The butterfly challenge

I’m starting the butterfly challenge today. I hope it works, I don’t want to keep cutting every night any more. Part of me knows it’s wrong and another part is desperate to cut again.

I’ll keep updating you as it keeps going. I ran upstairs today, drew them on me, and waited for the urge to fade. It hasn’t gone yet, but I hope I can ignore it.

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Waiting for the crash

Sorry I haven’t been around- I had a bad couple of days, and then my friend came to see me because she was worried about be. She’s awesome.

The raging fire inside continued. I finished the dance school as the economic crash happened in 2009, so there were no jobs for us dancers. I had a choice- give up again, or move on and try another dance course. Again my boyfriend was in there, persuading me to give up and get a real job or go back to school- preferably go back to school, because I had a brain and I could make something of myself.

There was some little spark of rebellion in me, though- I got a place on a postgraduate ballet course that would last for a year.

Boy did his attitude change when I started doing well. The staff (apart from one, but there’s always one fruitcake) really liked me and pushed me hard. I got given a lot of parts in the tour. The other girls, especially the Japanese girls, were really nice, and there wasn’t that air of bitchiness that had been the trademark of the first ever ballet school I’d been to. I was really really genuinely happy, and when we did go on tour, we were treated as professionals, and not as naughty children, for the first time I could remember.

My boyfriend was suddenly very supportive. He stopped being quite as obstructive, and seemed to be genuinely pleased for me. When we went out to meet my mum for tea when she was in London on business, he was actually pleasant to her and they finally seemed to be getting on well. I couldn’t have been happier.

I finished the year in joint second place with my Japanese friend, and we said our farewells and promised to keep in touch. I went home, passed the most difficult ballet exam offered by the method I do in two weeks. I seemed to be on fire.

However, then the year of difficulty started, and nothing was that simple any more.

I had friends before that. I had a life, and I had the ability to speak to people without walking on eggshells, and I could say the words “I love you” without feeling like I was lying with a forked tongue.

I could trust my own mind better, and I was far less broken.

The cycle begins anew

So I spent Easter being miserable and wanting to quit. I got back with my boyfriend, or he deigned to take me back. He then spent a long while persuading me to go back to school- I still had enough time, apparently. I could go to sixth form college, I could study and make something of my life. He was pretty angry with me when I chose to audition for other ballet schools, and got offered a place at one. He kept telling me not to screw it up again, and I believed it was my fault. After all, I overreacted and panicked and took things to extremes. I deserved to get it all wrong and mess it all up.

I went to my new school. My scars were healing. My life seemed to be changing, and the hopeless despair had lifted as the summer passed.

They were good to me. They liked my dancing, weren’t worried when I got injured, picked me for choreography and shows and praised me in class. I had a good set of teachers, and I made an amazing set of friends. I hope they know I haven’t forgotten them, even though I’m not able to talk to them at the minute.

Throughout that year, my boyfriend got more and more into my head. He took all sorts of things from me- my pride, my self-respect, my common sense… I was no more than a receptacle for whatever he felt like. I was controlled to the point where I was allowed certain friends at certain times, and he charmed all the ones who would have been a threat to the point where they couldn’t see his manipulation.

So I gave up feeling angry. I gave up sadness, and irritation, and just sat and smiled. Even when third year happened, my boyfriend broke up with me because I hadn’t seen him enough and new teachers who didn’t like me… No pain broke through. I smiled inanely, whilst being scooped out and bleeding and raw inside. Even when we got back together and my degree turned out to be favouritism, not worth the paper it’s written on… I just smiled. It all burned, and I had no release. Just the smile that was not a smile. There was no question of self harm, because he would have left again.

I just burned.

History repeats itself

So where was I…

I ran into a freezing November night in 2006. I had less than a tenth of my reason left. I was quite literally insane.
I barely remember that night at all- I supposed it was my brain’s way of cushioning me from the shock, but I’m not sure now (for reasons I will explain later). I just ran.
I found myself “waking up” at three seperate times. The first was when a nice guy asked me how long I’d been at the ballet school I was at (he’d seen the logo on my thin cotton dance jacket) and asked whether I was ok. I said no in the smallest of voices so he wouldn’t hear. The second time was finding both hands curled around a railing of a bridge and one foot on the side, ready to jump. I don’t know what made me climb down. Thirdly, I remember staring at cars, wondering which to jump in front of.

