Escape

The rucksack on my back wasn’t exactly packed with things I would need to survive for the rest of my life.

Other than my wallet, all I’d had time to stuff into it were several pairs of socks and pants.

I’m sure there are some people who can make a tent, a jacuzzi and a 4-course meal out of socks and pants but, alas, I am not Bear Grylls. 
Still, given that I'd packed in a grand total of three minutes, due to my urgent need to run away from those attempting to force me into a psychiatric unit, I think I did pretty well.

Fresh underwear at the ready, I took a bus to the train station, and, once there, purchased a ticket to Exeter St David’s. I chose this destination for two reasons; one, I went to university in Exeter and two, I knew where the nearest Costa coffee was to the station.

Even if you have a Mental Health Act assessment rapidly approaching, planning for tea breaks is essential.  

As I stood on the platform waiting for my train, my excitement at escaping was replaced by a sudden terror that something in my plan was about to go horribly wrong at any second.

I felt jumpy, paranoid, and afraid.

Every time the lady on the tannoy piped up to alert people of a platform change, I feared she was telling passengers to tackle the bespectacled person on platform 10 to the floor, so she could be carted off to the loony bin.
Every footstep nearby was, in my mind, the footstep of a policeman poised to seize me like a criminal.

When the train arrived I leapt on, watched the doors close and as the platform disappeared to be replaced by fields rushing past the window, I felt overwhelmed by relief.
The worry almost disappeared.
Almost. 

My phone rang. It was my mum. She'd heard about the Mental Health Act assessment and I was nowhere to be found. Where was I? 

My immediate reaction was to lie. Those of us with eating disorders get very used to lying. But the whole day was so strange and unusual, I just came straight out with the truth.
Truth always wins, doesn’t it?

I told her I was on a train. Unfortunately, given my history of huge anxieties around public transport, she thought I was lying. Great.
This was fair enough, though. Even I couldn't quite believe I was on a train, but it’s amazing how many frightening situations you can force yourself through when trying to avoid an even more terrifying one. 

I carried on in my vain attempts at honesty. I told her that I was OK. I was feeling calm, and just fancied a little break. Really I was fine!

It was only as I said it that I realised how much of a whopping great load of bullshit that was.

I wasn't ok at all. I was terrified. I was on a train to Exeter, alone, hungry, with nothing but a week’s supply of H&M underwear.

What the Hell was I doing?

. . . 

Liz Fraser