Sunshine and Rainbows

Some women float through pregnancy like frigging goddesses. They eat healthily, look amazing, work until they go into labour and run the odd half marathon in their downtime. (Only a half marathon because, you know, doctors orders.)

I am not one of those women.

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Regular Saturday Night for me!

I throw up so much I have to be rehydrated intravenously. I am still finding stashes of vomit bags and Zofran in the most unusual places.

I eat whatever the hell stays down. Which mainly consisted of potato chips and baked beans.

I hobble around like someone who has ridden a horse for far too long. Thank you symphysis pubis dysfunction. I didn’t realise how bad it was until I dropped a bag at the shops and a beautiful lady with a perm and blue rinse picked it up for me.

My body itself attempts to reject the pregnancy. I bleed and contract and end up on medication and bedrest to try and prevent preterm labour.

In fact, I spend so much time in hospital that my health insurance company – clearly less than impressed with having to pay for in excess of 15 admissions – offer to provide me with a personal health coach to improve my health and wellbeing. At first I was all ‘hell yeah – free health support’. Then I made the disturbing discovery that all the models featured in the brochure had white hair and walking sticks.

I had been invited to geriatric fitness classes.

This was my new demographic.

Awesome.

Still, much to everyones surprise, I struggled on and on until 36 weeks. Then on a Saturday night I went into labour. Of course, since I had been contracting on and off for weeks I didn’t realise it was *actual* labour. So Hubster went to a bucks night and I popped a few Panadol and went out to dinner with some mums from the school. As you do.

The next day things were still on the ouchie side, but certainly not akin to my labour with Master D. And I had been experiencing similar pain almost daily for several months, so I wasn’t particularly alarmed.

Spoiler alert: I should have been alarmed.

Around lunchtime we called the hospital. I knew the drill. CTG and admission for observation. I packed my bag like I had done so many times.

But this time was different. The hospital was eerily quiet on a Sunday and I was the only woman in labour ward. This time I was dilating and they could not stop the labour.

Suddenly I was being prepped for an emergency c section and I was crying because I didn’t get my baby to the magic full term 37 weeks. And the doctors were telling me my baby would be taken away to special care because it was early. That my baby might be sick or have trouble breathing. And there were suddenly lots of people in scrubs around asking me weird questions like “have you been to West Africa in the last 21 days” (umm yeah. Just after I trekked the Himalayas). And I didn’t get the chance to stop my Lithium which can make babies floppy at birth. And I just didn’t think it would happen this way.

Less than four hours after calling the hospital I was holding our beautiful healthy baby girl. No special care needed. And aside from jaundice, and extreme sleepiness due to prematurity, no major issues following the birth.

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Then came my recovery. With a history of postnatal depression, postnatal psychosis and bipolar disorder I was considered  high risk for relapse and transferred to a mother baby unit following my discharge from the maternity ward. I was put on higher doses of medication and observed for a few weeks.

And you know what? I was fine. Despite all of the worry and the grim statistics. Once I wasn’t in constant pain and constant worry and threat of miscarriage or preterm birth.  Once the stress of the pregnancy was taken away. Once I was holding my beautiful baby girl and my family was complete. My mind was freed once my body was my own again.

My Master D has always been sunshine to me. The brightness in my life that has kept me going through dark times. But Little Miss S is my rainbow. Something beautiful that has followed an unbelievable storm.

Welcome my beautiful rainbow girl. You are so very loved.

 

 

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Going Back to What I Started

Well, I’m pleased to announce that we emerged from Christmas relatively unscathed.

Of course, Hubster received a Nerf gun from his Secret Santa, then promptly shot my sister in the eye which resulted in a Christmas Eve trip to the doctor. Although this was vaguely traditional. Christmas isn’t Christmas in our household if someone doesn’t end up in the Emergency Room. Master D announced to the table in a rather stern manner that “we don’t eat poo’s, only dinners” (not particularly complimentary of my food, I felt). Mum decided to back her computer up which somehow resulted the kind of chaos only my family can achieve; deep and meaningful discussions on the best method of backing up, accusations of “nephelious” content, and despair when the back up was predicted to take 67 days. And no one seemed to appreciate my helpful renditions of “Back that Thang Up” by Juvenile.

But all in all, it was a good Christmas. I didn’t poison myself. For that matter, I didn’t poison anyone else. No one poisoned me. To get to the point, no vomiting or morphine based drugs were required. And I only had one panic attack. Unscathed.

