The Relapse No One Could Predict

As I'm sitting here writing this post, I am undergoing treatment for my first relapse in recovery.

For a while my mood has been up and down- but mostly the latter. Although I have tried my best to remain positive, it seems like- at this moment- I have been caught in the desperate and vicious clutches of both anorexia and depression; it's a tug of war which I can't escape from.

I guess it began near the end of October. On that Monday, I'd hosted a birthday meal to celebrate my sixteenth. And even though my eating disorder got to me slightly whilst gnawing away at an all-you-can-eat-international-buffet, I remained joyous, and had a great time with both my friends and my family.

I had a CAMHS appointment the day after. Everything seemed okay, and we talked about the possibility of taking medication for my low mood and escalating suicidal thoughts.

On the Thursday, I went to Leeds to spend my birthday money and to watch an amazing show about mental health named Zoetrope, invited by a member of staff from my old unit. I met with a patient from my time in there, and we caught up. Again, I was happy.

I didn't feel the change in my mood until that Friday, when I had my tooth extracted. It obviously startled me a lot- the pain was absolutely excruciating, but I couldn't say that it was the be-all-end-all.

That Saturday I woke up, crippled with suicidal thoughts- my mind tied me down to my own bed and forced my mouth to shut, there was nothing going in or coming out.

I self-harmed for the first time. It was my way of trying to release something, anything from within me. I had to go to A&E, where I was seen by adult services. They sent me home, but I was back on Sunday.

The rest of the week felt like a blur. I was in and out of CAMHS- if I wasn't there, they were at my house. My parents hid any items that could potentially harm me.

I was prescribed with Fluoxetine to see if this would ease off my thoughts, but they do say "it gets worse before it gets better". I went from barely eating to eating nothing at all.

Soon after, I was sent to an acute medical unit for assessment where they admitted me.

Because I hadn't eaten properly for so long, I was at a major risk of refeeding syndrome, and because of this I was sent from the AMU to a gastro ward as the consultant there had a lot of experience in dealing with the risks of refeeding.

On there I was drinking Fortisip after pretty much every meal as I wasn't managing much more. What I ordered I ate though, even if it wasn't too much; I was fitted with a cannula and given Vitamin B and Thiamin through a drip three times a day, and had the threat of an NG Tube lurking over me constantly.

Fortunately for me, I had an amazing support network with me both from my family and my CAMHS team and was discharged after a six-day-stay on the 20th of November. I was sent home with a bag crammed full of Fortisip to ensure my body stayed satisfied despite my low oral intake.

I had an assessment booked with an inpatient unit in Sheffield to see if that route was better for me in the long run. I had a lot of hope that this would be the case as I wasn't truly coping at home- it was my chance to recover properly, and I'd been working my ass off to ensure that  I was medically stable for the appointment.

I was refused.

They wanted to up the dose of my Fluoxetine to see if more of this would have an impact on my mood. Plus, it hasn't been too long since my last admission, so it could do more harm than good.

And I didn't understand this. I sat, cried and pleaded them to listen to my wishes, yet I was turned away. It only made things worse.

I refused to have Fortisip or food for a matter of fact, and laid in bed crying for the rest of the night. I had given up; what was the point of carrying on when I was obviously not sick enough to get intense help?

I hadn't eaten until my CAMHS appointment, where I sat and spoke to the dietitian about how things had been. I think that something must've clicked within me, something that wants this to change- they won't send me to hospital, and maybe that's a sign that I have to get my arse in gear and do this for myself this time.

We agreed on a small but manageable plan for the rest of the week. I was working towards a trip to York on Saturday to celebrate my mum's birthday. Everything I ate, every Fortisip I drank would help me to get there. And that was two a day, plus a bowl of Weetabix with milk and a banana.

It's going to be so hard to fight the thing that has started to manifest itself back into ever bone in my body, every crevice of my skin. But I can't live like this any longer. I have to try and trust myself; fighting is my only option. Although I don't realise right now that I have a big life ahead of me, I have people around me that are a constant reminder that I must carry on.

But one thing I have realised from this harrowing experience is that life can change so fast. One moment you can be singing, dancing and loving every moment, the next you can feel fastened down by your own mind and stuck in a vicious circle.

Relapses are normal. And it's normal for them to hit you twice as hard as your illness did in the first place- it's like being shot in a fresh wound. However, all wounds can heal, no matter how deep they are. There's a light at the end of the tunnel, and you can find it.

I can't live a life in and out of a medical ward. And I can't live a life being dominated by my illnesses anymore.

Thank you all for your support, I couldn't do this without you.

Millie x


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