Day Seventeen

First and foremost… HAPPY HALF BIRTHDAY TO ME!
33.5 years old.
Halfway to retirement…

When I woke up, I wasn’t sure at all how I felt. I wasn’t as devastated as the day before.
But those words will haunt me forever, for sure…

‘I want to break up’

Thing is, deep down, I already knew it.
I knew that he wouldn’t change his mind. He’s a Taurus, and stubborn as they come.
And it’s happened to me so many (3) times before that long-term partners have suggested a break up, we’ve taken a few days to think about it, and then they’re like ‘let’s call it a day’ (the exact words of my first ever dumping, which still haunt me 15 years later).
At least this time it wasn’t ‘let’s call it a day, and btw I’m seeing someone new’…

A lot of people have been in touch with me, and don’t understand why he broke up with me via e-mail, or originally, a letter, so I want to set the record straight.
This blog is NOT a beg for sympathy, or trying to incite a witch hunt against my ex. That is the last thing that I want.

I completely understand why he did what he did. It’s because he didn’t want for me to try and talk him round, which I 100% would have. And that’s why he got upset when I replied – he didn’t want for me to be able to reply, he didn’t want for me to retort, he wanted to just tell me the news, and for that to be that, because his decision was made.
It’s also not like it came out of nowhere – I very much knew that this was on the cards. On the surface, yes breaking up with someone via e-mail when they’re on a psych ward is pretty savage, but I get it.
So please, I don’t want anyone to think any less of him for that. I am not playing the victim, I’m not even necessarily the victim here at all. He did what he needed to do, which I’m sure was very difficult for him, but he didn’t want to string me along, get well, and then for him to beat me down with that news.
At least this way all the cards are on the table, and I can heal properly.

Still, there is this angry part of me that began to emerge throughout the morning.

Our relationship deserved better than to be ended in a fucking e-mail.
He says he loves me – if you love someone, you don’t abandon them when they need you the most.
You don’t dump someone that you claim to love because they are too unwell for you to deal with.
You don’t tell someone that they are your ‘one’, your perfect person, that we have years ahead of us, that we will grow old together, and then bail when the first sign of adversity comes along.

Now, I know that being with me – because of my illness – has been unbearable, and it has broken him. I honestly don’t blame him, but I am still pretty pissed. There are flashes in my mind of WHAT THE FUCK, WHO DOES THAT?! But then at the same time I still love him so much, and I miss him more than anything.

I keep thinking of the good times, and it hurts my heart.
Mourning that those good times are over.
Mourning that I may never have anything that good in my life ever again.
Mourning the future that we were both so excited for.

I texted back everyone who had sent me messages the day before and I was too out of it to reply to.

And I finally started to tell people.
Saying it out loud makes it more real.

I remember when one of my boyfriends broke up with me, I was on holiday, and I didn’t tell anyone (even my family, who I was with at the time) for well over a week, because I just didn’t want to say it out loud – I didn’t want anyone’s pity. The fucking head tilt – I hate it so much.

I messaged my best girlfriends too. They are planning to come and see me on Wednesday. I filled them in on the situation. They are going to bring me Diet Fritz Kola, and I am beyond excited.
Obvs to see them too… obviously…

I am also a bit anxious about seeing them. It’s been over a month now, and there are so many different conversations we could potentially have that could go a million different ways.
Zopiclone (sleeping pill) at the ready! Or else I’ll just rehearse the million variations of the million conversations while I’m trying to get to sleep, and super stress myself out… probably end up convincing myself that they are coming to dump me too.
Stupid brain.

While I was texting, someone with rainbow hair came and knocked on my door. She said she was one of the OT’s (Occupational Therapists) and that they were having a ‘coffee morning’ in the communal area, with lattes, cappuccinos, and hot chocolates.
I was like, do you just have black coffee’?
Which they did, so I went and sat in my ‘jamas and had a coffee with a load of the other patients. Told a couple of them what had happened the day before when they asked how I was – they obviously hadn’t seen me for a couple of days – and they were all like, that’s really shit. I was like, yup.

I also mentioned to the OT that I’d been referred to them, but hadn’t heard anything.
She assured me they’d chase it up, and later on she bought me a leaflet.

I decided to have a shower, but that I really couldn’t be arsed with jeans and makeup – much more of a bare faced joggers kind of day.
I asked for my shower curtain back, and that was a bit of a palaver. By the time they found it I ended up being the only one who could actually put it back in place.
Must be a joke about ‘how many nurses does it take to put up a shower curtain?’…

While I was getting my deodorant out of my contraband box, I saw one of the APIP (psychological) nurses. We had a chat about what had happened the day before, and she said we’d go through it in more depth during our session that afternoon.

