Yer a poet, Rosie!

I’m a what?

Rosie, you are a poet.

I’m a what!?

A poet, Rosie.

I’m a poet!

Yes, Rosie, you are a poet.

Me, a poet? But I’m just Rosie!

Well, “just Rosie”, you, are a poet.

No, I’m just Rosie!

Listen here Rosie, yer gonna get yerself a fountain pen, yer gonna go in a magazine, and yer gonna write poems and shit!

BuT i’M jUsT rOsIe

Hopefully, you too have been blessed with this wonderful video and understand my cute little parody of it. But, even better than being cute and hilarious – it’s my dream come true.

I have had some poems accepted by a literary magazine, to be published in September!

On top of that, I also scored the job I have wanted for a very long time as a science entertainer.

AND ALSO I have found a home amongst some spoken word poets who made once a month to share what they’re currently working on.

So apparently good things can happen to me?

There’s that little voice in my head that’s waiting for the slump, because after the rise, I always seem to crash harder than before. For now, I’m lapping it up. And hopefully this happiness will hang around. Until the next suspicious look someone casts me, or the tone of voice I misunderstand, and I fall into the abyss sideways of the emotional rollercoaster.

Feeling okay makes me not okay

This phrase we’ve accumulated: it’s okay not to be okay, has taken a unique turn in the general shittiness of my life. I’ve discovered that feeling okay, that feeling content, less depressed, more energetic, anything that goes beyond the usual neurotic distress, very quickly makes me not okay. I find it uncomfortable to the point that it becomes just as distressing as all the other urges I suffer through every day.

I can’t handle being okay. I can’t handle ‘happiness’. I don’t even know what that really looks like. Because, for the first time since I was a very, very little girl, I am having good days.

Today was a good day. I slept (properly). I ate breakfast (restricted). I studied. Cycled to the health food store. Studied. Practised yoga. Studied. Did some watercolour. Cooked dinner (deliberately portioned). Had a bath. Watched TV shows that make me smirk. Today was a day that has left me feeling content. But, there it is. That inexplicable sensation. The withdrawal. The beginnings of emptiness spreading outwards from my being, just like ink beginning to curl away on a page.

Why does feeling okay make me feel not okay? I feel so deeply that I am worthless and will always be worthless that I cannot account for these times where I feel okay about myself. Where I might possibly find life. Where I find balance in the things I must do (study) and the things I love (yoga, and art, but also study too tbh).

I don’t understand it. How do people tolerate this feeling of contentment? Is it the same as tolerating anger, when you’re not a borderline well accustomed to the tear of a blade across your own flesh to release it? Is it the same as tolerating anxiety, when you don’t knock hard surfaces so rapidly that the skin of your knuckles tears? It is the same as tolerating euphoria, when you don’t have manic episodes coercing energy through your veins?

Maybe, just as with all the other feelings, I need to stop thinking of them as obstacles that need to be removed. Just as I need to learn to coexist with anger and sadness and distress and anxiety, so too do I need to learn that feeling content is okay. It doesn’t diminish my struggle. It doesn’t weaken my fight. It’s just not something I’m equipped to handle yet, and I guess that for now, that will have to be okay.

A New Therapy Path

I’ve seen a few people in the mental health blogosphere describe the process of leaving a therapist a bit like Nanny McPhee: When you don’t want them, but need them, they must stay, and when you want them, but no longer need them, then they must go.

This is not necessarily true. I am not leaving therapy, and I by no means no longer need therapy, but I am transitioning from one hour of therapy with my current psychologist a week to two hours a week of DBT group and one hour with a new (program-associated) DBT therapist.

I’m scared to end. I’m scared to begin.

And I keep circling back to that thought which underpins everything, which has always been at the core of my problems: I’m not enough. I’m not sick enough. I’m not deserving enough. I’m not bad enough. It’s put me in an interesting place, one where I self-sabotage and deliberately send myself down a spiral to confirm to myself that I am, indeed, worthy of therapy, that I am sick enough.

