‘It takes getting everything you ever wanted and then losing it to know what true freedom is’ Lana Del Rey

True Freedom

Words that ring true for me.

What is true freedom? It’s a question throughout my recovery that I’ve had to ask myself each day, sometimes more. Right now, as I sit in a coffee shop sipping on the Organically-sourced rich chocolate-coloured liquid, I define it is being at liberty to do whatever I want.

To put it plainly, I do not have total liberty; I am still being assessed on a daily basis by medical personals and my parents to ensure I take my medication and that I don’t become ‘overwhelmed’.

True freedom for me was what I had when I was travelling; where I could come and go to places across the Asia-Pacific area with little structure. Every day was an adventure; all I needed were my clothes, passport and of course a little money. The regular checks I now have are a far away cry from the autonomy I experienced through spontaneous travel. Friends came and went, there was no expectation of continuity and I did not need to justify my actions; I did what I liked. Having said that, I met some people who will stay with me forever. Some friends were mere tear drops in an ocean, whilst others, the glue that held and to some extent, still holds me together.

Yet although I am experiencing a curtailed version of freedom, I appreciate every single facet of it. In the words of Lana Del Rey, it took ‘losing everything’ to realise what I had. Being institutionalised was one of the most harrowing experiences I will ever face; I was incoherent, disinhibited. My short-term memory crumbled and I could barely string a sentence together, the world for me did not make logical sense. As a result of this episode I lost all of these liberties. Forget coffee, I had to ask staff members for my toothbrush; daily rituals that to us all seem second nature, were catastrophic battles.

Freedom for me now exists as being able to meet with friends locally for non-alcoholic beverages. Sometimes I’ll go to their houses or we’ll spend some hours together talking and shopping in London. I exercise regularly and this adds structure to my day, along with the reassurance that any weight gain from medication is kept at bay. I am still in contact with ex-work colleagues, and their success both fills me with joy and sadness. Joy because some of those who were my friends are doing exceptionally well in the real-world and I am proud of their accomplishments. Sadness takes over when I realise the set-back this diagnosis has caused, leading me to wonder if I may have excelled as they have had I not been unwell at all.

My life is on hold whilst the world spins around me. I am stationary whilst life moves on swiftly. But I have to remind myself that all this was necessary, the diagnosis, rehabilitation and medication; all necessary and pre-emptive. It is a blessing in disguise that this happened at the beginning of my career rather than in the middle; at least I was in training and not mid-project.

Since I have hit rock-bottom I now understand the only way is up.

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