Now I have to face the fact that in under two weeks I am going back to university. My emotional response to this is variable, but almost always resides sonewhere on a five point scale ranging from “Slightly Dubious” to “Holy Crap”

Don’t get me wrong. I LOVE what I do. I love writing. I love researching. I’m passionate about reducing mental illness stigma. I sure as hell want to earn my title of “doctor”. I’ve worked damn hard to get to the point I am at.

But I’m scared.

You see, I started my PhD last year. I was given a scholarship that only nine others were offered. I was told my by supervisors and other academic staff that I was talented and could go far in the industry. I was invited to present at the national conference in my first six months which is HUGE.

And then I got sick, spent five months in hospital, and had to take the rest of the year off. I had to bow out of the conference (although my talk was still presented by my supervisor). While I was having ECT I couldn’t even remember what my thesis was on. Now I have to go back into the office. Say “hi” to all the people I haven’t seen for a year. And somehow pick up where I left of. It is incredibly daunting.

And on top of undertaking a full-time PhD, which is, I’m assuming, challenging at the best of times. I have to do it in half the time due to difficulties in childcare arrangements. I currently have three days a week to achieve what my colleagues do in five or six. This is not even including research assistant work and/or teaching. I also have to factor in, not one, but two chronic illnesses. I also have a three year old. Just to save time here: “yes”I have thought about going part time, “no” it is not possible without forfeiting my scholarship and putting my family into a inferior financial position.

The thing is, I keep worrying. I had terrible side effects from ECT. What if my mind won’t work the way it used to? What if I get sick again? What if I let everyone down? And here is the big one: What if I am unable to achieve what I have wanted to do since I was about 12 years old?

I did, in a particularly rebellious moment, decide to pack in the PhD and become a Fudge Master instead. I like making fudge. People like eating it. And It may or may not be an uncracked industry. I decided my business would be called “MotherFudger” and I would sell my stash at the local markets. Unfortunately my dream was cut short when I realised there was already a “MotherFudger” out there (well, many actually. But we won’t go into that). I also worked out that even if I ripped off the buying community with overpriced product, my fudge profit margin would probably still put me under the poverty line. So that idea, in short, was “fudged” from the get go.

So with Plan B knocked off the list, it is back to Plan A. I’ve thought about and how I will handle it, and all that does is make me incredibly stressed. So I’ve come up with three basic PhD rules:

1) Take each day at a time and don’t put too much pressure on yourself
2) No degree is more important than your physical and mental health
3) No degree is more important than your son and family

I also came up with a reminder:

Do your best, but if it doesn’t work out you are not a failure. You can always go back to the degree in the future.

So I’m getting my laptop in order. Rereading my notes. Boxing up data to take into the office. And after all this time I’m going to go back to what I started.
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This Bipolar Parenting Gig

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I’ve been quietly contemplative lately – thinking about my son and being a parent. I know everyone says it, but time really has gone by so fast. I can’t believe my baby will be four next year.

Master D was “easy” from the moment he was born. He slotted into our life and our routine with minimal fuss. He ate well, slept well. He never had long spells of crying. He has always been healthy and happy. He has a knack for accepting change and deviations from his routine. He will sleep at anyone’s house, eat anyone’s food, and remains remarkably cavalier during situations that would stress even the best of us out, (I’m looking at you – 24 hour plane journey). I’m not saying he’s an angel child. He certainly has his moments, just like every child does. But for the most part he has just been….easy.

Master D isn’t the difficult part of parenting. It’s me. I’M the difficult part of parenting.

I’m the one who ends up in hospital, who counts pills every night, who deals with mania and depression and everything in between. I’m the one who catches every single frigging cold and virus that goes around because my immune system is too busy fighting itself to actually do it’s job. I’m the kind of unpredictable crack in the family. I’m the trouble.

I’m determined to be a “good” parent (whatever that is). It’s all I want. If  I never finish my PhD, I never clean the house, I never cook, I never travel, I never do anything else. I want to be the best parent I can to my son.  Ultimately, I want us to have a good relationship throughout his life.

What I don’t want is for him to end up sitting in some therapists chair one day talking about how I was never there for him because I was always in and out of hospital, or dealing with my own issues. I don’t want him, as an adult, to have to deal with my episodes. I don’t want him to grow up and think “Why did I get stuck with this crazy mother?”

