My attempt to escape reality was when I moved Down Under at the end of 2014.
I moved with my then boyfriend – whom we shall call “Duck”.
I made many attempts to escape reality, but this was a particularly bad one.
The beginning of the end
“Let’s move to Australia?” I suggested
“No way, I hate Australians” Duck replied
Two years later – end of August 2014
“Let’s move to Australia?” Duck asked
“Actually I’d rather get a backpack and go travelling, and then settle in Australia if we like it?” I replied
“Well, but I’ve been offered a job in Australia. This could lead to a permanent visa. We could just go and settle? Plus this is what I want” said Duck
“Ok let’s go!” Obedient me agreed
Duck then chose the actual location and departure date (November that same year). I go along with all this. Please bear in mind that before moving anywhere, I had to take care of the following list:
- Return from my holiday in America,
- Work long hours on an event I agreed to work on,
- Travel to my home country to complete a procedure (two dental implants, not boob implants),
- Pass my driving test (which was booked for four days prior to my departure to the land of Oz);
This all happened within two months, so let’s also include packing my life away in that mix of wonderful tasks.
I did it all, and I did it well. I am a perfectionist. Which to many people sounds brilliant, but in reality it’s a fucking curse.
All this travelling, procedure and driving malarky left me broke and extremely exhausted. The last thing I wanted to do was pack my life and move across the world. I ended up having a meltdown two days before I was due to leave with Duck.
“I don’t think I can go just yet, I’ve just broken a frame and tried to hurt myself with it. Something is wrong, I’m not well, something is off. Can we postpone the flight?” I cried through the phone to Duck.
“Sleep on it and let me know how you feel tomorrow. Whatever happens though, I’ll take care of you” Duck assured me.
I did sleep on it. In the end, I didn’t want to disappoint anybody – “Let’s stick to our original plan” I said to Duck the following day.
Leaving home was so difficult. I love to travel so this feeling was rather unusual for me.
Now I realise that I was petrified of moving across the world with this person. After all, this was someone who cheated, lied and proved to be disloyal to me.
Why did I go?
I still don’t understand how I found the courage to fly away from everyone that cared about me. Especially when I was only starting to recover from my last big breakdown.
Moving to Australia felt like an escape, maybe I felt like I could run and hide from my mental illness. It turns out that no, one cannot do this!
On the way to Oz, I actually turned around to Duck and said “Please don’t hurt me again. No more girls. No more disrespectful behaviour. It’s just you and me now” I pleaded.
“Oh my god, stop this already” is his response.
Oh so many red flags.
Life Down Under
Six days into our life changing adventure and I woke up with the right side of my face paralysed; half of my face was completely frozen and numb. Even blinking became a thing of the past! My right side was practically dead. No movement, no feeling at all.
At first I thought “it’s a stroke.”
After a visit to the emergency department, I was told “it’s actually Bell’s Palsy“.
I ended up needing a lot more professional help. In the end it became clear that nobody knew what was actually wrong or how to deal with it.
Within a few days of the facial palsy, I also developed this unbearable pain on my face and down my throat & neck. All this was on the right side only. My left side must have been thanking it’s guardian angel, because boy, that right side suffered!
The pain was extreme and it was always there. I have never felt pain like this.
Suicide often crossed my mind.
I used to describe it as if someone was pulling a rope out of my face, through my throat & neck. It was horrific.
I couldn’t sleep without drugs (we’re talking morphine and then some). Drinking & eating also became very difficult.
My right eye had to taped shut every night.
In general, everything hurt me, even the sunlight or the wind would leave me in agony, I was THAT sensitive.
On 10th January 2015, I woke up to find my tongue was cut and there was blood in my mouth. I was also twitching, we’re talking really sharp muscle spasms that stopped me from speaking.
On 12th January 2015, Duck and I went to see a pain management specialist. After poking me (thus leaving me in even more agony!) he decides that there is nothing he can do.
He also did tell me that twitching and chewing on your tongue is something that happens during a seizure. Funnily enough, that is exactly what happened – I did have a small seizure, and then I had a bigger one.
On 13th January 2015, I woke up in a hospital bed with no recollection of the previous day.
I am then told by Duck and various doctors that I had a tonic-clonic seizure (a type of generalized seizure that affects the entire brain) and that I had been unconscious for hours.
In short – my boyfriend woke up at around 3am with me having a fit, and an ambulance was called. We were so new to Australia that we didn’t even know the number for an ambulance! Luckily, we had Australian flatmates who did.
Apparently I was shaking violently (think The Exorcist) and eventually I just stopped moving and stared into space (again, The Exorcist), and repeat.
In the ambulance they sedated me (I was told) and in hospital various test were carried out, including a lumbar puncture or spinal tap.
I spent a few days in hospital.
