scorched

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i just returned from Chiang Mai, Thailand. it was a 5 day trip with my parents. considerably shorter than the 10 days we had booked for, when i first arranged for my spiritual retreat. in the days leading up to the trip, i was still bitter that i was rejected for an agreed upon retreat, because i was forthcoming with my depression. the people around me, friends who are Catholic, tried to comfort me by telling me that perhaps this was not the time for me to spend so much time in silence alone with God. i was also frustrated at the fickleness of my parents and their insistence that we did not set an itinerary. the thought of spending 24/7 with my parents, sharing even a hotel room, scared the shit out of me. i didn’t think i could deal with it. so before we flew, yes i was literally going crazy.

we enjoyed Chiang Mai, except for the scorching heat and rowdy tourists. dad and i would bicker, and he threw his usual “tantrums” several times. but whatever it was, i knew i could i look forward to a zip line adventure that i had booked much earlier. one which i could go for without my parents. i had an amazing time zipping through over 10 lines. the longest we had was a 700m line and that was fucking amazing. i felt so free then, although admittedly the physical aspect of hiking really challenged my poor heart. i also enjoyed good ‘me’ time shopping alone. H&M gave me a sweater that i’d wear with everything. and that never comes that easily.

i had many mixed feelings coming home. i didn’t want to return to the monotony that is my life. i didn’t want to return to somewhere i feel most vulnerable. i didn’t want the control of my parents (but believe me it is worse in Chiang Mai). i didn’t want to have to be in my room where my mind is left to its monsters.

but alas. home it is. therapy the day after i arrived home. and school the next (which is today). many things distress me now.

i’ll just leave things here for now.

 

i will not settle

in the past 5 years, many people have told me what i cannot do, many of them have this tendency to decide what should be done to me, and many liked to point out my shortcomings, even though it is glaring that i am aware of it myself. i am turning 26 this year, and it still goes on. i have given in, caved in, due to the pressure given, and the insistence that they know better.

i have let people disparage me, decide that i should stop work, and tell me that i am unfit to work although i have been cleared by my doctor. i have let people bring me down, and oh i let them do so, and others have given me grief for doing so as well. i have been told i cannot do this or that, because my depression renders me “weak” and a “liability”. i have let people lock me up, making damn well use of the Mental Health Act. i have allowed people to tell me in my face “why are you still like that?”, and tell me the precedent of my depression doesn’t seem to warrant such a long and severe bout of depression.

i am asked sometimes why i have such a low self-esteem. i tell them that it has been low all the while, but in the past 5 years, i have been trampled on time and again by people. and it has been a very vulnerable period for me. so tell me again. why am i down, and why is my self-esteem so low? why is my recovery process so slow? why am i the way i am

most times i let them get to me, because i believe them while being extremely vulnerable. but was there ever any basis for such words? oh no, i don’t think so. the only basis is that of stereotype. depression just seems like such a vulgar word that it doesn’t call for any empathy. and it seems rather apparent that tearing a person with depression apart is pretty apt.

after my discharge on Friday and finding myself fighting to not go inpatient again, i realised that i have found some strength in me to defy what people like to condemn me with. perhaps a part of me is tired of just going with the flow. or maybe i’m just filled to the brim with all these disparaging.

i simply will not settle, from today onwards. i will fight, and i will damn well talk them down, if they were to even begin to mutter a word about me. and for those who have already done damage (95% of them don’t even know that they’ve trampled on me), God bless you, and i don’t have the space in my life to accommodate you.

a rare chance

i was in the hospital for the last 6 days because of a raging infection on my arm (CRP was 101). to say the least, i was extremely reluctant to bring myself to the hospital because i knew what would come out of it. because of the nature of my wounds, it was expected that the psychiatrist would be involved, and that was the cause of my worry.

i didn’t want to go back to the psychiatric hospital again. and my worries were not for nothing. it was technically decreed for me to be sent to the psychiatric hospital after i was cleared medically. i wasn’t surprised, but i wasn’t pleased either. when they made it clear to me that i could not head home, my mood crashed while i panicked in my mind about what i should do to avoid being admitted into the psychiatric hospital. i slept for hours on end today in a bid to run away from the anxiety of impending doom.

i left the hospital in an ambulance, like it’s always been the last few times. i told my parents that the only way to change this “fate” that i have been condemned to, was to persuade the doctor in the Emergency Room, that i was in no need of an admission. so that was what i did. i almost cried in the consultation room because i have almost never walked out of the psychiatric hospital’s Emergency Room “scot-free”.