It’s a current balancing act, and it can be really hard. I hate taking my sleeping pills at night, because I know I won’t wake up if he cries. But if I don’t sleep I can slip into mania. I hate the fact that I spent five months away from him this year. I wasn’t there for HIM when he needed me. But I needed that inpatient care to recover. I hate how doing the best thing for myself is not always the best thing for my son.

I feel, as a parent with a serious mental illness, I need to over perform to be seen as an acceptable parent. I constantly feel guilty over my parenting. I constantly feel the need to prove myself.  Whether the people I encounter actually see me as a “bad” mother because of my diagnosis doesn’t really matter. It’s self stigma. It’s irrelevant.

And I know that as a advocate for mental illness, and as a researcher looking into stigma reduction I shouldn’t self stigmatise. But it’s not because I am personally ashamed of myself. It’s because I know what society thinks of mental illness. And I’m scared that people think that way of me.

I feel like I can never, EVER, ask for help. Sometimes, on the difficult days, I want to ask Hubster to help me with him – to get him dressed, give him a shower (which he often does without asking – he is a fantastic father and husband). But the words get caught in my throat. Because Husbter did that solo for nearly half a year. Hubster is working full time, studying part time and renovating a house. It’s time for me to step up to the plate. I’m Master D’s mother. I need to do it. I need to prove that I can do it.

I have no idea how to tell Master D that I have Bipolar disorder. How do I know when the best age is to start bringing that kind of stuff up is? I mean, he knows I am sick, he knows I was in hospital, he knows I take medicine. But we told him that I had a sore tummy. Because I did, and three year olds understand what a sore tummy is. They don’t understand the intricacies of mental illness. How do I even begin to explain Bipolar to him?

I don’t want to hide my illness from him. I don’t want it to become this big family secret. I don’t want to feed stigma.  I’m not ashamed of having bipolar disorder, and I don’t want him to grow up thinking it is something to be ashamed of. Besides, he needs to know, because there is a possibility he may inherit it.

This bipolar parenting gig is hard. Damn hard. But no one ever said being a parent, bipolar or otherwise, was easy did they?

Down the Rabbit Warren

This time, my doctor gave me little choice over my hospitalization. She looked me in the eye and told me I could go to my local hospital as a voluntary patient on an open ward, or if I refused she would section me as an involuntary patient in a locked ward at the state psychiatric facility.

Of course I cried, I told her i was fine….it was just a bad day. I pleaded and begged, but she held fast.

“Ethically, I can’t let you go home” she told me. My mind went a million miles, wondering how on earth I was going to tell those closest to me that I was a giant screw up. Again. A failure of a mother. Again. I’m a PhD student researching mental illness, I should be on the OTHER side of the fence. This cannot be happening.

The days preceeding my admission had been nothing short of strange. I wandered around in a foggy vagueness. Blips of craziness punctuating my constant level of physical illness. But having the equivelent of gastro for 6 weeks would drive anyone a little crazy?

Wouldn’t it?

On the day of my admission I put a pretty dress on. I dropped my son of at daycare, kissed him good bye and went to the shops. I bought a few items we needed for the house then sat down to a large meal at a cafe. I ate approximately four bites before rushing home and being ill. I had planned to clean the house and pay the bills, because I wanted everything to be perfect. I wanted everything to be perfect because I knew I was going to die. I didn’t have a plan and I can’t even say it would have been suicide…but I had a strong gut feeling that I wouldn’t be in my house that evening. I was done. Something had to give.

Six hours later I was being shown to my narrow hospital bed, I guess I was right. Before I even knew it was happening I was falling down the rabbit warren again.

The day that I dreaded mothers day

This semester has been a bit of a write off really. I’ve been up, been down, been psychotic. It all has been really really hard.

Now my personal philosophy for when the going gets tough is to tell myself to keep calm and carry on, convince myself I am fine, and generally  beat myself up for being anything less than perfect.

Now this approach is all very well, except when it isn’t very well. For example last year when I attempted to ‘keep calm and carry on’ for seven months becoming progressively worse before I sought and accepted the help I needed.

But back to this semester. It’s been bloody hard. Ask anyone who has completed assignments and sat mid terms whilst psychotic (see…I’m admitting it now…!Revelation!) But as usual I have struggled on and struggled on.

Until the day I dreaded mothers day.  Why? You ask? Mothers day should be lovely. A nice spot of family time plus the potential to be pampered. What’s not to love? I suddenly realised that I was dreading mothers day because it meant one less day to work to achieve my goals. Suddenly, I stopped. I mentally slapped myself for being so ridiculous. And I booked an appointment with my doctor to get an extension.

