Discharge, Decisions and Days Ahead…

 I haven’t written a blog post in what feels like forever! The last few months have been absolutely crazy; my blog post got published by both ‘The Mighty’ and ‘The Daily Mail’ (wow- so overwhelming!),I had exams (horrendous- but the worst is yet to come!) and most significantly…two weeks ago today I got discharged from inpatient treatment!!

I never thought that leaving the ward would reduce me to tears but the truth is I was blubbering like a baby! Anyone that knows me well will know that I’m really not the sort of person who is easily reduced to tears; I don’t cry at movies (NEVER- not even the notebook… Am I even human?), I don’t cry in front of others…I’m just not a cry-y type of gal! So needless to say I was very confused (and mortified!) when tears were streaming uncontrollably down my face in my discharge meeting.

 This was the place that housed my worst moments, my biggest crisis’ and darkest days; so surely I would be elated to wave it goodbye? 

And I was.

 I was elated and a million other weird conflicting emotions. I was proud, nostalgic, happy, sad, scared, confident- the list goes on! 

 More than anything I was simply overwhelmed.

 You see, I’m not the same person I was when I walked through those doors for the first time two and a half years ago. 
 I spent so long trapped in an illness that convinced me that it was my saviour and my persecutor. I’d have to write a novel if I were to summarise the past two and a half years so instead I’ll focus this blog post mainly on my most recent eight month admission.

 When I was admitted at the start of August I was situated somewhere near rock bottom (rock bottom found a few different destinations for me!). I had spent years with an illness that made every day punishing. My eating disorder had caused my life to be in such a low point; yet although the illness had caused the torment, I still felt like it was the only solution to fix it.

 I’d lived with a disorder that manipulated my life; I spent each day accompanied by self hatred, disgust, self punishment and despair, I no longer felt like a person but simply a pawn in a game I couldn’t escape. I was desperate to escape.

 When I was admitted eight and a half months ago I was certain that there was no hope at all. I couldn’t fathom a future outside of anorexia’s screaming, and I couldn’t go through each day tortured by an illness.

 I’m no longer the same girl that begged for a way out. I’m not the same girl who thought illness was all that she was composed of. I’m not the same girl who had panic attacks each day, losing the ability to breathe because the concept of another day seemed too torturous to fathom.

 This illness is no longer who I am, nor is it what I’ll become. 

 This illness is smaller than me; it no longer control me but instead I live my life despite it. I now see a future that isn’t dictated by debilitating panic attacks, self punishment or self loathing. I now see my worth as more than numbers, calorific deficits or weight loss.

 The journey to get here wasn’t an easy one. In fact, it was undoubtedly the hardest thing I have ever done in my life; I’m not finished here either. I will undoubtedly still have bad days, my illness will rear its ugly head to tempt me back to the safe isolation of numbers and I will inevitably still have to fight. However now I WANT to fight; I strive to reach a happiness that isn’t built on self destruction. 

 Where am I now? 
 There wasn’t one lightbulb moment that made me think “Oh, I’m gonna get better”, honestly it was a slow change. I gradually started opening up a little more in sessions, listening a little more in groups, willing a little more for change. Gradually this built up to a desire to fight for myself and believe me when I say that was very scary! I had many days where my hope wavered and others had to hold my hope for me, I had days where going backwards seemed much less exhausting than trudging forwards and days where everything seemed too far out of reach; but although I do have bad days and will for years to come, I learnt that the pain I felt at that point was only temporary. Those days became fewer and I learnt how to deal with them, I very slowly learnt that I was worth fighting for, and with the unwavering support of the incredible team on the unit, my friends and my family, I started to see a future beyond a few meaningless diagnosis’.

 So although my recovery is only at it’s foundation, I couldn’t be more thankful to those who helped me build the foundation that will hopefully facilitate the rest of my life! 

 I’m now studying for my exams, seeing friends, applying for college and each day I am reminded of God’s plan for me, I’m reminded of my worth as a person- not a diagnosis and of a future that is not out of reach. 

 So for those who are in the position I was 9 months, a year or two and a half years ago- there is hope; make happiness your mission, talk to others, let them help you, push through the tough times and I promise the good times WILL come! 

All my love-
Lauren A Houston


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