I finally ended up in a pub doorway. There was blaring noise and such a riot inside, happy normal functional people enjoying themselves, that I flinched each time the door opened. I came to with tears on my cheeks, and unbelievably enough, my mobile and keys.

I listened to every single frightened voicemail message from my mum, who was in London that night to see me- I’d got so distressed I’d forgotten. I rang her, and she and my angelic friend from the floor above drove to get me- my friend’s boyfriend provided himself and his banged up van as a rescue car.

I was delirious, hypothermic and burned-out. I chattered nonsense all the way home (so I’m told) and fell into an exhausted sleep at the digs. I’d run a hell of a way across London, and I’m surprised I didn’t do myself more damage than I did- it was -2 when I ran, and gods knew how cold when I was rescued.

I didn’t go to the doctor for this.

Why not, I hear you cry?

Well, folks… It’s because in the world of classical ballet, admitting that there is anything wrong with you is a ticket to being fired. Physical injuries are bad enough- watch “The Agony and the Ecstasy” to find out how little classical ballet dancers are regarded in their own profession. Now, put that amount of derision and anger into the context of a mental health problem, but make sure you add a healthy pinch of misunderstanding and fear into the mix. That is what I faced from a less than understanding school.

I got expelled for being crazy. I could work to the end of the year, and then I had to leave.

Now tell me ballet is a nice, cushy career, and that pointe shoes don’t hurt, because I needed to hear that just one more time.

Everyone who has read this, or followed me: thank you unendingly for your patience and support.

Results

So I’m on another batch of sleeping tablets, zopiclone, same as before, and I’m also on citalopram. Nervous as all hell about this- as I’ve never asked for help before, I’ve never been on antidepressants before. My doctor told me that I will feel more depressed before feeling better, so I have a week of hell to look forward to. Wish me luck- I really hope this works. I have got to the point where I’m sick of trying and sick of being on the floor. It’s not like I haven’t tried picking myself up, it’s just that I fail each time. Miserably.

I’ll write the rest of my story in another post.

Interlude

Been struggling for the last two days with constant suicidal thoughts- the dark passenger has his claws well and truly in my back. Going to talk to the doctor in a couple of minutes about antidepressants, wish me luck.
Plus, I’ve not been eating well- haven’t been bothered or it’s tasted of ash. Gonna talk about that too.

After that…

So I went to ballet school, with other girls I’d known from my extra dancing classes, thinking I knew them. I mean, they all seemed nice, and I knew them from before. Nothing really could go wrong, could it?

A lot of them ignored me to make new friends, some of them outright bullied me, and the lovely foreign students couldn’t speak English very well. I was alone in a sea of other people. That utopian vision of dance school crumbled pretty quickly.

On top of that, the teacher we had decided she really didn’t like me, and the bullying began from that side, too. She made me feel like the laziest, the slowest, and the most stupid in class. I went from having a lot of faith in my own dancing to being terrified to lift my leg any higher than 90 degrees.

My new boyfriend was very supportive. He sat up when I cried on the phone, listened to me woes patiently, even had his mum on the phone- she was a counsellor, so of course she knew what she was doing. And little by little, he stopped me talking to the people who might have been able to fix it all- my mum and dad. He replaced them with him, telling me not to trust them because they didn’t know what was best for me, and he really did. He loved me. How could I doubt that?

I became convinced they didn’t love me. I was awake most of the night crying to start with, and then the unexplainable tiredness came, and I started to take sick days. Out came the comforting scissor blade again, and I’d hide the cuts beneath pointe shoe ribbons and my thickest pairs of tights.

The bullying, the taunting, the loneliness and ostracisation just continued. Again, I didn’t deal with it normally- out came the crippling self- hatred again, and cutting was used to punish myself for hurting everyone. (An aside- In a weird way, I want those days back now. At least I’d know why I still cut).

Eventually, my boyfriend decided he wasn’t going to deal with me, help me or even just support me any more. My cuts disgusted him. My broken dream annoyed him. He blamed everything on my parents never being there enough to see how badly I was in need of help, and that night was the first of my attempts on my life. I used those scissors to carve into my wrists, and I ran away into a freezing November night. I had spent less than three months there before I’d crashed. A new record, I think.