So I have to stop. Take a breath. Remind myself that that very thought alone – I’m not sick enough – is an ironic symbol of my inherent sickness anyway. It’s a thought distortion that has plagued me, and will probably continue to plague me for a while longer. It’s a thought distortion that I’m aiming to move away from by starting DBT. My therapeutic glimpses at DBT in the past have only been little glances of the help it can offer, but I was in such dark places at the time, it was difficult to apply them at all.

By the same token, it’s made me realise (in the same way that eating disorder treatment did) just how messed up I am. How messed up my emotions and thoughts are. How estranged I am from my experiences. How often I dissociate. How frequently I’ll avoid conversation to avoid reliving a memory. Isn’t it odd that the very act of starting DBT has made me realise just how much I need it?

I hope it gets easier.

Because right now, it makes me feel like a child. Maybe that’s what needs nurturing on the inside. I feel insulted when trying to analyse my behaviours. I feel pissed off at trying to change them, even though I know that they do need to change. I feel like crying when I have to confess that I self harmed, and no, I wasn’t able to use any skills, and no, they didn’t even cross my mind.

Trying to navigate this new therapy path is not so dissimilar to trying to navigate my own mind, so I guess eventually, I’ll just have to accept the winding turns and back-tracks and times where I get lost as bumps along the journey that I shouldn’t blame on myself.

 

Finally Learning to Self Advocate

I saw my psychiatrist today. And for the first time since I started seeing any mental health professional (we’re talking a span of years), I didn’t leave angry at myself. I left satisfied. I left feeling like I’m actually going to get somewhere – even though I’m sick, even though I’m struggling, even though I’m an anxious mess engaging in eating disorder behaviours here there and everywhere, I was able to speak. 

I said what has been on my mind since I started to read the DSM 5.

I asked if I had bipolar disorder, and BPD, and depression, and anxiety. And PTSD at some stage. And bulimia. I asked if that was even possible.

And he said yes. 

Finally, a mental health professional actually confirmed what I have known for a long, long time. And he will pass it on to everybody else who provides support for me – or tries to anyway.

Maybe it’s a bad thing. Maybe it also confirms that there’s something fundamentally wrong with me, which is a belief I’ve held for a similar amount of time. Maybe it just confirms that I’m struggling, and will be for a while, and that’s something I will just have to accept.

But it’s also a great thing. I no longer have to squeak out in the emergency room that I self harm because I’m depressed. That I’m experiencing suicidal thoughts and feel unsafe. I can self advocate. I can say: I have trouble regulating my emotions. I can say: I have also been diagnosed with bipolar disorder and anxiety; self harm and my eating disorder are like symptoms of those underlying difficulties that I haven’t been able to face for so, so long. I can say: call my psychiatrist if you have there’s an issue.

Something else I’m proud of? I stopped seeing that doctor who told me I couldn’t be depressed because I wasn’t failing (aka a naturally intelligent perfectionist with unrelenting high standards who couldn’t fail a test if she literally tried). She also used to grab my arms where I self harmed and told me to stop doing it because she didn’t like it. She also used the word “slashing”. So I found a new doctor. And she is understanding, and supportive, and best of all, doesn’t tell me I can’t possibly be depressed because my marks are too good.

I’m finally, finally, after almost a fucking decade learning to self-advocate. It feels fucking amazing.

 

 

19 Good Things From The Year I Turned 19

Today is my birthday. Today is not a day I expected to see. For the first time, today it truly hit me just how incredible it is that I have lived nineteen years on this earth. I have survived severe anorexia, depression and multiple suicidal periods. In fact, just ten days ago, I came my closest yet to ending my own life. But, just as my newest tattoo reminds mehere I am living despite it all. 

Something I have struggled with almost every day of those nineteen years is pessimism. Mostly directed at myself and my future, but also at the world and others as well. So I challenged to create this list, of nineteen good things that happened between this birthday and my last.

