when there isn’t a choice

years ago, when i had to tell my ballet teacher that i was in no physical state to do the last exam of the syllabus (RAD Grade 8 Award), i was heartbroken. there was nothing stopping me- i was the tenacious and bullish Steph that i was. but it was not in my control that i was in the midst of a terrible massive RA flare. every joint that needs to be used in ballet- my hips, my knees, my ankles, my toes, my shoulders- were all constantly flaring, and it was already hindering my coaching classes. i knew if i didn’t do it, i’d miss my chance to. but i had to say no.

a little while (a year or 2 later), i stepped out of my pointe shoes and stopped dancing. i couldn’t. the mind is a force to be reckoned with, and in the bottomless pit of shame that i was in, i couldn’t bring myself back into ballet class. it’s where the mirror screams at me that i’m too fat, and maybe even comments that i am. ballet’s my life, other than nursing. and for me to have stopped, i was that far in my eating disorder. again there was nothing stopping me. only this time, it’s myself. i was the block. and i wished it never happened. i still try very once in awhile, to go to ballet class. i think maybe only 3 times in 4-5 years. and every time i went back, i literally couldn’t face myself. or my insecurities with my lack of strength and flexibilities. the last time i went? i left after barrework. for fuck’s sake, that’s not even half the class.

now, i am banished from the wards. by decree of my psychiatrist, and now the board. they know i love to be a nurse, that i love direct patient contact. they know i performed well when i was working. i begged and cried and pleaded with them, but they said no.  i don’t know what they want with me. now i have difficulty even getting a position to work. i may do administrative work, but i don’t want to be facing computers and working with numbers. i want to be face-to-face with people. i want to help. to care. there’s no stopping me, but they are halting me in my tracks. and it’s killing me. every single day. i’ve cried buckets and buckets over this, but in psychiatry, they can be brutal. fucking brutal.

this is what happens when you are sick. control is taken away from you. and it can be very discombobulating. disturbing even. and while i’d like to say in each occasion, i had a choice. i’ll have to say i don’t. people might say i deserved it. people might just dismiss me and say that i had it coming. and people could say and ask “why didn’t you do anything about it then?”. but the honest truth is, i am a work in progress. maybe not in RA, because RA can be very unpredictable and there are a lot of factors into putting my disease into control. in my eating disorder and depression? i am doing everything i can, and it takes time. it can take years. recovery might not even happen, for goodness sake.

so i’d just like to say, if you have a choice, treasure it. because there are people who’d give everything to be in your place.


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