‘I can section you to stop you leaving. I don’t want to do that, and I don’t think you want me to do that.’
Not words I expected to hear today…
(It’s like that episode of Peep Show where everyone tries to get everyone else sectioned. God, that’s a good episode. Might have to watch it later. That and the dead BBQ’d dog one. Absolute winners.)
Felt pretty groggy when I woke up this morning, because sleeping pills. Also felt a bit more lonely than usual. Think it might be cuz no one came to wake me up – that’s always nice – and I don’t really know any of the staff on this morning.
Regular morning routine again. Meds, coffee, shower, dressed, hair, bit of makeup. Washed my hair today cuz I was feeling particularly crappy (physically and emotionally), so I knew it would make me feel a bit better. I still don’t have a razor cuz it’s at my last hospital, so I couldn’t shave. But by the time I’d washed my hair there was this alarm going off and the shower wouldn’t work anymore. Apparently, an alarm goes off and the water supply stops when it thinks that the shower has been on too long to avoid patients trying to flood the place. So that’s great, cuz it means when I do get my razor back I’m not actually going to have enough time to shave. Also, the alarm goes off for like 5 minutes, and is piss annoying.
Once I was done, I went out to get some water, and bumped in to one of the APIP nurses (psychologically trained nurses). THEY ARE COMING TO SEE ME THIS AFTERNOON! Both of them! I did an actual little actual jump for joy (oh, little did I know!…). Since I’ve been admitted I’ve been doing a lot of self-reflection and work on myself, but it’s all off my own bat, and I don’t know if I’m fucking getting anywhere. I feel like I’m just kind of being penned in here, so I’m really looking forward to taking a step forward.
Got loads of other shit done this morning too.
– Paid the solicitors who are sorting out my flat purchase.
– Filled in the paperwork for that, and spoke to them a couple of times on the phone.
– Sent some stuff off to my mortgage broker.
(I genuinely cannot believe that I am buying a property while I’m on a psych ward)
– Sent my mum a big fat shopping list (which I’m sure she really appreciated)
– Phoned my last hospital and reminded them to send my stuff over.
– Did some writing.
– And texted back everyone who messaged last night but I was just too drained to reply to.
Having really chatty mornings atm. Reminds me of being a teen on MSN messenger when you go from one chat to the next chat, and then the next chat, and then the next chat, and then by the time you’re back to the beginning there’s a fresh message waiting for you. So that’s really nice.
Heard from some new people too – an old school friend, my hairdresser, and someone who works for the same company but I’ve never met before, so that all meant a lot to me.
Every message means a lot.
Tried to curate my playlist a bit more by going in to one of my other playlist and picking out songs, but it was just so painful. So many songs about love and relationships, so many songs that remind me of my love.
The worst thing of all – it’s not even a joke, it genuinely makes me really sad – is that I actually cannot listen to Carly Rae Jepsen anymore. And if you know me at all, you’ll know I fucking love CRJ.
All of her songs just remind me of how much I love him, and then I get really fucking sad, because I miss him so so so much.
Just before lunch I headed out in to the communal area and they’d been making this big collage thing about coping techniques and stuff. I’ll have to poke my head out a bit more to see what kinds of things like that are going on, cuz I had no idea. Thing is, they’re all coping strategies that I know, like having a bath or a cup of tea or stuff like that, but when I’m in the moment, and the thoughts are spiralling, they’re the last things I can possibly think of doing.
That’s why I need help.
If it was just a case of having a cuppa and a bath then I think I’d be ‘reet, and I definitely wouldn’t be here.
Lunch was OK. Tuna gratin with wedges, and then I had a cheese and onion pasty after that made me really think of Greggs.
Oh, I miss Greggs. I want a steak bake.
Sat out for a bit after lunch, then the radio came on, and the music started. Lovely lovely love songs.
So I was out. Straight back to my room.
As it happens, shortly after that the shouty lady started shouting for no reason, and after about 10 minutes of it going on non-stop, I lost it. I stormed out, yelled ‘Are you fucking serious?!’, and then slammed my door back behind me.
Had a chat to one of the staff this afternoon about getting a sick note, and also about coming off 10 minutes obs, cuz it’s just pissing me off now. This is day 11 of me being monitored every 10 minutes 24/7, and it’s so intrusive.
