Also check our Fi's earlier Reflections
A Life Changing Experience at the Recovery Retreat - CLICK HERE
Life After the Recovery House: One-and-a-half Years On - CLICK HERE
It’s been nearly 3 years since I left for what turned out to be a truly life transforming trip to Scotland. I don’t even recognize the person that existed back then. She walked around trying to be invisible, barely smiled and had lost all hope.
In comparison, I now walk around with my head up and a smile on my face. I am never suicidal and see the world with optimism and promise (At least most days).
I have been out of the psychiatric hospital system for over 3 years and have no reason to believe I will ever return. I do not need community mental health services, as I am capable of coping and looking after myself. I still have a psychologist. She is fantastic. I go to her when I need to talk things through and gain understanding without burdening others.
I am still on medication, which I reduce occasionally. It is difficult to do regularly as the physical withdrawal symptoms interfere with trying to make a life for myself. The medication itself does not interfere with my life. I am not at all drowsy, but in the long-term I intend to continue the reduction.
Away from psychiatry, my life has changed in dramatic ways in the past year. I left public housing and the city, moving to the country to be with my partner. I am in a successful, loving long-term relationship that makes me extraordinarily happy. I have someone to share everything with, both good and bad. I was told that someone with “schizophrenia” is unlikely to ever have such a relationship.
I love the pace of where I live. Scotland was where I learnt to stop and appreciate the simple beauty of the world around me. I can do that every day here.
I have ceased studying and working in the mental health field. I realized that it was the safe option for me rather than something I truly wanted to do. I know mental health and the system better than I know anything else, which was an advantage.
I chose to experience something different. So far this has not been all that successful. I have been looking for employment for what seems like forever. Some days are really hard. Receiving rejection after rejection is hard to take. Unfortunately there are a lot of people seeking work and many with more experience. This is a very difficult obstacle to overcome. My years in a psychiatric ward have left some impressive gaps in my resume.
The interesting thing with this though, is that I keep trying. I bounce back. Some days it feels like I will never get anywhere and that I am doomed to deal with my past forever. Crawling under the doona and never coming out seems like a very good idea. But then I look around at what I have, my friends and family, my personality back, a valued opinion, a home rather than somewhere I just wanted to escape… I have so much going for me that I owe it to myself and everyone else that believe in me to keep trying. Even better, I have the skills to do so.
My relationship with my voices is now fairly harmonious. I live my life in partnership with them. They do not hinder me in any way. They are generally of assistance. There are definitely things that still come up that others would never have to deal with. I’m kind of special that way. I think that I can look at these issues in a way that turns them into positives rather than negatives.
People that know, still ask if I hear voices and are shocked to hear that I do. I have never attempted to get rid of them. They are a big part of who I was and who I am now. Before I left for Scotland they were terrorizing me and that needed to change. The way they are now, I see no reason for change.
I have hit 30 and I actually feel that I have reached that age. Ron and Karen always said that they had a 16 year old when I arrived in Scotland. I never used to see it. Now I do. I have done so much growing up. I am responsible for everything I do. I can handle the everyday actions of a mature adult. If I make a mistake I am the one to deal with the consequences. My parents no longer have to pick me up every time I fall. I am hoping they can continue to get their lives back, as they put theirs on hold for me for so long. I have become independent and it makes me proud to be able to say that with true conviction.
So now I choose to be healthy and happy. The good outweighs bad. I appreciate the things in life that I have.
I survived trying to die for so long. I know that things could have turned out very differently and am so thankful for even the little things.
Without the recovery house and Ron and Karen, I am fairly certain I would not have the life I do now.