Second Opinion

I have just gotten back from the hospital. Six years after it was first suggested, off-label, and with a number of potentially incapacitating side effects (not for me then), I have had a series of botulinum toxin injections, to paralyse some of my calf muscles. The aim – to make walking in the splint easier, less painful. The treatment left me faint. But two hours later, I’m home. I won’t know if there’s been any effect for a couple of weeks. Hopefully, the second opinion was the best one.

Meanwhile, my housemate is reaching new second opinions. Drugs aren’t a great idea, he was addicted to them, his other crimes were serious. He is still unwell, but on the road, it seems, towards acceptance and recovery.

I remain in limbo. Every time I go to the Complex Needs service, I am reminded how useful group therapy would be – to help me cope with life – regulate emotion – make better choices. I verbally affirm my willingness to be involved in that process. Meanwhile, at work, in spite of rejecting me from a job that they [said they] wanted me to continue to do, I am being encouraged in my research- to apply for other, upcoming positions, to be an academic. The stress of my contract’s end is weighing heavy. Knowing that, if accepted for therapy, alongside it I can’t afford to do nothing – that I will have to make a decision around academia- the pull of one opinion against another – is tearing me apart.


In the background, my brain chants repeatedly, I want to die. My brain, not me. I tell it to hush, but still it continues. After months of abstention, I’ve started to self-harm again. It is release; it makes me feel better.

The psychiatrist said that in spite of all the crises – from apparently jumping from one to the next – I am resilient.  I certainly didn’t feel resilient this afternoon, as I couldn’t rise from horizontal, drenched in sweat. I don’t feel resilient, faced with my to-do list, my students, my future. I feel weak and small and stupid. That is my second opinion.


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