I am torn between two people, two lives. The ‘I want it all’ person, the determined, happy, positive me. The me that believes in everything, who wants to thrive. Who sits and cries because I am just so overwhelmed by the support I receive, and the journey I have taken (gosh, that is awfully cheesy for me!) The me where I just want to spread happiness. Where I enjoy the simplest of things and appreciate even just breathing.

And then there’s the other side; I don’t want anything. I want to give up. There is no point, no hope. I am done.

Writing about what that part feels like is difficult. It makes me feel vulnerable. All I can manage to say is that I end up taking extra medication to keep me asleep, or I lay on my bedroom  floor for hours. I have hours that disappear, like I have been laid there and left my body. Then hours where I am flicking between crying, frustration at myself, and sudden plans in my head that I think are solutions, but involve things I do not really want to do (things which will not really help). Sometimes I do the things I do not want to do.

Like I said, sometimes I feel just one way or the other, other times I feel like both of these people at once. Sometimes I cry because I think I am about to give up, and I am upset because of everything I stand to lose in doing so. I cry at the life I wouldn’t get to live, the people I would hurt, and the hope I would shatter. I cry for all of the things I won’t get to do; and yet feel like no matter how much I want to fight, I cannot.

This is very honest for me – but it feels important for people to know that they are not alone in battling between two selves. I know many times professionals may state that the “real” you is the one who is positive. I would not say that (and neither would other professionals). Both are real. Both are very real. But that is the point – as real as the part of you is that wants to give up, so is the part of you that wants to fight.

I guess while we still have both parts of us there, we have to continue and see where our journeys lead. You can always give up; giving up is not something that is a one time only offer. But, when you do truly give up once and for all, fighting will never be an option again.

My friend died after years upon years of fighting with BPD and Anorexia Nervosa. I wish so badly that I could rewind to that day, and do something to give her another chance to try again. I am not keen on using the word ‘chance’, because chances are generally given when we have done something wrong, but I am sure you will get what I mean.

I was dragged to a morning meeting once in hospital last year. I missed them every day, but on this one day a nurse bribed me into it, saying she would only let me go out for my walk if I attended, so I did. They went around in the circle and asked everyone what they were grateful for today. I said “second chances”. The context was different – I had done something the day before that would have given the staff reason to take my leave off me, but they had taken the time to understand the situation, and not just used a blanket rule of automatically taking away said leave; I got my walk.

I have had lots of what you could call “second chances”. Sometimes I have given them to myself, and sometimes by the amazing friends and professionals in my life who have helped me when I could not help myself.

I do not know that if I went back in time, and helped my friend survive that day…I do not know if she would have still ended up in the situation she did. But, I do know that if she had the right support to get through to another day, things may have changed for her; she may be sat here right now glad to be alive. She did not get that chance.

I really hope that for as long as I truly want them, I keep getting chances to try. To try, and try, and try again. But I also understand the realities of mental illness, and that all we can do is fight, make the most of the time we do have, and really… our destiny is in our hands, and what we want to do, or not do, is fundamentally our choice; our right.

And all you can do is take things a day at a time.

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