Also let her know why I wasn’t sitting out in the communal area. Explained how I have no skin, and so everything really really hurts.
I knew that the APIP nurses were coming to see me in the afternoon, so I just did a bit of colouring until they did – didn’t want to wear myself out, cuz I knew it would be hard work.
I had no idea how hard.
They made me go through everything bad that has ever happened to me, EVER.
Bad things that have happened, bad things that I’ve done, bad things that happened years ago, bad things that have happened in the past few weeks…
And because it wasn’t just at A&E or at Ward Round with the Doctors, because it was with basically psychologists, they probed a bit deeper with everything.
We talked a lot about my current anxieties regarding the relationships around me, and the feeling that my life can never return to the way it was (great job, great friends, the most wonderful man in the fucking world by my side).
At the end, they gave me a pack (like a workbook) that we’re going to work through over the coming weeks (told you I’d be here a while), and went through some basic mindfulness/breathing exercises that they want me to practice over the next week until I see them again on Tuesday.
After that I had some PRN sedation (because my brain was firing off all over the shop), and went to my room to play Risk on my tablet. Shouty lady was still shouting, so I went to the nurses station and asked if I could get a ‘packed lunch’ (just a sandwich and some crisps that you can take away) for my dinner, instead of going to sit in the dining room. She bought it to me in my room (I didn’t eat it though) along with a bowl of chips. Bless her.
By this time, I was totally wiped, but my parents were already on their way to visit. In hindsight, if we’d known I was going to be seeing APIP, we would have rearranged the visit, but it all happened pretty quickly.
As soon as they got here, I felt really overwhelmed. They’d bought me loads of stuff, including packages from friends that they wanted me to unwrap by the nurses station to make sure they had nothing dangerous in, and I really just wanted to be in a room rather than out where everyone else was. Talking about all the bad shit really sparks off my PTSD and makes me super sensitive to noises (like shouty lady).
Sometimes I wonder why I’m in hospital. Like, I think I’m fine actually, and I don’t deserve a bed here. But it’s nights like these that remind me how unwell I am, and why I need to be an inpatient. I have wondered about whether to share what happened next, or how much to share, how much to edit out. But I want to be 100% candid about this. If I just share all the good times – the highlight reel of my time in hospital, what’s the point? Hopefully I can look back on it too in the future, and remind myself of how strong I am because I’ve come so far. I’m going to have bad days. Things are going to be shit, things are going to be hard. Things often get worse before they can get better. It’s all part of the journey, and that’s what this is – #nofilter.
But honestly, the rest of this post is pretty brutal, so hit the back button now if you want out.
I chatted with my parents for a little bit, and then my Dad asked if any of my friends were planning on coming to visit. It was just one innocent question that sparked off so many things we’d touched on in my APIP session earlier. I totally lost it. Not very proud of myself, but I threw a bottle of water across the room, and started shouting (*screaming). I was so upset. All of the staff gathered around the door, and one of them came in to supervise. The patients said this morning (the next day) that they’d heard me too, and asked if I was OK.
It was at this point that my Dad said, ‘I’m leaving now, bye’, and just left. I feel so abandoned anyway, and then my own father walked out on me. I was absolutely distraught. My mum explained that it was probably just the retired Dr in him, that his instinct if a patient loses it is to just leave – she said how he’s been bit and stuff in the past by patients. I was like, I’m not a patient though, I’m his daughter.
Eventually, he came back, I hugged both my parents, and they left. I think from then on the staff pretty much put me on 1:1 supervision. I had some more sedation, even though I’d already had some.
I felt so black, so dark, so abandoned, so lonely, that the only way I could see (again) was out. I did some googling, and while the staff weren’t watching me, I pulled on the shower rail to see if it would take my weight, and looked for something to use. But I knew deep down it wouldn’t work. This is a psych ward ffs – I’m here so I can’t try and kill myself, and they have rigorous measures in place to ensure our safety.
I remembered at this point that I am informal (I am not sectioned – I’m not legally being held here – I am here of my own free will), so I could just leave if I wanted to. I went to the nurses office and told them that I wanted to leave. They told me that because of their duty of care to me, they couldn’t let me. I started bangin’ on about my human rights, and kept reiterating that because I wasn’t sectioned they couldn’t legally hold me here.
