As I type this, I’ve been meaning to do so for so long that I’m now actually closer to 7 months of being here. Where is here? Well, to me it is the place that has given me hope of a life. For the first and only time, I feel like I no longer am stuck with just 2 options:
1. living in constant, unrelenting torturous pain
2. not living
Now, there is a number 3, and that just might mean that a life of feeling more OK and managing to experience fulfilling relationships/experiences/careers is possible for me. I wouldn’t have thought that 8 months ago, 5 months ago or even 5 weeks ago!
So how on earth have I got here? Well, through 6 months of hard work. I am at a specialist inpatient placement for personality disorders which uses an intensive program of Mentalization Based Therapy (if you’re not sure what that is, I’ve written an intro booklet that you can find here). And when I say intensive, I mean that we have 1 – 3 fully blown MBT groups per day alongside individual sessions and occupational therapy groups. For me, this has been ideal. I needed a complete change to everything about my life and this has changed my days and their purpose entirely: I now get up at a regular time because my day has meaning, I eat breakfast and other meals because I personally need to in order to tackle the groups/therapy, I go in to group and I answer “how are you?” honestly during check-in and check-out, I think and talk about myself/my relationships/others’ thoughts and feelings/where my or my peers’ thinking might be skewed in groups and 1:1 sessions, I challenge and question professionals where I don’t understand their meaning or thought process, I spend time with peers without constant preoccupation that I’m damaging them with my mere presence, and I can imagine that a future might exist for me*…ALL of this is new for me. And its all because of the program. I’ve thrown myself in to it and it has proved itself worth it.
I am starting to think that maybe I have proved myself worth it, too.
I am at a very early stage, with so much more work to go, but I have taken those first steps. And yes, it’s a bumpy road. I have been to hell whilst here. Multiple times. But I have also experienced a batch of genuinely ‘OK’ days, which I didn’t think was possible for me. There will be further hell, I’m sure, but I am also inclined to think that there will be more ‘OK’ times, too.
So, what’s next? More of the same. More hard work. Much, much more hard work. There is a lot of therapy still to do. I was told today that I am bucking expectations, progressing well, and that reports from group and 1:1s are all positive – this means the world. But accompanying this was the equally important reminder and caution that these are the very first stages of change/recovery, to not expect too much of myself, and to not expect a straight line of progress. I’m only around a third of the way in to the program and I am determined to make the most of the remaining opportunities to change and grow. I want to build a life, and I think this placement might let me do just that.
*I am also frequently exhausted, am currently plagued by flashbacks and nightmares, often feel drained, sometimes overwhelmed with distress (sometimes for extended periods) frequently get scared and often feel confused