Friday, 23 August 2013
I feel like I have to preface this post by saying it feels important to me to try and articulate to anyone who bothers to read this how I landed here - and if it feels like I am revisiting old territory then it is likely better you stop right now. I guess I am continuing to try to make sense of it and so what I write here is my own self-indulgent process. I think I've always been much more afraid of living, than dying. This realization just popped into my head apropos of nothing, but it may help to explain why I am not fighting to hang on the way I know many people in my position passionately try to do. To be honest, I never felt like I really got the hang of it that well - living, I mean. I started off with a lot of lost things...I suspect those gaping holes just never got filled back up. I was always too worried, too fearful, too afraid of of who I was and how the world perceived me...there was nowhere to hide from it and seemingly no way to feel okay in my skin. Of course this is not to say there weren't happy moments, but I couldn't quite get the knack of sustaining it without punishing myself - until it was so ingrained that it was part of a tired routine that I just couldn't shake. I don't know what could have changed it - I had many people in my life who genuinely cared - but none of it seemed to reach the core of my own perceptions. It is why I believe so passionately that the right kinds of tailored interventions have to happen early - and be sustained as long as it takes. This does not mean locking people away...living in some kind of treatment bubble with all of their choices prescribed by somebody else - only to be thrust back into an environment that landed them in trouble in the first place. (Though medically there are times when it is necessary...) But as I've mentioned before, my short-lived experience with being an in-patient for my eating disorder meant days of being pumped full of fluids and food my body simply could not adequately absorb after years of denial - then going home a bloated, bruised and anxiety-stricken mess - so all of that "progress" was eliminated as soon as I could possibly manage it. What consisted of out-treatment for me was a government funded program with the majority of people offering no real insight or expertise - including the final straw with my own "counsellor" when she suggested drinking as an alternative. I say all this knowing that there was a part of me for which it was too late before it even began - and while I do believe people can change, there was a stubborn, un-moving part of myself that wasn't prepared to face the consequences of giving up what I knew, however harmful, and having to feel and cope with this life without what constituted a deeply flawed safety net. What I know is that it is human to want some external force to rid you of something like this - some professional or group to flip some internal switch and make it all go away. But it takes an incredible force of your own will and a sense that you are valuable enough to be worth saving, to let it go. Having been on the inside of government I can say that advocacy is generally perceived as an attack and people literally jump in their defensiveness to protect what they've budgeted dearly for and the policies they have created. So instead of standing on a soapbox, I will simply say that regardless of what was available to me, the only real tool worth emphasizing in young people at risk is a sense of their own self-worth and an unassailable belief that regardless of the challenges they face they are worth fighting for.