A Glorious Mess

By Nicola Anne

Today I underwent my sixth round of ECT.
Six general anaesthetics.
Six seizures.
Six times, with a prospective six more.

I can’t remember things properly. My memories are scrambled; trying to put things in a timeline is like trying to think of a word that is on the tip of your tongue… You know it should be there. It is there… you just can’t seem to find it.

Today I was downgraded to Category One.

I no longer require someone to accompany me out of the hospital; I can take myself out. Go for a walk… Treck to the café… Wander through the streets. This new found freedom has made me realise the responsibility that freedom carries – they are trusting me with my own safety. They believe that I am no longer a risk to myself.

They believe it. But do I?

When you have relied on others to keep you safe for this long (I will have been in hospital one month today), you forget how scary the big wide world can be. It is a busy, bustling place out there – and everyone is on their own mission; trying to fill their own cup; trying to win their own battle.

Everyone. Each of us. Living their life.

I watched so many people at the café I was at today. I like to fantasize about what they might do for work, what their relationship status is, whether they are a cat person or a dog person… I develop entire identities for the people I see; I build in my mind imaginary lives that they are grounded in. And there it is. Just like that. I can understand why I have been downgraded and allowed to venture out into this big bad world on my own. I am not a risk to my own safety, because I do not want to die. No – the reality is actually quite the opposite. I want to live.

As one author so eloquently put it; “Don’t be afraid of death; be afraid of an unlived life. You don’t have to live forever, you just have to live.”

I want that for myself. I want life. I want to soak up every single one of life’s experiences. I want to love, and be loved. I want to see, and hear, and smell, and taste, and touch everything I possibly can. And yet, despite there being so much to do, and so much to experience… I somehow still find myself doing nothing at all.

“I am still here in this metaphorical bubble of existence and I can’t quite figure out what I am doing or how to get out of it.” – Anonymous

I don’t think that it is possible to live confidently in one’s own truth, or be grounded in any sense of self and identity, without first exploring what that looks like for you. Who are you? What are your values, and what does that look like? And so – my journey begins. Who am I? How do I fit? Where do I fit? What does being alive and authentic look like for me?

The question is not, am I safe? The question is, am I alive?

I have been so completely overwhelmed by the love and kindness that has been shown to me since my admission. It was unexpected and I cannot thank you enough for being there for me through this. I hope that my journey has opened up the discussion regarding mental health awareness, and encouraged some of you to talk more. I got the semi-colon tattoo a while ago as a reminder of my own battle with mental illness, but also to raise awareness of these illnesses. If you have a spare $50 and a blank bit of skin, then this little baby is a great way to start the conversation; it’s ok not to be ok.
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Reproduced with permission, originally posted here

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