Closing one Chapter and Opening the Next

“Growth is painful, change is painful but nothing is as painful as being stuck somewhere you don’t belong”

Well I’m going to jump straight in and start with a positive. Things are looking up. Having just re-read my last blog post, I am a bit in shock and upset remembering how bad of a place I was in. I was discharged from that admission a week later and I am currently *drum roll* 3 months psychiatric hospital free and I am genuinely really proud. It hasn’t been easy at all. I went on holiday in June/July to Colombia to visit my mother’s family. We normally go every 2 years but I’d missed a holiday meaning I hadn’t been in 4 years.

Making the decision to go on this holiday was very hard. I adore my family, but I had many things to weigh up: the length of the holiday and how I would cope without professional input, the reactions of my family who would more than likely comment on how different I looked (this is in relation to weight – I’m a much higher weight than 4 years go) and the general anxiety of massive gatherings and so many people around me constantly. But I decide to go. I realised that my fears were trumped by the desire to see a huge family that loves me unconditionally. My cousins are growing up far too fast and I don’t want to miss out on that any more than I have to.

So I went and it was a success. It wasn’t without it’s challenges, but most of that was down to my own insecurities as opposed to anything done or said on their part. I have now been back from my holiday about a month and we are now about midway through August.

Right so here is the news I promised – I have decided to return to University in a last fierce attempt to compete my degree. I will go back to where I left of which is 2nd Semester of 3rd year. After that I will have one more year to do and finally be finished. It’s been a hard decision for me. Those of you who have followed this blog for a long time (and thank you so much) will know that I tried going back in 2017 and it didn’t end well. And having had time to reflect on that, I now see that in order to devote my time to becoming “student” Jenny, I have to let go of “ill” Jenny. As the two simply aren’t compatible for me.

I’m not saying that come January I won’t be mentally ill. I’m saying that come January I will *hopefully* not be cutting to the point of having to spend 4 hours at a&e for stitches or doing anything that may result in a hospital admission – sectioned or voluntary. I know I’ll slip up. I don’t do what I do, think what I think or feel how I feel out of choice. If it was a choice I’d just stop and everything would be great. But in the next 4 months I’m putting everything I’ve got into finding healthy ways to cope that work for me.

I finally feel ready to close this very long chapter of my life, but I won’t be forgetting it. I don’t want to dismiss or be embarrassed about what I’ve been through. I am proud of being a survivor and for fighting even when I was so close to dying. I just need to find a purpose that will keep me going and hopefully this will be the motivation I need.

People say I’m putting too much pressure on myself. But I know myself better than anyone else (funny that) and I know I need that pressure and determination to thrive. I recognise that if this doesn’t work out for whatever reason it will probably break me and it will be hard to get through. I am terrified of having a repeat of 2017 so I understand the concern. But the closest and most supportive people in my life know how important this is to me. Getting a law degree is something I’ve wanted to do ever since I did work experience with my dads cousin in a Magistrates Court 12 years ago. They know it’s not a question of “just try and if it doesn’t work it’s fine”. There is nothing else I want to do more than this. They understand how important it is for me, not only as an academic achievement but a personal one too. And instead of shrugging and saying “if you can’t do it take a night class” they say “great that’s so amazing, how can I help?”. And there is the difference.

So I guess what I’m saying is, before I was too scared to close this chapter of my life. There have been times I’ve turned the page and tried to get into the next chapter and then immediately turned back. I didn’t know how to become the person I was before I became ill, but now I know it’s never about trying to be the person you were. It’s about discovering the person you are now – without the labels. Of course I’ll have changed since I first became ill at 14. But also since becoming an adult – I don’t expect anyone who is soon to be 25 is the same person they were at 18.

As humans we are constantly learning, developing and changing. It can be something as simple as finding a new favourite food. Or more transient things like realising who our true friends are. Or falling in love. Or discovering a hidden talent. Or finding a new hobby. You get where I’m headed. For me to try and find that lost and hurt 14 year old girl would be fruitless. She doesn’t exist any more. Neither does the scared and tormented 18 year old girl. Or the 21 year old anorexic. These are versions of me, yes, and I have carried almost all of the same *core* personality traits that I’ve had since birth with me. But I’m a different person now. Every experience I have had up until this day has shaped me into who I am today. And trying to find a way back to even me a year ago would, in my opinion, be impossible.

Now we’re getting into dangerously philosophical waters here about what makes you “you” and the idea that existence precedes essence, so on a side note if you’re interested – Sartre in particular has various books and papers on his theory of existentialism.

Okay so as usual a very long post. It has been a bit rocky adjusting to being home after 3 weeks away, but as soon as it was confirmed I would be returning to University my whole outlook changed and I realised that in order to accomplish my goals I was going to have to let go of the life I have now – where despite the relief I get from harming myself or the safety I feel from having professionals to talk to to, it is not what I want for myself. I owe it to the 13 year old me who decided she wanted to be a lawyer to at least try and make that happen. Maybe I’m finally in a place where I know I deserve a chance to feel worthy, good and happy about myself.

Wow, so I was really planning on not making a big deal out of University for fear of having to come back on here and reveal that I haven’t managed yet again. And also because all my peers are currently doing PHDs, Masters or are a couple of years into their chosen career paths.

We always hear “everyone’s paths look different” and that’s true except what about when most of the people you know of your age paths look very similar? That can make you feel so alienated. Everyone says Instagram and Facebook paint a rose tinted and very selective picture of peoples lives – which is true but those things they post about did actually happen and those achievements are real, so it’s not all made up.

My advice is different. There is nothing wrong with seeing and liking and commenting on people’s posts. Congratulate them on getting married, having a child or getting a promotion. Personally, I believe self acceptance is the key here. When you’re at peace with yourself you stop feeling the need to compare yourself to others. It is amazing when something good happens to a friend or family member and having the ability to enjoy that with them without comparisons, jealousy or resentment is an incredible skill. I don’t know how to not feel alienated but I do know this much. Life is too short to spend it telling yourself you’re not good enough. You are good enough. You have always been good enough. And you will continue to be good enough until you die. Because at no point will you or have you ever been worthless. And that is something I can hand on heart promise you.

Take care guys