It was eventually explained to me that I had Ramsay Hunt Syndrome. This is basically Shingles which affects your facial nerves. This results in paralysis and extreme pain to the surrounding area (Bliss). The pain actually has a special name, it’s called Post-herpetic neuralgia. I’m so fancy.
Oh and my seizure was a result of the crazy mix of medication I was given; it was a delicious cocktail of morphine, pregabalin, oxycodone, codeine, tramadol, amitriptyline, ibuprofen, paracetamol plus three or four others.
I was literally taking drugs every hour of every day. If I wasn’t so in need of those drugs, I could have made a lot of money selling this shit. This is good stuff!
Anywhoozle, it was too many drugs; I basically overdosed on legal drugs. I was rock ‘n’ roll and didn’t know it!
When I was discharged, the hospital was kind enough to provide me with speech therapy.
My case was so rare that I ended up having two speech therapists come over to my house every day for over two months! They treated me as their little project; I was their guinea pig (which worked out well because they gave me 150%). Once my treatment with them was complete, they actually did use my case (including beautiful photos) in training material for future reference.
I made great recovery, and luckily I now have full movement of my face again. Phew!
The paralysis lasted approximately six months. Long enough, I agree.
Unfortunately, in this time, I also had complications due to the lumbar puncture (When I fucking fuck shit up, I fuck shit up! Go big or go home!).
Following my lumbar puncture, I was left with Cerebrospinal Fluid leak. This basically means that a hole is left where the needle was injected for the lumbar puncture, and fluid from your brain keeps leaking through this tiny hole in your spine until it is closed up somehow.
- Severe spinal headaches (which are more severe in the upright position and are alleviated by lying down with the head lower than the chest)
- Horizontal diplopia (double vision)
- Change in hearing
- Blurring of vision
- Facial numbness
- Tingling of the arms
I was so unwell, again, that I ended back in hospital. It was so bad; any movement left me in tears from the severe headaches and the nausea.
A week after my lumbar puncture I was taken into theatre for a special procedure called Epidural Blood Patch. This is a surgical procedure that inserts your own blood into the area with the leak, in order to close the hole in the dura mater of the spinal cord.
This left me so extremely stiff (on top of the original Ramsay Hunt Syndrome pain) that I needed help with any minor movement, including sitting on my high toilet seat frame. Needless to say, I loved Australia (Not).
My mum eventually decided to fly out to Oz to help us. I felt awful that she had to pay for a ticket and travel all that way because of me, but I couldn’t have been happier to see her.
Duck did try to be there for me; he helped me pay for most of my hospital bills and he also kept me company in hospital. Still, I don’t think I’ve ever felt so lonely in my life.
During all this physical illness, I was also experiencing extreme anxiety. Duck mocked me once saying “What, you can’t even go into the kitchen on your own?!”
I will never forget how small, low and worthless I felt when I heard these words coming from someone I trusted to understand and take care of me.
About a month after, I left the hospital for good, a pain specialist asked me “why are you still here? You’re not well and your mental health is deteriorating. You and your partner don’t know anyone here, and you need a lot of support, or you won’t get better”
Those words sent me packing. After four months, I decided to give up on this “adventure”. Within days, I was on my way back home.
It hit me that I was only still living this hell in Australia, because I didn’t want to disappoint my boyfriend. The same boyfriend who fucked up bad for years. I went through this for a boy. On top of it all, a boy who didn’t deserve it. I also later found out that he was actually saving half-naked photos of women he found online.
I had a near death experience and my “partner” was being a pervert and creeping on other women whilst telling me this was such a difficult time for us.
Later I also found a message from him to a friend saying “I would so fuck Kirsten if I could”. Kirsten (not her real name) was a work colleague of his, who loved to talk about having a threesome. He also told her my life story, including the mental illness I was working so hard to hide.
I remember once feeling like the luckiest girl in the world simply because my boyfriend came home with a bouquet of pink roses. He was holding a teddy bear (I love a fluffy companion) and had two tickets to a burlesque comedy night.
I couldn’t believe my luck in finding such a wonderful boyfriend. Then whilst we were out, he would interrupt me to fucking messages this colleague he “would like to fuck”. Yeah, I’m so lucky.
Maybe he did love me but just didn’t know how to respect me. We’ll never know.
Australia is definitely one of the worst times of my life.
This is going to sound crazy, but I am grateful for that experience now.
This experience taught me a lot; I aged ten years thanks to this.
It forced me to stop. My body mentally and physically stopped working, this gave me no choice but to stop everything.
Analysing my life and my choices was no longer an option. I’m more aware and wiser now. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not wise…just wiser than before.
And I’m still on pause mode, trying to recover from this plus many other fuck ups. But I’m finally okay with that.
Also, what a way to learn that self-care is a priority! Ha!