no one will understand what a psychiatric admission means and feels. being locked up with triple locks (you have to get through 3 locked doors), the bare minimum to live on, and nothing much to make you feel any better… it is fucking demoralising. it’s the place where you’ve fallen, and try as you might you can’t pick yourself up. it’s the place you know that you’re so fucked up, but they remind you of it everyday anyway. it’s a place that’s a vacuum, that is devoid of hope. one doesn’t leave the ward “all better”. one leaves the ward to be left alone to pick the self up and to put everything back to place again. one leaves still demoralised, and sometimes it never goes away.

i didn’t want to go in again, because the last 1 month out has been so incredibly difficult. i haven’t even managed to get my shit together. i wasn’t ready to be thrown in again, and have all the progress i’ve made undone. i know that whatever that i am right now, going in would change things and throw me off balance. i was scared, to be honest, of going in. and this comes from someone who has spent more than 2 years inpatient (added up).

being back home again is putting things in perspective again. i remember all the times i came home from being inpatient, feeling like all is foreign, yet also having the real sense of longing. it’s the place where i belong. not inpatient, no matter how much i’m used to being inpatient. so yes i feel extremely blessed that i was given a chance despite the shit that i have done to myself.

MS?

i woke up on Tuesday morning with my left lower leg asleep. it was numb as hell. and  when i tried to restore any sensation in it (because i naturally thought i must have slept in  a funny position), it couldn’t happen. it was a nightmare.

my mum brought me to the EMD. took bloods and x-rays. they wanted to admit me under orthopaedics because it appeared to be caused by some issues with my L5 and S1 spine (it appears to correlate with L5 and S1 dermatomes). i waited for quite a few hours for the bed, and then suddenly the orthopaedic team came to do their rounds. they did the usual tests, and told me they have no idea what it is, and that even if i was admitted they were not going to do anything. only give me some stupid supplement for my nerves. i was extremely frustrated, and told them i’d rather go home. in my mind i thought this doctor was talking bull, and i wasn’t going to take any of this shit.

i went for a second opinion today (Wednesday) with a spine specialist. the numbness was a bit better and i could feel pins and needles. he looked through my x-ray and MRI films from before. of all things, he caught erosions in my left hip, probably from my RA. the joint space is narrowed, and nobody knew or said anything. the supposed “syrinx” that was reported in my MRI at the C6 level appeared to him as a “plaque”. all the tests he did made it obvious to him it was very unlike to be a spinal issue. he told me it seemed more like a neurological problem.

he mentioned a slight possibility of Multiple Sclerosis, especially when there is a plaque at the level of the cervical spine, and with such symptoms without any aggravating factors.

it’s a mixed bag of feelings. i’m giving this leg until Friday. and if it’s still not MUCH better, then i’m going to the EMD again. but looking at the way it is, it probably will go away before that. i’m quite sure of that. such shit usually don’t last very long.

note to self

 

you think life is about living, but it’s really about not dying. you think recovery is about not being sad, about not being anxious, about hitting those milestones of not hurting yourself, of not wanting to annihilate yourself, of not being admitted. but it’s not. you think life will be better after it’s over, but these monsters will continue to haunt you. you think you will start to heal when people start to understand you, but no they won’t and can’t even begin to. it’s been over 5 years, and you still covert for that “recovery” doctors and alike are looking for. but all of these, though indicators that things are better, isn’t recovery. recovery is a much bigger picture. one in which you find yourself again. one in which you can reconcile with fully and accept the past for what it was.

you try so hard to find the old Steph back again. the one before depression held you hostage. but you can’t, and you won’t. that Steph is dead, and has been for a long time. you’ve been chasing after the wrong rainbow. you thread between the threshold of life and death, and depression mocks at you for being so utterly weak. depression mocks at you for falling prey, for staying “comfortable” where you are at.

you are tired and scared, as you’ve been for the past few years. you’ve been thinking a lot about your future. your future seems to include depression, self-harm and admissions. your future seems to include all your borderline and narcissistic traits. you worry that you can’t hold on to a job for long, as have you for the last few years. you don’t know how this will work out. this is a grim prospect that you can’t seem to reconcile with. you don’t think you’d ever be ok with something like this. you don’t want to do this. you don’t want this life. you want to fight it all away, all these monsters. but you pale in comparison to them, and you will always fall victim to it. you until now, don’t know what sense to make of it.

