Part one of many
I stopped cutting myself in 2002. I got cut many more times after that, but I'll talk about that later. 2002 was a new beginning for me. I was finally moving away to London, leaving the small town paranoia behind; starting 'life' as I'd built it up to be - bright lights and impossible dreams.
Back in the green pastures of Somerset where I grew up, I'd truly learned what it was to be in the 'out crowd'. I was the target of anyone with an axe to grind, or a name to call. Even a baseball bat to brandish. I prided myself on being able to outwit any of them - but inside I melted away, a sticky mess of emotions and insecurities. After school was over, I could reinvent myself, and after my first failed attempt at college, and subsequent second attempt, university was my last resort.
Getting this far had been problematic. I'd narrowly avoided a year long sojourn at The Priory (yes, the celeb infested hotel-cum-hospital) in favour of rejoining the rest of society, and was now teetering on the brink of breakdown after another horrific break up. Moving to London couldn't have come at a worse time.
Although I was older than all the other freshers, I felt like a child in a world I couldn't quite fathom. I distinctly remember sitting in my new room in halls of residence, surrounded by boxes of stuff that I knew would never fit into the single wardrobe and 3 drawers and wondering why the hell I'd signed up for this. But it had come down to a choice - move into an eating disorders unit, where I'd not be allowed to eat with the other patients for two weeks, go outside, or use a proper toilet, or pretend that I was cured and go to university. I hope you can empathise with my choice...
My first year was messy, and by that I mean blighted by alcohol, lack of food, emotional turmoil and bizarre accusations of credit card fraud. The last one never happened, but was nevertheless accredited to me and added to the melee considerably. I acted out a lot that year. I'm not ashamed to admit I spent many hours crying in the shower, listening to loud music and eating Haribo as a main meal. And all this time I was medicated - so much so, that staying awake in a lecture was an ordeal inn itself. I often missed entire weeks of classes and scraped by on the written work. I had no idea what I was doing.
Looking back on that time, the one thing that stands out the most is that I didn't get to enjoy it the way I always thought I'd get to, but I bloody well did it anyway. University had been some grand ideal, bolstered by the false promise of Oxbridge, where professors take you under their wing and you spend evenings debating by candlelight in book-filled studies. The reality was nothing of the sort. My vulnerability and complete lack of readiness to be away from my limited support system meant I had a very different experience. But I have friends for life from it, and for that I wouldn't change it at all.