I’m recovered, these days. Maybe recovering.
Mostly. Sometimes. It’s complicated.
Right now I’m relapsing. That’s how it is sometimes. Some days I would see ‘recovered’ and laugh because I am so close to killing myself and being done with it. That’s life, I guess.
And there’s a part of me that questions the whole paradigm, of recovery. Recovery implies that I am returning to a normal state. Well, there’s nothing to return to, and what is normal anyway? And what if doing better means being less normal? Who makes these decisions? I have never been neurotypical, I will never be neurotypical, and if that’s what recovery means then I don’t want it. Recovery implies that I am getting back something I lost. What if I never had it in the first place, and I don’t want it?
But most days I am doing okay. I do my homework and turn it in on time. I shower. I get out of the house. I play D&D and go to clubs and support groups and once a week therapy. I take my meds. I write sad fanfiction with a happy ending. I smile and laugh and it’s real. My parents call me by my name, and it doesn’t quite feel real, but it is.
The days when I am not doing okay–sometimes I make it through them. That is the worst part, I think. When everything is screaming at me to run away or take out the razors or shove my hand down my throat or hang a noose around my neck, and instead I lay on the couch and listen to comedy podcasts until I remember how to laugh.
Even now, I want to talk about the bad times. There is a temptation there, to bare my suffering for the world to see. There is no shock value in getting better, no elegance, no beauty. It is tedious and boring and trivial. Painfully mundane. And there is a temptation there, on those days, to hurt myself more, just to justify my pain to myself and to the world. Because I no longer count as eating disordered, as a danger to myself and others, and this time last year I did, and so when I feel the same pain I did last year I feel like I ought to count, that I ought to go back and do it all over again so that my pain can count again. But it is a lie. And so I do the banal and unexciting work of reminding myself: your brain is lying to you. it is not worth it. keep living. keep being kind to yourself.
And that little voice, that temptation, is true to some degree. Nobody tunes in to watch people just living their lives. People tune in for conflict and excitement and angst. People prioritize you and your problems if you might die otherwise; you take a backseat once you start being able to handle yourself. It is absolutely dreadful to someone like me, someone who has lived my life full of drama and intrigue and the constant edge-of-your-seat question of will they or won’t they? I am living a denouement after having never reached a climax. I used to be able to stir up friends and family and doctors into a frenzy over my every word, simply by virtue of being sick and bad at coping. Now I have to actually work at it. In order for people to care, I have to be interesting, now. It’s hard and frustrating and sometimes every part of me wants nothing more than to just stop.
But it’s worth it. It’s worth it, to wake up and laugh and hear people call me Kit and tease my friends without fear. It’s worth it, no matter how much I don’t believe that sometimes. And sometimes, when I am laughing without restraint, when I am suddenly, joyfully happy, when I do work and finish and learn again what pride means–I remember why.
The aftermath is messy and complicated. My body is the aftermath: I cannot hit high notes, cannot think as clearly, cannot wear bikinis around strangers. I still have to make decisions: do I do my homework or do I shower, because I cannot do both. I am still disabled and crazy. But I have decided that I am going to give this whole ‘living’ thing a try, even if I’m not very good at it quite yet.
Recovery, for me, is getting up, day after day after day, and coping. It is tedious and dull and some days I want nothing more than to stop coping and to regress and maybe die. It is constant, constant whispers in my head: but don’t you want to go back? It is constantly telling those whispers no, no I don’t. It is starting from scratch trying to do things that other people mastered when they were five. It is terrifying. It is boring. It is Over, and yet it is not. It is a terrible liminal space. There are two kinds of stories: that of the normal person, and that of the person who is in the thick of it, suicidal and starving. You are neither, and you never will be either ever again. You wake up, and you go to school, and you do your homework, and you eat and sleep and breathe, and you hate it but you have accepted that you must, and that you must learn how.
Recovery, for me, is not wanting to recover, and doing it anyway. It’s missing the times when I didn’t have to do this work every day, when I could just sit back in my chair and let my life crash and burn while I watched, uncaring. It is the days where I want, so badly, to go back, and yet I have accepted, somewhere deep inside me, that I cannot go back to that anymore. It takes so much longer to pick yourself up and climb a mountain than it does to fall off a cliff. It is also so much better.
It is going to therapy and telling the truth. It is going to therapy and lying.
It is getting a job and going to work and donating the money to charity and writing and going out with friends and talking to strangers and planning transition and college and a future.
It is learning how to be happy. It is learning how to be okay. It is learning how to deal with my emotions, emotions that used to destroy me from the inside out, and work through them and using DBT skills. It is so hard, and after the first few weeks, it is thankless work. The two weeks in which you do not self-harm because you are so happy and having so much fun will be complimented. The day where you self-harm because you want nothing more than to kill yourself instead of going to your finals and you sit yourself down and go to your finals will be disappointing. It is learning how to compliment yourself, how to thank yourself, how to appreciate yourself for not self-destructing, because the world around you sure as shit won’t do it for you. It is learning how to be okay with small steps, little pieces of progress. It is learning how to call yourself on it when you are using ‘small steps’ as an excuse to lay around not doing any goddamn work. It is learning to put on idiots doing jokes when you’re sad instead of putting on melodramatic music.
And it is worth it. It is worth it every time I make myself laugh–genuinely, not faked–when I could be screaming. It is worth it every time I write something with a happy or unsure or tentative or real ending. It is worth it every time I lay in a hammock in the sun, or read a poem, or give someone a hug, or eat cookies.
So. That’s why I haven’t been posting here. I write fiction, more, now. My own life is bland and frustrating. I have learned what ‘escapism’ means, and I’ve learned how to enjoy it. Recovery doesn’t make for good posts. It’s good for one, sure, but if I were to write a post every month like I used to, it would just be this post, over and over. All happy families are the same, and all that. Whatever. Sometimes life is boring. Sometimes that’s okay. Imagination can be fun too. So can happy endings. Maybe this will be my resolution. Maybe it won’t. Maybe I’ll be writing another post in a month. Maybe I won’t ever write on here again. I think I’ll probably come back eventually, but who knows when.
Right now, I’m just seeing where this whole ‘living’ thing will take me. So far, so good. It’s hard sometimes, but if you can give it a try, I’d recommend it. I may have spent this post complaining about it, but… it’s nice. It really, really is.