There was this thing people used to get when I was at university called fifth week blues. Terms were eight weeks long, so you’d work your arse off for a month and then find yourself in fifth week, exhausted, with the shadows under your eyes showing four weeks’ worth of all-nighters – and with half the work still to go. That’s where I am with therapy. The timescale is different – I’m nine months into a course that runs for between one and two years – but the feeling’s the same. I’ve put in so much work, and in some ways I’ve come miles: I self-harm less, I’m working (part-time), I’m looking at options for moving house. But it sort of feels rubbish that what I get for having really pushed myself as hard as I could to make this progress – my reward – is more time working harder than I ever have before. The prize for getting through a hard day safely shouldn’t be waking up the next morning and having to do it all again. It isn’t fair.
As you get better, you realise how much you’ve lost through being ill, and it’s awful. Sometimes it’s so awful it becomes even more tempting to slip back into old ways of thinking and acting because at least when you were in a downward spiral you knew where you were going. Starting to hope again is a frightening thing.
Nevertheless, I am hoping. I’ve been at home for just over 4 weeks since the end of my last crisis admission, and I don’t think I’ve felt this stable so long after a discharge for at least eight months. It’s going to be a bumpy month or so – with possible major changes in my housing situation, all the cuts to my day centre’s funding coming into effect at the beginning of December, and the first module assessment for my sign language course in two weeks – but I have things to hold on to. One of those is art, which I’ve been using as a kind of journal recently. Here are some pages from the last few weeks: