True North

My snow globe has no true North. From my position at the edge of the clearing, my back against the frosted bark of a tall bare tree, if I hold out my compass needle, it will swing with absolute certainty to point either directly to my right or directly to my left. The magnetic poles seem to flip depending on the day and the whims of the snow globe. It is interesting that North is never straight ahead, into the clearing itself. North is always in the direction of the lurking beast or towards the edge of the pit. Curious how my compass never points in the direction I profess to want to walk in.

Why is it that I cling so tightly to self-destruction that my internal compass is orientated by it? Perhaps it is simply easier to self-destruct than to be okay. Perhaps it is because as much as I loathe the glass walls around me, I am terrified that if I were to learn to be okay the glass would dissolve and where would that leave me? Inside my snow globe, I am isolated, I am confined, but I am also protected. I am a prisoner, but I am also an emperor. If the glass were to dissolve, I would be another person among billions. I would be free, I would be able to experience the world, but I would be a tiny speck. I would hold no cataclysmic power to shape the universe around me. Perhaps too I am afraid that even if I was to learn to cope the glass would remain, that I would be an outsider without an explanation.

So it seems that for every step forward, from that first tiptoe out of the front door of my cottage, to tearing down its’ walls, to lifting my head from my knees and looking out, I’m pulled one way or the other. I am always to one side or other of the direction I was aiming for, while I’m moving I can convince myself that I am indeed making progress. In some ways I am, but eventually I find myself at a standstill with the dawning realisation that I’ve strayed too far from the path. Eventually I find that I’ve simply latched onto another method of self-destruction. Its appearance might be different, but the result is the same. It is keeping me from living, it is keeping my library from being built, it’s keeping me from learning what it means to be okay.

I will leave you with a song by Emilie Autumn, it often reverberates around my snow globe, the sound track of my frustration.

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Letters from the Past Part 2

This is from January of 2015. Today I wrote a response to this letter. In a years time, after it arrives in my inbox, I’ll post it. So much has changed over the last year. Reading this letter was one of the few times I think I got a glimpse of myself through someone elses eyes. For the few minutes it took to read, I felt genuinely impressed with how far I’ve come and how much has changed.


Dear Robin,

I read the email from my 20 year old self today. In some ways it hurt because a lot of the things I predicted then were true. I’m still not underweight. I did have to take more time out of uni. In other ways it was a positive thing because it showed me just how much better I have become. Maybe I am still functioning on autopilot a lot of the time, but I’m not suicidal anymore. I’m not in as dark a place as I was then. I wish that I could reach back to my 20-year-old self and give her a hug. I would tell her that I might be a disappointment but at least I’m moving forwards now. It’s just taken longer than I would have hoped.
That said, are you underweight yet? I hope you are. Or close to it at least. Have you gone back to uni? I really hope you have, I think that you can do it, no matter how tough it gets. I want that first and I know that you can get it. I’ve started to look at my first year stuff again, hopefully I can keep that up. I’ve just started ACT therapy with Lee, I have high hopes for it. I think maybe it will help me develop more self-confidence and work around my anxiety so that I can achieve the things that matter instead of hiding. I am so tired of hiding!
As I write this, I’ve been restricting for just over a week, the longest I’ve gone in nearly a year. I did binge on Sunday, but, get this, I got back on track on Monday! I don’t think that’s ever happened. I’m trying to focus on that instead of beating myself up over the binge.
I’m trying to get myself together. I won’t say ‘back on my feet’ because I’m not sure that I was on my feet to begin with. I can’t turn back time, I’ll never be the girl I was at 18 again, all I can do is move forwards. Is it still recovery if I’m effectively swapping one disease for another? Can one really be functionally eating disordered? I live in hope for I see no other way of surviving. Although I still daydream, when I restrict I feel as though the glass surrounding me is beginning to crack. If it did indeed shatter, I think I could cope. When I am in the depths of depression, the glass is bullet-proof. It is a cage that surrounds and isolates me while keeping the world at bay.
So long as I don’t think too far ahead or too deeply, I no longer want to die. I do think that if another year passes and I am still not underweight then it is time to go. That lack of control is unacceptable.
I am beginning to write again. I hope that by the time you, or should I say I, am reading this, I will have started roleplaying with Lilith again. I hope I will have submitted at least one short story to a competition and begun work on a novel. Cellar, Beatrice, Enya and the Atwoods all demand attention. I hope that by now I have at least started to indulge them.
One last thing and if I were not myself I’d think I was being too intrusive, have you had a date yet? I hope you have. It would be nice to think that I had ventured out of my perpetual singledom over the course of the year.
In the hope that you have moved forwards not backwards,

Robin

Letters from the Past Part 1

Two years ago, in January 2014, in the depths of my depression, I wrote a letter to my future self and sent it through futureyou.org. I considered posting it here when it arrived last year, but didn’t have the courage to. But now that everything is out in the open, I want to share some of the darker moments, but more than that, I want to share the email I got a week ago, the response to this one, but for that to have any impact, this one has to be read first. I’m not posting this to make a point of how bad things were, I’m posting it because looking back gives me so much hope simply because I am here to look back. 
Robin,

Do you even care anymore?

