TW: Discusses self-harm and suicidal ideations.
Within the last few days, there has been a fairly heated argument between my Mum and Dad. To cut a long story short, my Dad was angry at my Mum for ‘allowing’ me to leave the house alone after dark to ‘stretch my legs’. This is something I’ve taken to doing occasionally for many different reasons:
It gives me a focus for early evening when I might otherwise get into my pyjamas and lie under my duvet.
It helps tire me out in order that I might sleep slightly better.
I’m not afraid of the dark – I enjoy the anonymity it provides, which isn’t always possible through the day. I can remain in the shadows, unnoticed, not judged, more comfortable in my own skin.
Initially, I was livid. At 31 years of age, surely (despite still living with my parents) I am entitled to come and go as I please? I have no curfew, no reason to explain my movements to anyone. But then I began to consider how my parents feel while I’m away from the house, what my illness means to those closest to me and what it must be like to live with me at times.
To put it mildly, I’ve put my parents and siblings through Hell over the past few years. Or maybe that’s a bit harsh; it might be more compassionate to say that I have been through Hell and they have come with me.
There have been the very worst of times, times where I have lost all dignity, self-respect and consideration for others, when my parents have found me lying semi-conscious on the bathroom floor…or been called to hospital at 4am because I was refusing treatment for an overdose and was in danger of being detained under the Mental Health Act…or had to accompany me to A&E with self-inflicted injuries…just writing this down fills me with self-loathing, shame and sadness. My poor parents. I know, were the shoe on the other foot, I couldn’t cope. No way.
But there have also been times similar to my ‘night-walking’. Times where I’ve been so agitated with anxiety that I’ve got into my car and driven for hours at a time, just to satiate my need to ‘keep moving’. They must have been sitting at home forever expecting a phone call to say I’d been involved in an accident, or worse. And I was putting so many innocent lives at risk. There is no way I should have been driving. I’m in recovery from an ED, and there was a time when my body-weight was so low that I could barely walk. No matter how much they begged, pleaded and (eventually) threatened me, I still wouldn’t eat. What must it be like to watch someone you love literally disappear before your eyes, unable to do a thing about it.
So, all things considered, I really don’t blame my Dad for reacting as he did. Although my illness doesn’t prompt me to do things as erratic and dangerous as some of the things I’ve done in he past, I can still be irrational at times and frequently resort to SH as a ‘coping’ strategy. My family still watch me struggle and know that my recovery is a relentless, exhausting, daily battle. I’m not out of the woods and, who knows, maybe I never will be – but, if this is the case, I’d like to be able to come to terms with that and find a way to live a productive life around it.
Yes, as hard as this is for me, there must be times when it is as equally hard for those around me. I’d like to find the words to tell them I love them and that I’m sorry.
In fact, in case they ever read this: I love you all, and am truly sorry for everything I have put you through xxx