Monthly Archives: November 2015

Trust her, she’s a doctor 

“Sometimes you just have to trust another person’s instincts”

My life has shown me that the biggest epiphanies come in the most unlikely of places. I just never expected a hospital treatment room to be one of them.

And I definitely didn’t expect the words of a Nuclear Medicine doctor to affect me so much that they touched me more deeply inside than anything I could have possibly imagined.

She wants me to take a radiation tablet. I want me to take the radiation tablet she is offering. It makes sense. There is no downside.

But I cannot bring myself to do it.

There’s none of the usual instruments I refuse to engage in during a visit to a hospital for any reason. I never go near wheelchairs. I’m quite a passive person by nature and hate causing people problems but l don’t care what the NHS rules are regarding patient transport. I’m not using one.

But she’s not making me sit in a wheelchair, or a hospital bed. She’s not going to sedate me so I can’t control my body (so far I’ve been fine with that since learning how to walk again, but I worry I’ll freak out one day & have no control of it & be an inconvenience without being able to take responsibility for it).

I genuinely did not think I would be like this with her. I’m quite mortified. I’m wondering if this is an appropriate moment to put it into context for her a bit.

You see Doctor, three years ago I wouldn’t eat anything that wasn’t vegan, or organic.

It seems ridiculous though. I never give a thought to what goes into my body now.

And four years ago I would spend hours planning on how I would cope if I had to go somewhere & I thought I might have to eat something prepared by someone else. Sometimes it would be days of panicked preparation.

I genuinely do not have a problem with ingesting radiation. Yes it’s slightly weird. But I don’t honestly think that I think deep down its going to hurt me. I’ve worked too hard to overcome irrational thoughts like this one.

How about if I told you that five years ago I would only eat fruit because I truly believed everything else would hurt me. That I didn’t know who to believe about food, so I shut down and chose what seemed to be the only safe option.

Even when my hair fell out.

Even when I was wearing clothes from the children’s section.

Even when I would wake up every morning with bruises all of my body from my bones sticking out and digging into my mattress.

For years my entire life was spent in a cycle of trying to defeat illness & protect myself from what I thought was imminent disaster. It was a solo effort. I never asked anyone else for advice. Or help. Or guidance. And this protection took the form of obsessively monitoring what I consumed. Because I believed that this was the key to my salvation.

And now I am free from the self-created prisons. But it never occurred to me until this moment that I possibly do not trust people.

I like people. All of them. I enjoy people. Yes I definitely do that. I see the best in people. It’s easy to do that when you are happy all of the time.

But trust? No. I think I forgot to trust people. It’s a skill I didn’t realise I needed to relearn.

And now I have a choice. I either decide now is as good a time as any and give it a go. Or I go home and don’t get any treatment at all.

And that would be pretty f*cking stupid.

So this lady crosses the room and, bless her, she holds my hand and looks me in the eye and says:

“Sometimes you just have to trust another person’s instincts”

And then she allows me to instantly practise trust. Possibly for the first time in a decade. In the middle of one of England’s busiest hospitals. Which is important to point out. Because with most recovery comes the urge to put it off. It’s all well and good to understand the actions that need to be undertaken in order to be recovered. But most of us prefer to sit it out as long as possible. To refuse to engage in the practicalities of changing our behaviour. Because procrastination is far safer.

I know this. I’ve been there. Countless times. If I had not done it there and then? I would never have done it at all. And then fear would have won. I would have stayed in life’s Waiting Room. Nothing would have changed. I would still be stuck.

And she was right. Very little happened to me afterwards. Except that my hair is falling out. But I trust her when she tells me it will grow back.

And maybe it will be good for me to learn that I am more than my hair. Maybe that’s the next lesson.

I’m looking forward to finding out.


when you don’t get to forget

  I started this little website when I was a really different person. A broken person. A shell of the person I had once been.

The sort of person who would get frightened when someone asked how she was. Not just because it would be a lie to say anything except “totally terrified”, but because to say “I’m fine” would be to tempt fate. 

To be fine left me open to all sorts of things. Because I had been fine on the day I nearly died, hadn’t I? I’d been so normal and so fine. And fine had changed to disaster so very quickly. 

I learned to be really wary of fine. Of okay. It seemed like a state that could never be permanent. It seemed arrogant almost. Because you cannot un-know how quickly life can change once you have experienced it. 

You never get to forget.

A lot of people cope with this knowing by building their entire life around protecting themselves. It’s a full time job to see the world as a totally unsafe place. 

Fear on this level isn’t a mental thing. The body remembers it. Feels everything on the outside as potential trauma. It’s why I used to shake so hard people thought I had a physical illness. It wasn’t physical by then. It was my body experiencing constant, all consuming fear.

Overcoming fear seems like an impossible endeavour. I never thought I would get to the other side of it. My greatest hope was that I could learn to hide it effectively enough to be considered normal.

If I had known then that fear does dissipate. Gradually. That time does heal. Slowly. That the flashes of normality would turn into moments. That moments would morph into whole days of feeling okay? It would have made the road to here a lot more bearable.

When I set this little website up I was still very broken. Life was still very dark. I didn’t think it would improve beyond being physically able to care for myself. 
I’m glad I was wrong.

The majority of the people in my life didn’t know the broken shell that I was a few years ago. Who shook constantly. Couldn’t look people in the eye. 

Cut her hair with kitchen scissors because she couldn’t bear to be touched. 

Who couldn’t look in mirrors because the stranger staring back at her was too much to take in.

Who wore her dad’s clothes because it was the easiest way to be invisible.

I don’t think of that version of me very often these days. But I never forget her. She’s etched onto my soul and remains my greatest teacher. Even if I’m not always comfortable with it being this way.

Sometimes it’s easier to pretend I can forget. It’s why I let the original site go. I wanted to move on. I wanted to forget. To see if it was possible. 

But life had other ideas.

I never forget that there are people right now who are in the same situation that I was in. Who don’t believe that they will ever feel unbroken again. Who think that this shell of a person is who they have to be forever. 

And it would be wrong of me to try and forget that anymore. To forget that it’s why I moved to London. Why I changed my career. Why I searched for every available platform anyone would give me.
Why a commitment to help others who are now where I once was is a permanent commitment. Not something I can try to forget in a bid to feel normal.

No one really gets to forget the defining moments that shaped them. Good or bad. The real art lies in focussing attention on the solutions. Remembering that the bits too horrible to forget all have the potential to be resolved. 

If they didn’t? Then I would still be broken. But I’m not. 

And you don’t have to be either.

Never forget that x