Today I got to see Dr. Longname. As well as a medical certificate and a new medication script (which by the way are wafers, not pills. I ask for a different medication that doesn’t make me feel like chowing down the entire pantry, and they give me wafers?! Mind. Boggling.) I had a little heart to heart with old Longname about stigma.

You see, given my extensive experience with the mental health system I am undoubtedly against stigma towards those with mental illness. Well, at least that is what I thought. Longname told me I was self stigmatizing. That if I had a physical illness I wouldn’t hesitate in asking for support. I suppose he is right. Because what I endure is mental. Because it doesn’t leave any physical trace. Because it is indeed, so stigmatized. I tend to try not to think about it. I just want to be normal, and be treated as normal.

But doesn’t anyone? Those with obvious disability generally want to be treated as any other person.

Of course, Longname agreed. But if the disability were to hamper the individuals ability to study and achieve her best, the university would have no hesitation in giving out extensions for work and other supports.

I suppose he is right. His last words to me were “Ask for help when you need it, Rachael. Don’t struggle in silence.” And that’s the core of it really. That’s MY issue. Too many times I have not wanted to worry people, or bother people. Too many times I have denied myself the help I require, and deserve.

But not this time 🙂 
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I kid…I kid! 😉

More than just a mood

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Bipolar disorder is part of a cluster of disorders classified as ‘mood disorders’. Most people associate high and low mood changes with bipolar disorder. For me (and probably many other people too) bipolar is so much more than just a mood change.

Drive and Energy 
When I am depressed I have NO energy. Seriously. Nothing. Every little thing becomes such a drama. Sometimes I feel I can’t even move. I don’t even have the energy to cry, I just kind of sit there. Waiting for time to pass by.

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On the other hand, at the other pole I am like a kid on a sugar high. I need very little sleep, I can’t sit still, I’m impatient with people who can’t keep up with me. I talk and talk and talk and talk. My whole body is fueled with energy…which can be quite annoying sometimes. I have so many projects and ideas. When I’m hypomanic this can be quite useful, I recently completed 10 days of thesis work in under two. But once I cross the threshold to true mania it becomes counterproductive. I have so many ideas that I can’t keep track of them all, I start a project then become bored and leave it. I become extremely annoying. My husband will testify to that 😉

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Self esteem:
When I’m depressed I hate myself. I’m ugly, I’m fat, why does anyone bother with me, I’m a waste of space. I dress in tracksuits or anything to hide under. I avoid social activities. On the other hand when I’m hypomanic/manic I feel confident and self possessed and this generally manifests anywhere on the scale between “Damn, I’m good looking!” to “Holy crap! I’m superhuman!”

ImageMystical experiences:
There is this other aspect that individuals with bipolar, particularly bipolar 1 tend to have…and it is often referred to as mystical experiences. Now I personally think that is just a nicer way of saying ‘psychosis’ myself. I mean how much cooler does mystical experiences sound?! Harry Potter anyone?

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Anyway I read somewhere that believing yourself to be completely normal is a positive sign for stability. When I was severely depressed I slipped into psychosis and started having paranoid delusions where the police were after me for being a bad mother. When I was manic I thought I was superhuman (because I didn’t need to sleep) and that my dreams predicted future events. I believed myself to be special, have special powers, and people were to pay special attention to me. Egocentric much?! 😉

So there you have it. To me bipolar is so much more than just a mood change. It’s almost a personality change. From self loathing to self loving. Failure to fabulous. Miserable to majestic.

And somewhere in between there is the normal, average, non-wizarding me too.

What are your experiences of bipolar disorder? Do you feel like a different person during episodes? I’d love to hear! 🙂

Would I….?

Sometimes I wonder, if I could, would I take away my bipolar disorder.

Would it be easier, would I be happier without that roller coaster ride, that inevitable and uncontrollable swing from elation to depression and back again.

Would I want that?

I suspect life would be more stable. I wouldn’t need to be on the cocktail of medications I am currently depending on. Some things would be easier, I’m sure.

But would I miss out? 

While I would never glorify the illness, I do feel I have learned a great deal from my experiences. Aside from the crash course in clinical psychiatry and psychopathology, but I have also learned about human emotions and vulnerabilities. Becoming hospitalised allowed me to witness other people at their lowest, or highest points. To be on their side. A normal kind of crazy.

