Learning and growing

It’s been 2 weeks since I was first admitted to the Psychiatric Ward here at Hollywood Clinic. I can’t believe it’s been so long, it only feels like a few days.

I’ve learnt a lot in group therapy about calming myself down when I feel distressed, about “radical acceptance” of things I can’t change and the things I can, about learning to talk to others rationally and without resorting to panic…and today? Even though I didn’t attend class (Dr C said I could go to work), I learnt about letting go of my need to “people please”. Not fully, but every little step counts.

For me, people pleasing has taken up most of my life. It is deeply rooted in my family because I don’t fit in. I’m convinced I’m not wanted, I’m a burden and not ONE day has gone by in the last 30 or so years since my younger half-brother was born that I wasn’t told how PERFECT Jason is and how I am NOT. That literally f**ks a person up. Badly. So I go around trying desperately to get the approval and attention I don’t get at home.

That has lead me to many a bad decision. It’s led to a huge decline in my well-being – especially in my mental health – because I’ve spent so long putting everyone else ahead of myself. It’s not healthy. It’s not sustainable.

In the last 5 or so years, I’m learning to let go of the need for acceptance and approval. I’m learning to say “no”. I’m learning that EVERYTHING IN THE WORLD does not depend on ME to fix it. It’s hard to let go. It’s hard to know I’m going to annoy people if I decline their social invitations. It’s hard not to take over and want to fix everything for everyone, but I’m slowly getting there.

And today I’ve made a huge step forward.

Today is my friend’s birthday…let’s call her “Bella”. I met Bella in October on my very first admission to Hollywood Clinic. Our rooms were across from each other. We didn’t have groups together but we quickly made friends over our shared love of the UK and “a proper cup of tea”. Bella is very sweet. She’s really, really beautiful. She is soft-spoken and her words have a gorgeous “Jordy” lilt to them, letting others know she’s from the UK.

Bella is a gentle, fragile young girl and as such, she gets treated like sh*t. A LOT. Particularly from her boyfriend. He’s a narcissist and I don’t like him. I haven’t even met him, but seeing poor Bella in tears whenever she talks to him on the phone makes me dislike him more and more. What a d*ck. Honestly.

Bella and I got re-admitted to Hollywood Clinic within days of each other a few weeks ago. I was sad she was in a bad way again but SO HAPPY to know my friend was in hospital with me. Lol.

Anyway.

Because today is Bella’s birthday and I’m aware she’s oceans away from her family in the UK, her boyfriend doesn’t give any attention to her and I haven’t heard much about her friends…my automatic “I will save you!” mode kicked up. I was up almost all night last night planning the BEST day for Bella. I’d spend a fortune on helium balloons to fill her hospital room. I’d order the BEST (very expensive) birthday cake for her, I’d spend my entire savings on gifts for her and wrap them lavishly in expensive paper and silk ribbons. I felt that I needed to make up for her ENTIRE FAMILY and SOCIAL NETWORK.

Photo by Jill Wellington

Just me.

Yep.

This is what I have done in the past and although it’s been received really well “Wow, thanks Janet! Cool!” it’s left me majorly in DEBT and has taken a huge toll on my mental health.

So I have to let go.

It is not my job to be the fill-in/replacement for Bella’s UK family.

It is not my job to fill the hole in her heart put there by her asshole boyfriend.

It is not my job ALONE to make her birthday a happy one.

So.

Instead of spending all of last night blowing up balloons for her hospital room, I went to bed. I did that because I am now at work and I needed the rest FOR MY JOB.

Instead of spending my ENTIRE SAVINGS to get Bella’s approval by buying her expensive gifts, I set aside $20 to spend on gifts. I LOVE to give gifts, I really do – but I have to reign it in to something my bank balance can cope with. I also wasn’t sure what to buy Bella. I know the last time we were in hospital, Bella had a love of colouring but no pencils of her own. She was stuck with whatever odds and ends the hospital could provide, so she did her best with about 9 gel pens. I’ve brought her a full set of really nice coloured pencils and a full set of coloured markers. If I could have gotten my hands on gel pens, I would have got them, but I only had 30 minutes for lunch and $20…so I hope she likes what I bought for her.

I did my best with what I could at the time. That is another important lesson for me today.

When I don’t know what to get a person, I think “What would I like?” and I bloody love plants, so I also bought Bella a baby Peace Lily in a pretty pink pot. Research says that Peace Lily’s clean the air around you really well, they’re pretty and bright and I think it will add some cheer to Bella’s hospital room. I hope she likes it and isn’t allergic to plants. Fingers crossed.

Photo by Thiea Alhoz

So I haven’t gone all out on Bella’s birthday, I’ve just gotten a few thoughtful items.

That will have to be enough because that’s all I’m capable of giving at the moment.

I’m really proud of myself today.

Photo by Luke Webb

Yass Queen!!! Look at me go!!!

JD YOU ROCK!!! xx

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