24/06/2017 – 24/06/2018

  1. Having a beautiful birthday picnic for my 18th on a beautiful day, with beautiful new Sydney friends (that’s it above)
  2. Getting my first tattoo
  3. Getting my second tattoo
  4. Painting props for the university theatre society – even though I didn’t perform, I was still a part of something (and got free tickets!)
  5. Leaving veganism behind me
  6. Making incredible and unexpected friends during eating disorder and psychiatric treatment
  7. Becoming a Christian
  8. Getting to meet the alpacas at my parent’s new property in South Western Australia when I went home for Christmas AND THEN one of the alpacas gave birth
  9. Ticking off a bucket list item by hiking to the Figure 8 Pool in the Sydney Royal National Park
  10. Re-joining the gym 
  11. Moving from my tiny solo place into a 2 bedroom apartment with another hip person
  12. Reading the Vegetarian by Han Kang before realising it was quite psychiatric and a little triggering, but excellent nonetheless. Along with lots of other incredible new reads such as Shades of Grey by Jasper Fforde
  13. Creating my largest t-shirt rag rug ever, for a custom order. It’s a massive 1.5 metres wide, which was no simple feat to sew by hand. Finding energy to channel into my Etsy store.
  14. Teaching myself to sew clothes – I’ve always been able to sew, just never clothes
  15. Doing lots of headstands in new kick-ass places
  16. Also learning to do fore arm balances AKA Pincha Mayurasana
  17. Finally starting actual physiology subjects now that I’m in the second year of my science / arts degree – and loving them!
  18. Completing my first ever eating disorder specific treatment in the eight years I have suffered from anorexia / bulimia
  19. Surviving to see my 19th birthday, which, because of a near suicide attempt ten days ago, I wasn’t even sure I would be celebrating. The other things on this list are great, but this the best one of them all.

Permanency

I have tattoos.

People are genuinely surprised to hear this, because my first is on my hipbone and so not visible. My second is freshly done, and definitely visible (it’s on my bicep) but it’s winter now and hidden beneath layers of soft knits and scarves. Maybe people are surprised because I don’t look “the type” for tattoos; I’m not a barista. I’m not an overly muscular male pumping weights at the gym. In other words, I don’t fit the stereotype. I’m a tiny five foot nothing human, I’m a tutor expected to act as a role model, and I plan to become a doctor – eventually anyway, once I figure out my own health first. So maybe they’re just not expecting someone like me to have had ink permanently etched beneath my skin.

That’s kind of the point. The reason why I have tattoos is because they’re permanent reminders of where I am and where I’ve been and how far I still have to go.

The first is on my hip bone, and it’s a quote in cursive which reads “do not go gentle”, from Dylan Thomas’ poem by the same name. It represents the struggles I’ve been through and come out the other side of. It represents strength and perseverance and bravery in the face of adversity. It represents not giving a fuck. I will not go gentle into that good night. I will not let darkness consume me so easily.

On a slight anecdotal tangent, during eating disorder treatment, I was asked what kept me motivated in my recovery. I volunteered this poem as evidence. When I graduated the program, my team presented this poem to me, as a reminder. I told them I had had the quote tattooed on my body six months ago, and carried the reminder with me permanently.

I got my second tattoo a few weeks ago. I designed it myself based off of Rupi Kaur’s illustration “and here you are living despite it all”. Underneath, in my own script, is the word courage, and the O is replaced by the NEDA symbol. It represents being a badass, and reminds me to approach life as one. Recovery is one of the hardest things I have ever faced, and it takes courage, but here I am living, despite it all. Because recovery from anything, even just living with mental illness, makes us all badass.

Maybe people are surprised because my tattoos are not purely for aesthetic reasons. Maybe people are surprised because my tattoos mean something, and only to me.

They remind me of my own permanency, and my own fight. They remind me to keep on fighting when the struggle is dark, and now, each time I go to hurt myself, I will be reminded that I am living, despite it all, and with just a little bit of courage, I can move forward.

I will not go gentle into that good night, no matter how much I may want to at times. The lure of death may be strong but I will rage and rage and rage against the dying of the light. I will not give in, and I will not give up. I will not go gentle. Depression will not take me. The battle against my own brain will not take me, not yet. 

So yeah, I have tattoos.

Because here I am living, despite it all.

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