Some days are harder than others. They just are.
Friday I woke up to the silence of an empty house. The girls were round at their dad’s and it was just me and the cats. And the silence. I’m not good with silence; it echoes in my head and makes my thoughts very shouty. From the end of my bed, Tate lifted her head sleepily and acknowledged my movement.
I got out of bed, opened the blind and leaned against the wall for a bit while my head cleared.
I stood in the shower for a long time.
I massaged cream into my scars and topped them with a coating of silicon, feeling the pull of the tight, mottled skin. I wondered if I could stay whole until the next burns unit appointment and reminded myself fiercely about the additional appointments I didn’t want.
I pulled on a favourite dress and boots that I knew wouldn’t cling over unwanted flesh, and thought really hard about holding my cats while I quickly applied the mask of make up that makes me look like someone with their shit together. Mirrors and I don’t really get on.
I said goodbye to the cats, breathing in their amazing smell and feeling their friendly purrs vibrate gently against my face. I wondered, with a huge ache in my heart, whether they’d understand if I didn’t come back.
At work I felt safer – particularly settled at my desk with a coffee to hand and a hot water bottle on my lap (it’s bloody freezing working in a converted warehouse). I talked nonsense about politics with my writer colleagues, worked on making clients sound good, swore at Word a lot and popped some bubbles. One advantage to being a realist is that you can spot the flaws in a plan from a mile off and that’s handy in marketing. I just ask myself, ‘would I believe this?’. The answer’s frequently, ‘like hell I would’, so I try to let people down gently – popping their bubbles. I chain-drank Diet Coke and selectively said yes to some offers of tea.
All the time my head was running through death scenarios; there’s no need for details.
I rummaged in my desk for a new Sharpie and found some lorazepam that had survived the Great Handover of all Prescription Drugs. Took three.
Worried about the calories in lorazepam.
Read the kind letter from the food psychiatrist again and gritted my teeth to reply. Finally put down in black and white how things weren’t going and how I was throwing away everything he’d helped me to achieve. And that, at the same time, I was failing at having an eating disorder too. Took the chance to say how much I appreciated all he’d done for me. Pressed send.
Realised I could just walk out. Go to the quarry. Jump. And they’d all think I’d gone to the loo.
Realised that wasn’t good. Tried to remember what I was supposed to do, how I was supposed to ask for support. Fought massively against the voice that said “don’t” and tried to phone my care coordinator; left a message.
Missed her call back. Tried again. Left a message. Missed her call back because I was doing a work thing. Again and again. Six times in all.
The amazing food psychiatrist emailed back, last thing on a Friday afternoon when you’d think he had better things to do. I read it and read it. Mentally, I held on to it tight.
Worked late because it was safer inside the building than out. And I take so much time off for mental health appointments that I like to make it up when I can.
Outside, the wind whipped my hair across my face as I walked round all the open pharmacies and bought pills. Each box increased my sense of calm. I was able to breathe.
At home I held the cats and enjoyed their affection – even though I knew they were just buttering me up for food. I turned the heating up for them and put out some catnip.
I sat up the corner for a while with all the pills laid out in a line. I did some breathing.
A text reminded me I was due round at a friend’s for belated birthday cocktails. I gathered up the pills, put them in my bag, and went round – sociable persona all ready.
Small talk. Mojitos on an empty stomach. Worked hard to be funny. Listened well.
Walked to the quarry and worked my way through the fence. Sat. Breathed. Sat some more.
Sadly, slowly, went home.
Thursday, Truby and Tolly looked up, sleepily from their nests on the girls’ beds and Thursday asked nicely for some treats. Tate was asleep on the landing, waiting for me to come to bed before she jumped up on the end to ‘her’ place. I lay on the landing with her and stroked her just the way she likes it. She did happy breathing.
I thought about calling the crisis team but the idea of trying to explain was too much. And I knew that explaining would bring people, questions and – possibly – decisions about me without me.
I took enough sleeping pills and quetiapine to make sure of sleep and crawled into bed, fully clothed. Tate hopped up and leant against my leg, settling for the night.
I lay still and waited.
Eventually the day ended.