I believe there is still great stigma attached to mental disorders. While I will go into my feelings about this another time, All I can say that I feel very strongly that mental illness should be treated as equal to physical illness.

I feel I understand the mental pain of another, and empathize. If I hadn’t have experienced those highs and lows would I be able to truly understand someone at their most vulnerable state?  I feel my experiences have supplied me with an empathy I may not otherwise have.

Would I be the same person without bipolar?
Would I experience the same drive and creativity without this experience. My best work, musical, artistic and written has generally been during mania or depression. Is this due to the disorder, or due to my inherent personality? Or both?

There is a documented link between bipolar disorder and creativity. Nina Simone, Stephen Fry, Ernest Hemmingway, Virginia Woolf, Mel Gibson, Frank Sinatra, Catherine Zeta Jones, Kurt Cobain and Winston Churchill. All of these people have bipolar disorder.

I’m not sure I can answer the question, as bipolar is such a strong part of me. My highs and lows and yes, even my psychoses have become an everyday part of life. It’s something I deal with, and something I can’t easily separate from.

But after all these years of self hatred I can say one thing. I am happy with the person I am. And bipolar or not, that’s the way I want to be.

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What the Dickens is Bipolar Disorder?!

Bipolar disorder is a universal mental illness. It doesn’t discriminate. People of all ages, nationalities and from all walks of life can experience bipolar. Perhaps this is due to the genetic component of the disorder. Scientists have identified several genes, including the Dysbindin, Neuregulin and G72  genes which when damaged contribute to Bipolar disorder. As such, bipolar tends to run in families, although episodes can be triggered by significant stressors, and in women, childbirth. It is estimated that about 1.1% of the population suffer from bipolar disorder

People with bipolar disorder are 50 times more likely to commit suicide than the general population. That is huge. The suicide rate for the average population is around 0.01%, in the Bipolar population it is around 13%. What’s more, nearly half of individuals with Bipolar disorder will attempt suicide at least once. Extreme depression and psychosis resulting from lack of treatment are the usual cause for suicide. IF YOU FEEL SUICIDAL PLEASE REACH OUT FOR HELP BY CALLING YOUR LOCAL EMERGENCY NUMBER OR PRESENTING AT A HOSPITAL EMERGENCY DEPARTMENT!

A bipolar depression is nothing less of horrific. Unlike Major Depression, often there is no apparent cause for bipolar depression. A bipolar depression can persist for months and may become so severe that psychosis results. Traditional anti-depressants used alone generally have little effect, and can even trigger manic episodes. Unfortunately, because many individuals affected by bipolar seek help during depression rather than mania (which may be enjoyable), they are often misdiagnosed with Major Depression and treated accordingly. Individuals who present with mania may be misdiagnosed with Schizophrenia. Consequently bipolar is one of the most difficult mental illnesses to correctly diagnose.

Symptoms of mania can include pressured speech (or talking REALLY fast), racing thoughts, needing less sleep and not feeling tired, grandiose beliefs (for example, I started to believe that I was superior to everyone else because I didn’t need sleep to function but they did), and general euphoria. People may become impulsive (e.g. spending lots of money, quitting their job) and promiscuous.  But there is a dark side to mania; during a manic episode people can quickly turn irritable and even aggressive. They may experience hallucinations and delusions.

Sometimes individuals experience mania and depression at the same time, for example, a deep depression fueled with energy. This is termed a ‘mixed state’ and is one of the most dangerous psychological states to be in.

Bipolar is generally shuffled into three types: Bipolar Type I, Bipolar Type II and Cyclothymia.

Bipolar Type I is often referred to as the more ‘severe’ disorder in that individuals in that people’s  high’s tend to be higher, and they are more more likely to experience psychosis and be hospitalised.

In Bipolar Type II the high’s are less severe and are termed hypomania. While the mood, cognitions and energy is still elevated, there is no psychosis, and usually little need for hospitalisation. However, depression can be crippling in those who experience Bipolar II, and affected individuals are more likely to rapid cycle between episodes.

Cyclothymia (or ‘Bipolar Lite’ as Stephen Fry once described it), is a milder of form bipolar where individuals experience mood swings from mild depression to emotional highs chronically over many years.

