Possibly I will try to write more this year than last year’s two posts. Possibly.
Dear 26-year-old Robin,
It’s funny how much I still psych myself up to write these letters. In the beginning there was so much uncertainty over whether I’d be there to read them in a years time. In a sense, that uncertainty is still there, because none of us can know when one day will be our last day or what will happen a few minutes down the line. But that heavy grey cloud no longer hangs over my head. There is no longer that sense that if I am not here reading this next year it will be because I have taken my own life. There are still struggles and there are still doubts, but I am more Luna now than I have been since I was a child. My baseline is brighter. Instead of a constant grey fog, my mental skies are clear. Sometimes a pale wintery blue, sometimes a deep, warm summer blue. Sometimes there are storms, but they blow over, they’re weather and not the sky itself. It’s hard to put my finger on exactly what has changed, it’s more that I feel less empty, I feel like I can greet myself as a friend.
Maybe reading letters from my past selves is trepidatious because they list hopes I have since dashed. I couldn’t cope with the long shifts on Ambulatory assessment. Nor could I cope with the heat of Day Case Unit through the summer heatwave. I failed a placement and at the time it was heartbreaking and a part of me is still angry about the way it happened. But it made me make the decision I had been toying with all year: to transfer to mental health or not. I transferred. I still have nearly six months left of Second Year because of it. I’m no longer in the cohort with my friends. It doesn’t matter. It was completely the right decision, so in a way I am grateful that those events transpired. I have forgiven myself for what feels like giving in, because I am on the right path.
My first mental health placement was CAMHS. I have found what I need to be doing. I have found what I am good at. To say I enjoyed it would be the understatement of the century. I wanted to get up and go in. I looked forward to work the next day. I felt so appreciated. There were moments when I was genuinely asked for my opinion on patients by other clinicians including the psychiatrists. Suddenly being autistic was an advantage, because it meant I got it. It meant that all these years of struggling with mental health, of researching and learning obsessively could be put to use. I did over 100 extra placement hours. I missed it when I left. I hope you still have that drive. Being back at uni is hard. I am still so nervous about my next placement and placement 5 because I know deep down that I don’t want to be on a ward and I will struggle with it. But I am determined, because I know where I want to end up.
Over the last year, that subtle change has spread. I stopped tracking meals because when I track I know I start to obsess. Over the summer there were moments when I caught my reflection and realised not only do I look like myself, I like the way I look. At the beginning of the year I started doing RED January. When I signed up, there was a part of me that was thinking about getting abs. Getting fit. Getting my body lean and perfect. When I started doing yoga in the morning, I realised I was wanting to do it for longer not for my abs, but because I loved it. I could relax into poses because my mind was calmer. After January, I hit a stumbling block with the usual Pre and post menstrual stress. I am trying to get back into it, because it helped. On the subject of exercise, I got my brown belt at Jado and it was one of the biggest achievements of my life. I have since taken a break because I struggled with getting to Advanced class, I struggled with the change and I struggled because my one track Aspie brain had focused on nursing and not ninja class. I do intend to get back to it, because I do want my black belt and for so many years I have held onto Jado as something that I haven’t quit before the finish line. Talking of reaching the finish line, on the 24th of August last year, just after I turned 25, I passed my driving test on my first genuine attempt. I still don’t enjoy driving, but I feel more confident now. I know that I can drive and I know that nobody is perfect.
In some ways I have been more creative over the last year with altering clothes and making puppets, but I have written less. It isn’t so much that I lack the muse, it’s that I lack the motivation to sit down and write. My mind has been so wrapped up in other things. Even in my endless daydreams I am a nurse now.
Socially I am much more relaxed, and my relationships are stronger. Narnie is not my only port of call. Twice last year I had the pleasure of seeing Willow, I hope there will be more occasions in the year to come. There are still times when I feel like I’m sitting under a harsh spotlight watching myself from the outside over analysing what to say and how to say it. Those times are becoming rarer and I am becoming better equipped at navigating them. I have learned to take myself as I am.
Hopes for the year:
I hope you’ll have stuck out mental health nursing
I hope you’ll be doing placement 6 with CAMHS (and maybe even have a job lined up!)
I hope you’ll be back at Jado
I hope you’ll be doing yoga everyday
I hope you’ll have written a short story or maybe more
I hope you’ll have completed the DBT course
I hope you’ll have done some ACT training
I hope you’ll be writing a sentence a day
I hope you’ll have moved to Appletree
I hope you’ll have stopped picking your skin
I look at how far we’ve come and I am so proud. I do things in my own time at my own pace, as Luna would. I hope I will only continue to live, learn and experience the ocean of life.
I love you,