Anonymous, 20, Essex
as told to Yasmine Blackman
Ordering an exotic Jasmine Green Tea mixed with Jasmine blossoms, I could tell that my companion had an interesting story to share. (I like to think that a lot can be said about a person by the tea they drink.) Feeling distinctively boring with my cup of Earl Grey, we settled down and let the rather unusual teacup conversation flow between us…
Tall, dark and handsome, the man that stood before me was exactly my type. Over the loud chatter in the crowded room I locked eyes with him – I just had to get to know him. But this wasn’t a pub or some social gathering. I was in the Priory; a private mental health hospital and I’d just been admitted.
I knew I shouldn’t be focusing on men, having come out of a string of bad relationships, my mental health and esteem had suffered a massive blow. As a sufferer of Borderline Personality Disorder I had my good days and my bad. One minute I would feel depressed, the next I was angry and then I’d feel completely manic. Life wasn’t easy; sometimes I just couldn’t trust my own mind. I’d even had to quit my course at university because of my social phobia.
After one particularly bad episode, I attempted suicide, swallowing a handful of pills, it was one of the lowest points in my life. My BPD had gotten the better of me and after several bad relationships and an ex blaming me for his depression, I just felt worthless – wanted it all to end.
That’s how I’d ended up here, in the priory, and now I’d already found myself a new target. His name was Rob* and he was a quiet guy, not stopping to chat with anyone in group therapy. I’d only been at the priory for a day, but I knew already that the other patients were close-confiding in each other and genuinely caring about how everyone was feeling. I was surprised at the good atmosphere and how supportive and friendly everyone was. I didn’t feel happy, but at least I felt like I was in good hands.
Therapy was intense, but I quickly slipped in to a routine. We had sessions six days a week from nine o’clock in the morning till four in the afternoon. Often we’d have group therapy where we would share our stories. Sometimes I found this awkward, and hated to hear stories that reminded me of my own, but, intent on getting better I stuck with it.
Then one afternoon, I decided to approach Rob*. Rob* was a smoker, just like me, and I noticed he was allowed to leave the priory and go to the shops; a privilege that so far I hadn’t been awarded. I decided to ask him if he would pick me up a pack of cigarettes when he went on one of his trips. Feeling a bit nervous, I picked a time when I saw him standing alone. “Hi, erm, sorry to bother you but would you mind getting me 20 Marlboro lights when you go to the shops please?” I asked him timidly. Rob* smiled “Sure.” He said. He didn’t seem like much of a talker. I pressed my change in to the palm of his hand. “Thank you” I said, grinning.
Later that evening Rob* came to my room and handed me a pack of cigarettes. “Would you fancy coming to the pub with me and some mates tomorrow?” he asked shyly. I couldn’t believe my luck! I’d had such a bad time lately, and now here was a gorgeous guy inviting me to the pub! I wasn’t really a big drinker, but I agreed to go with him, jumping at the chance of getting to know him better. Of course, I had to make sure that I had permission to leave the Priory for a bit – but that was nothing a bit of wheedling could sort out.
The next evening I met up with Rob* and some of his friends and we headed to the pub. Chatting over a pint the conversation flowed easily and we shared the same great sense of humour. Rob* had me in stitches. For a few hours I felt my worries dissolve away; I felt like any other ordinary happy woman – it was great.
After that me and Rob* became firm friends- we were inseparable, spending every minute of every day together. We helped each other through our difficult days, becoming each other’s rocks and relying on each other’s company. Robs* anxiety often prevented him from eating in the hospitals restaurant, but when he was with me he would manage to eat a meal in there. Rob* helped me with my eating problem too, by encouraging me to eat more – we supported each other and helped each other overcome our problems. It felt good to have someone I could rely on and to know that someone needed me just as much as I needed them.
One night Rob* and I decided to sneak a bottle of vodka in to his room and get drunk. The monotony of the hospital often had us finding ways to have a bit of fun. Drinking alcohol was our favourite way to release all the pressure we were feeling and to forget about where we were. As the night progressed we got more and more drunk, and then something happened that made my heart practically stop. Rob* leant over and kissed me! I couldn’t believe it. I happily kissed him back and we spent a night of passion together.
As the days passed by the nature of our friendship changed somewhat. We were friends but there was so much more to it than that. In many ways it was an unhealthy relationship. We were so dependent on each other that, when we were separated I’d feel anxious and negative feelings would resurface. I did feel really happy when I was spending time with Rob* though; he made me forget all the bad things that had happened to me and he was always making me laugh with his silly jokes. However, Rob* was a big drinker, and he always managed to encourage me to drink with him. We started to get drunk most nights, and I began to focus less on my own recovery and more on what Rob* wanted. Whenever he said anything negative to me, I would lose it and self-harm with a broken razor in secret. I’d stopped really attending therapy sessions. I began to wonder if being in the hospital was really helping at all.
Then I overdosed. I just felt tired of everything. Finally, The Priory decided to release me, deciding that they could no longer help me. I was transferred to another hospital, where I completely lost it. I had a massive panic attack at the thought of not being able to see Rob* anymore, I was hysterical! Thankfully I wasn’t there for long, and I was soon able to visit Rob* at the hospital as a visitor. It felt strange not being a patient, after having spent months living there – but I just wanted to see Rob*. I missed not being able to spend every minute with him. I visited him every day, and our relationship progressed further, we became an unofficial couple, and I loved him with everything I had.
Then something happened that broke my heart. Rob* was released from the Priory and went back to his home in Paris. I was distraught – I felt worse than ever. I missed him so much, and counted down the days till I could see him again. Two months crawled by and he was once more admitted to the Priory. Rob* suffered from such severe anxieties that he just couldn’t cope on his own two feet. I visited him the moment he got back, but I could see that things had changed. He wouldn’t kiss me, and it was like all of the intimacy in our relationship had been lost. I was devastated. The more he pushed me away, the more I clung on to what we had had. My BPD meant that I often felt like I was being abandoned, and I didn’t react well to it. Eventually the relationship fizzled out, and when Rob* left the priory for a final time, we lost contact completely.
It’s been eight months since I last spoke to Rob* and I still think about him a lot. I now have a good job, and am keeping my BPD under control. I have come a long way since my days spent in the Priory. I understand now that neither me nor Rob were well enough for a proper relationship, and that what we had together was destructive. I guess that sometimes love really isn’t the best medicine.