If you’re reading this, then you’re alive. I’m not sure whether to congratulate you on that or despair at your inability to act. If you’re not reading this and someone else is because they hacked my email account after my death….I’m sorry. Of course it could be that in the course of a year I contracted a deadly disease or had a genuinely unfortunate accident. At the moment though, the balance of probability would favour suicide. Hence the apology. I couldn’t cope with being one of the living dead anymore. So I dropped the living part. Or that’s what I assume the reason would be anyway.
Now that was depressing, unsurprising really, given my state of mind and the fact that it’s 3am. I’m not happy. I’d say you’re not happy if it weren’t for the fact that you aren’t me, or at least you aren’t yet. Your existence is far from guaranteed. I’m fat, now isn’t that a shocker. I’ve spent much of the last week binging. There are so many excuses I could use: it was ‘shark week’ right before my period, I’m stressed over uni, my antidepressants are only just kicking back in, force of habit….honestly though I think it’s just greed and laziness. If it’s still happening a year from now then I think it’s time to carry through with those suicide plans don’t you? Unless we already have of course. I eat to hide, I read trash to hide. I live in my daydreams and constantly think ‘later I will sort out my head/clean the house/do some work/exercise.’ I tell myself ‘later this will come easily. For now it’s okay to eat chocolate because I’ll never eat it again. It’s okay to live in a fantasy land because after this I’ll stop and live as myself.’ Funny thing how ‘later’ always seems to stretch out isn’t it? Very subjective term isn’t it? Later could mean any length of time, an hour, a day, a week, a month, a year, longer even. The point is not when this ‘later’ occurs, it’s simply that it is not now.

I just feel like it’s too late already. Funny isn’t it, my life has barely started and I feel like it’s over. Much the same as my degree I feel as though I’ve failed before I’ve really begun. I’m not clever enough. Not thin enough. Not special enough. Not fit enough. Not dedicated enough. Not hard-working enough. Not creative enough. Just plain not good enough.

I didn’t get Straight A’s in my GCSEs. I came close in my AS levels, but Chemistry scuppered that plan. Didn’t make it in my A levels either. Chemistry again, funnily enough. I didn’t get into Oxford. Maybe it’s true that I’d have hated it, but the point is that it’s just another item on the list of failures. I didn’t publish a novel before I turned 18. Wrote one, yes, but never got any further because I was too shy. Too scared to see what someone else would say looking at the words I had poured my heart into because personally I knew they weren’t good enough. My sentences weren’t eloquent, my plot-line too linear. I wrote short stories, even submitted them to a couple of competitions. Not enough though. Never won. I didn’t put enough effort in, either to the writing itself or to the finding places to submit it to.

I never did the volunteering I wanted to. Applied, trained even, but was too shy to really make it work. I wanted to make a difference, but in the end all I managed was raising £60 through a sponsored silence. How hard is it to be quiet when words catch in your throat anyway? I wanted to help people but all I did was make them laugh at best and hurt them at worst. I wanted to be special, but in reality I am less than nothing.

Reality, there was a point when that word itself made me want to cry. I was younger then though. 13? 14? 16 maybe? A life defined in daydreams. Even when I was 12 years old and writing a diary I knew that while I documented my day-to-day activities on the page, a more accurate portrayal of my life would be to document my daydreams. It’s where I live, but I hope that you don’t. I live in stories, I lose myself in them so much that the characters’ emotions hurt me. I feel through fantasy, but I’m disconnected from that thing we call reality. I drift, ‘duvet days’ are the norm, it’s those days that I get up and function that are rare. I’m lost. I’ve had enough of being this person, of being defined by stories and depression. I want to be good enough. Thin enough. Clever enough. I want to be me. To feel. To live my life and not Devlin’s. Or Lilith’s. Or Lyra’s. Or Aurelia’s. Or Spinegan’s. Or whichever character I let in next. I want to have living, breathing friends and be okay with that instead of depending on the people in my mind.

I’m mad but not mad enough. Are you seeing the pattern here?

Have you dropped out of Uni? Did you take more time out? Or did you pull it together? I hope you did. Right now I don’t think that I can. Like I said, university doesn’t feel real. It’s another one of those things I’m putting off into that evasive ‘later’. I want a First. If I don’t get a First, then I haven’t done as well as I could have. As well as I should have. I haven’t done myself justice because I haven’t been myself. An automaton with my body has sat in the lecture halls or curled beneath the duvets while I, the I that’s me, wanders through my stories and wishes she could starve herself perfect.

Help.

I want you to be okay. I want you to be present. Please be present. Face the scary things. Face the weight. Face University. Face the fear of failing and of not being enough. Write until your fingers bleed. Dance until you can’t breathe. Starve until you’re beautiful.
Please be out of this rut. It’s been so long. Too long. Years. So many years that I can’t remember if there even is a rut or whether this is just the life I was born in. I want to be able to feel again. To dream for me and not for fictional characters. That is all.

I hope that I love you, even if you don’t love me.
Robin