Being Mummy

 

 

There’s this boy who stole my heart….
He call’s me “Mummy”

From the moment I saw those two pink lines on a pregnancy test my life became about someone else. Was I eating the right things? Was I doing the right things? Should I rest more? Should I exercise more? And it doesn’t stop there. I still worry about whether I am doing the best for him and I expect I will his whole life

Yet this parental worry is probably the reason I am still here today. On my darkest of dark days I would look down at the beautiful baby we had created and pushed and forced myself to get up, feed him, change him and hold him.  I told myself that the blackness was my problem, and David didn’t deserve to suffer the consequences of it. He held me together more than any medication or doctor could.

Each time I felt like ending it all I would think of my beautiful baby, of him growing up without a mother and how that would affect him later in life. I would take a deep breath, and give my little boy a huge cuddle.

When it became clear that I needed hospital assistance I refused to go anywhere I couldn’t take my little boy. I was so frightened of being absent during such an important stage of bonding. Whether that is admirable or foolish i can’t say, but thankfully for me there was a mother and baby unit where I was able to take him.

One of the major things I worry about is that he will inherit my illness. Bipolar disorder has a large genetic component and often runs in families. We probably won’t find out until he is in his teens…but on the small chance he does develop bipolar disorder I hope I will be able to guide him through it. Sun, storms, rain or shine, I’ll always be there for you my darling David. My sunshine.

 

Clean

 

I am a fanatically clean person. Seriously, it’s bordering on ridiculous. From an incredibly young age I would get up early to clean the family home (not that it needed cleaning!). I actually enjoyed…yes..enjoyed..boxing up everything in my room, vacuuming and cleaning the furniture and putting everything back. During my first couple of years of uni I used cleaning as a sort of reward system for studying. I would not allow myself to clean the house until after I had finished my allotted study for the day. The torture of having to study in an ‘untidy’ house propelled me into getting my work done in a productive fashion. It’s actually amazing that I have been formally diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder as opposed to something like OCD 😉

Me…on an average cleaning day…;)

 

So why am I telling you all of this?

Before I went into hospital my cleaning standards started to slide. Now don’t get me wrong, our house never turned into something out of Hoarders…but it was untidy, for my standards anyway. I cleaned everything I needed to for my baby; his bottles, his clothes, his change table, his bowls. But I gave up on things that weren’t directly related to him. What’s even stranger than the fact that I stopped cleaning was the fact that I didn’t care.

I started paying little attention to my personal grooming. Sometimes I didn’t shower or wash my hair…I lived in tracksuits and slippers unless I had to go out. Now this isn’t anything unusual for anyone who has just had a baby, but it was unusual for me. Even in the darkest most horriblest sicknesses I have always showered. God forbid I shouldn’t wash my hair every day! So this was unusual behaviour for me.

So I wasn’t cleaning, wasn’t washing my hair regularly, wasn’t eating and wasn”t sleeping. A few times a social worker came to visit me and I would tear around the house tidying before she came. I was convinced that if she saw the ‘mess’ I was living in she would take my baby away.

I think I collapsed once I was admitted to hospital. Tracksuits and slippers it was. Sometimes nurses had to remind me to shower. I was hospitalised, convinced the nurses were plotting against me, exhausted as all hell and frightened. My usual cleanliness just wasn’t a priority.

But one day I walked into the hospital kitchen for a drink. There were no glasses in cupboard. At that moment I heard the dishwasher beep and I went to go and retireve a glass from there. I walked away and then turned around. The dishwasher was irking me. So even though it wasn’t technically my job, even though they had an employee to do it, I started to unload the dishwasher. Then for good measure I reloaded it again and wiped the surfaces down. Satisfaction!

Later I went into my room. I HATED the particular bed sheets that I had that week. They looked disgusting, felt disgusting and were disgusting. Fed up, I went to get a nurse and asked if I could change my sheets. Astonished, the nurse went to the locked linin cupboard and I choose pretty new sheets. Bliss!

And so it went from there. As I healed I began to ease back into my former life. I cooked for the patients and staff. I started using my own cloth nappies and washing them at the hospital rather than using disposables. I cleaned my room every Sunday and changed my sheets. I started to feel like I was *doing* something once more. Like I had a very small purpose.

And somewhere a long the line I went from someone who was looked after in every sense of the word to a person who could look after another. I went from someone who couldn’t be trusted to be left alone with a pair of nailclippers to someone who used knives, unsupervised, daily. I showered, I even shopped for new clothes, wore makeup and the nurses commented on how different I looked. But I didn’t look different at all. I looked like me again. The way I was supposed to be.