sometimes you think you know what you’re up against, but you don’t have the foggiest idea at times. you let people hurt you time and again, and you hurt and you bleed. yet you won’t tell them to stop. you let yourself hurt you, and sometimes you try to be kind to yourself. but you fail anyway. many people make decisions for you, thinking they know better. after all you’re so weak, so fallen. but do they? do they really know? sometimes i protest, but they tell me they know better. but they don’t. they really don’t.

what you can grasp in your hand is nothing but hope. a quiet hope that is not there at all sometimes. there is nothing else you can hold on to. not people, not medications, not therapy, not words. hope. it waxes and wanes, this hope. and this hope is not there when you need it most, there though when you least need it.

your nightmare hasn’t ended. and it may never end. sometimes you scream and shout and beg to be awakened, hoping it’s but a bad dream. but you know it’s all too real. you cannot simply walk away from this mess you alone created. the mess people blame only you for. because they are just bystanders right? wrong.

you don’t know what to do. you really don’t. and you will continue to toe the line between life and death, until one day you can walk towards one definitively and not look back. then it will be the beginning or the end.

unnecessary update

things that have happened in the past week:

  • got a subacromial triamcinolone injection in my left shoulder for the rotator cuff tendinitis that has persisted for 2+ months, with false hopes. it’s been a week and it’s still giving me much grief.
  • DMARDs are held off by rheumy again. beginning to agree with rheumy that i might be growing out of my RA. yay?
  • the ankle with the torn ligament is getting much better with plenty of rest!
  • infection on my arm with a lot of frank pus. gross.
  • decided to return to class right after i come back from my silent retreat in Chiang Mai. so that will be early May. parents are still worried i’m pushing myself too hard???
  • almost 2 weeks out! oh my life is boring.

still trying

at the dawn of my depression, my younger sister once told me that “when you’ve hit rock bottom, the only way is up”. wise words which i tried to believe in, but up was never where i went. rock bottom became my “normal”, and everything else ran on well, what else? negative.

dad reminds me that today marks 7 days out in the wild. i’ve begun to appreciate being “out in the wild” since the days of lengthy hospital stays because of my depression. he and mum got me a gift, sorta like a pat on the back, for staying out this long. the last time i was out, i didn’t make it past 4 days (i’ve had worse though). this act, together with going for confession (after months of procrastinating), begs me to rethink things. rethink life.

to be honest, it’s really much easier to slip than one could ever imagine. and for several years battling depression without so much as my faith in God, i butchered myself. hard. i only had extrinsic motivations to stay “well” and out in the wild, and never intrinsic ones. i truly believed i deserved everything i lashed upon myself. even worse, i thought it insufficient. for awhile things seemed to get “better”, and there was once i passed 500 days without a single admission. that was something i celebrated. but could you imagine? i was actually celebrating a freedom which has been given to most people so freely. it didn’t feel like living. it felt like existing. while i counted my days out in the wild, i tried my utmost to not have to reset my count on my days free from self-harm. of course i never really succeeded in that. i failed so badly keeping the body that God has so lovingly given to me, safe and intact.

i know that plenty disagree with my self-harming ways, and i’ve soured or lost friendships because of this matter. but if one could just try to not think so hard about why i do it, just understand that self-harm has allowed me to still exist. in person (and online). because otherwise, i wouldn’t. i would be long gone. it’s so effing twisted, but this is what it is.

i ask myself why the past year has been so particularly bad, especially with self-harm. i ask myself why this is happening despite my encounter with God a year ago in Treasure 3. i have no concrete answers, except that with each episode i was triggered. and triggers to me, are the usual reasons why i hurt myself, go into crisis, and/or get admitted. i previously wrote that the past one year has been bad, but right now, after 2 psychiatric admissions and whatever that transpired during this period, this past year has been even worse. it’s been such a nightmare, i don’t even dare to hope that the coming year will be any better.

recovery still eludes me, i think. but i continue to ask our loving and merciful God to give me the strength and courage to continue to trudge on. i ask Him to help me to keep my ways straight, that i don’t turn my back on Him and go savage on the self once more and again. i know i can never do this alone, and i thank God that more than ever dadmum are trying to stand by me. the girl who has been so fiercely independent since she was even just 7 years old, is now trying to let go and depend on dadmum and God. everyday i that i live and breathe, is a decision i make to continue to live this life that has been given to me. it’s a conscious decision that i have to make. and i guess that with depression, learning to want to live again and stay safe and intact, is a huge part of attempting recovery.

 

the will of God will not take us where the grace of God cannot sustain us.

-Billy Graham