The Causeway

Some posts come already written. This one has felt like pulling teeth. It has been drafted – and then redrafted; started and abandoned a dozen times. Some versions have been too painful; some detached; a few political; none quite right.

As I have only a few days left, I’m just going to spit it out –

The last treatment unit that I was in is under consultation. It might be a victim, like so many crucial healthcare provisions, of the current cuts. I do not want to get too much into the politics but it also feels deeply wrong to just stand back.

Once upon a time there was a girl who had stopped believing in life. And this girl had been ill for as long as she had been well and so she had forgotten how to hope, and she had forgotten how to live.

I arrived at the Causeway in 2003. It was a year after I had finished my degree, and followed four years where I had been in and out of hospital care and, in the process, had lost contact with the real world. It was the last stop.

For over two years, I worked with the team there to turn my life around. It meant going backwards to go forwards, peeling back the layers and building them up again. It was slow and painful and uncomfortable and lonely –

And yet, it is also the foundations on which I now live.

Once upon a time, there was a girl who had forgotten how to hope. And, because this girl had forgotten this thing on which we build our lives, she needed someone to hold it for her for a little while. To reach out a hand and believe what she couldn’t see for herself –

I did not recover fully at the Causeway but I developed the foundations that have allowed me to move on. These were not about weight or food or body image – they went far deeper to self belief, and hope, and self esteem. They were built up slowly and over a long period of time, grown through a mixture of intensive support and trying life out.

- and gradually, this girl was able to take back a little bit of this hope and take on a little bit of this belief. And slowly, the skills that she was learning began to filter through her behaviour and reach the emotions on which her illness had been made.

I have been a whirlwind of activity this month. It is part of the reason this post has been so difficult to write. I have been working and playing hard. There has been music and friends and learning and connections; lazy days in the park, nights in bars, pitches and training, dancing, trips to the theatre, a weekend away –

Each and every day I am using the skills that the Causeway gave me, and I have finally reached that once impossible goal of a fulfilling life. It is easy, now that I am getting comfortable, to forget that –

Once upon a time, there was a girl who had totally lost touch with the world and for whom recovery was something in which she no longer believed. And this girl was fortunate enough to work with people who were convinced that she had a future, and gave her the help she needed to re-build her life.

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2 Responses to “The Causeway”

  1. Helen says:

    Hi Melissa,

    I’m glad you’re doing well.. and thank you for coming “back” to write how you feel about this.

    The threats and cuts to NHS services feel like an axe hanging over the head of all of us… but when you have an eating disorder often the first response is to think about a service for people with schizophenia or dementia or something “real and truly awful” being under threat… and feeling so horribly guilty about the help you are currently getting (and not making much progress even with!) – and worry not just that it will be axed (because you really need it!) but also that it WON’T (because you don’t deserve help for your stupid made-up “voluntary” illness”!)…

    Does that make sense?

    Obviously, when I think about the other patients on the day programme I’m currently attending, of course I agree that they totally need the help – and would be up in arms if it looked likely to be closed! (There have already been changes and staff cuts…)

    Menatl health is such a soft option to cut… unless you know someone dependent on services….

  2. Melissa says:

    Thanks for your comment Helen and totally makes sense. I guess that’s one of the hardest parts about treating the illness – the grey area that makes it possible to assume blame and ownership. I was really fortunate in the length of time that the Causeway gave me and the support that made me realise it was far from clear cut and that I was as deserving of the help as others. I wouldn’t be here without it.

    Fortunately, and although I know they are cutting back many other services, I found out last week that the unit will remain open and, whilst they are making some changes, these don’t look like negative ones. I was really pleased and slightly surprised – and I hope that other services putting up a fight can be as successful.