The nurse looked me dead in the eye and said to me, ‘If you are a danger to yourself, which you are right now, I can section you to stop you leaving. I don’t want to do that, and I don’t think you want me to do that.’
Then I started trying to open cupboards and fire exits, but of course, they were all locked.
It was at that point that I felt completely hopeless and just cried while staring at the wall.
The staff kept checking on me, and one of them finally really got through to me.
His name is Julius, and he is such a kindly old man. His eyes and smile just radiate kindness. He said to me, ‘It hurts to see you like this Lucy, in so much pain. It is going to be OK. It might seem like there is no hope, but there is always hope.’.
When I was with my boyfriend on the outside and having a hard time, he would always say ‘It’s going to be OK’, and it was honestly the most reassuring thing in the world. I always believed him.
He said that he felt he always made things worse for me, but he has no idea how much better he always made me feel.
I checked my phone and saw I had a message from an old acquaintance. She thanked me for sharing my life via this blog. She said that she had been struggling recently, and my journey had hit such a chord that she had been to the Doctors that day to up her meds and get on the waiting list for CBT.
That message completely changed my mindset. Even just re-reading that message right now, and writing about it has bought me to tears. To know that not only was someone there, but that I had actually helped someone.
I had had a positive impact on someone’s life.
It seems like recently all I have had is a negative impact.
I feel like a plague.
Just something that’s making people’s lives more difficult.
That’s one of the reasons why I got so upset when my Dad asked about my friends earlier – I feel like I am just all those things to them. Nothing positive.
But I actually helped someone, and that changed everything.
At this point, I went to the nurses station and asked for,
1. The things that had been bought to me that evening.
2. All the meds they could fucking give me.
I just wanted to stop feeling – to switch my brain off.
As it happens, the charge nurse was all over it, and had already called the Duty Dr to prescribe me a one-off dose of a fast-acting antipsychotic which has sedating effects.
When I took my stuff back to my room, I saw that I had jerky and other foody treats from my parents, makeup that I’d asked my mum to pick up for me, and two packages…
One was three books from a friend from school. I say a friend, but we were more like acquaintances. It meant so much to know that someone was thinking about me.
The second was from a friend I had at uni. It had a card (my first actually! 😊) in it, and all the goodies below. It also had some wool and a crochet hook, but obvs those got taken off me and put in my contraband box. The amount of effort that had gone in to it was overwhelming.
It’s amazing how much these gestures lifted me up.
I know that not everyone knows what to say to me atm, especially the people who I see every day, but just to know that someone is thinking about me lifts my spirits so high.
The next nurse that came on duty said that often she feels like a glorified prison guard, and she’s right. That’s what this place can feel like – a really nice prison. I’m allowed home comforts, and everyone’s being nice to me, but without my freedom, my friends, my family, and of course my love, it can get so so lonely. And with me being so paranoid (pretty much why I’m here), it just gets so intensified in this environment. Even though I know (especially after this evening) that it is the best place for me.
After that, the meds kicked in, and I watched Drag Race while eating crisps, pepperamis, and chocolate buttons.
Had a chat with the lovely nurse who bought me my sleeping pill, and went to sleep, hoping for a fresh outlook in the morning.
Sorry for the overshare.
But I think a lot of people think that Mental Health can be quite ‘glamorous’ and ‘trendy’. You know, like Britney trashing cars and shaving her head (I realise that’s so 2007, but still, everyone fucking knows about it), celebs checking into rehab because they took an overdose, Stephen Fry fucking off to Belgium… It’s all over music too – drugs, self-loathing, self-harming, feeling alone and misunderstood… Films, like ‘Girl Interrupted’, ‘Fight Club’… I’m sure there are plenty of TV shows too – like particularly I remember Effy’s breakdown in Skins (showing my age there).
MENTAL ILLNESS IS NOT GLAMOROUS.
If you have good mental health, you are so so fucking fortunate.
Mental illness is not mysterious, deep, or interesting. Mental illness looks like being covered in cuts and bruises, walking around with your hood up and headphones in, screaming and crying, being restrained, being handcuffed, kicking things, throwing things, and just general fucking mess and pain.
That’s all I want for people to understand.
I’m not writing this to be interesting, alternative and complex.
I’m writing this so people understand how fucking savage it is.