One of the highlights of the morning was the drug dog coming round to find any illegals like a proper good boy. I gave him a stroke and told him he was doing a really good job.

Dat faaaace

I also had a package! My first post that has been delivered to the ward, so that was exciting! It was from my best school friend’s family – a cake card, which consisted of a card, cake, sweeties, and hot drink sachets. So so adorable.
It really lifted my spirits when I needed it.

By the time I was dressed, it was lunch time. I still wasn’t very hungry, but had a small bit of chicken pie, a scoop of mash, and a pot of ice cream.

After lunch, I opened the package that my parents bought me yesterday.
Laundry, MORE JERKY, and a lovely card.

Oh my dear mother….

Then I started writing.

I knew that I needed to get yesterday out of my system, so that I could begin to process, and also to let people know that we have broken up.

My APIP session was difficult, but not as bad as the week before.

It was just 1:1 this week, rather than 2:1 the week before. She’s dead nice – super down to earth.
I really like her.

We talked a lot about my feelings of abandonment, where they might come from, and how I put all of that on my ex(es).
She identified that I don’t feel safe on my own (not helped by the incident in my flat last year), and that my ex filled that void big time.
He is 6’6” (even though he thinks he’s only 6’3” – he’s not – we measured), big build, older than me, and gives hugs that make me feel safer than anything in the whole wide world (I use the present tense, because I am 100% certain we will have a hug again in the future).

She said that that is a huge responsibility for one person to take on, and I wholeheartedly agreed.

We talked a lot about why I have done this (repeatedly), and how we need to get me to a place where I don’t need for that void to be filled by someone else, where I can fill it myself.

We talked a lot too about my sensory difficulties, and how those could be linked to PTSD.
She was super surprised when I got distracted by a TV in another room on the ward – she said she couldn’t hear it until I’d mentioned it, whereas it was all I could hear to the point where I couldn’t even focus on what either of us were saying.

The thing that they want me to begin with, is mindfulness.
In case you aren’t familiar, it’s a practice where you appreciate everything for what it is in the present. So for instance, when you’re doing the washing up, instead of thinking about what you’re going to cook for dinner, or what you might wear to work the next day, or planning what to say in that meeting, you focus on the bubbles, the temperature of the water, the stains on the pots, and just truly 100% focus on what you are doing in the present.

Professor Mark Williams, former director of the Oxford Mindfulness Centre, says that mindfulness means knowing directly what is going on inside and outside ourselves, moment by moment.

“It’s easy to stop noticing the world around us. It’s also easy to lose touch with the way our bodies are feeling and to end up living ‘in our heads’ – caught up in our thoughts without stopping to notice how those thoughts are driving our emotions and behaviour,” he says.

“An important part of mindfulness is reconnecting with our bodies and the sensations they experience. This means waking up to the sights, sounds, smells and tastes of the present moment. That might be something as simple as the feel of a banister as we walk upstairs.

“Another important part of mindfulness is an awareness of our thoughts and feelings as they happen moment to moment.

“It’s about allowing ourselves to see the present moment clearly. When we do that, it can positively change the way we see ourselves and our lives.

“Becoming more aware of the present moment can help us enjoy the world around us more and understand ourselves better.

When we become more aware of the present moment, we begin to experience afresh things that we have been taking for granted.

“Mindfulness also allows us to become more aware of the stream of thoughts and feelings that we experience,” says Professor Williams, “and to see how we can become entangled in that stream in ways that are not helpful.

“This lets us stand back from our thoughts and start to see their patterns. Gradually, we can train ourselves to notice when our thoughts are taking over and realise that thoughts are simply ‘mental events’ that do not have to control us.

“Most of us have issues that we find hard to let go and mindfulness can help us deal with them more productively. We can ask: ‘Is trying to solve this by brooding about it helpful, or am I just getting caught up in my thoughts?’

“Awareness of this kind also helps us notice signs of stress or anxiety earlier and helps us deal with them better.

“Mindfulness is recommended by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) as a way to prevent depression in people who have had 3 or more bouts of depression in the past.


I said that tbh, it sounds a lot like giving someone who’s lost a leg a sticky plaster. If I could focus on the here and now, I wouldn’t be in this situation in the first place.
This will take discipline – daily practice – and then once that’s been mastered, it leads on to other strategies you can use to cope with racing, spiralling thoughts, and general distress.
She wants for my keyworkers to take me for ‘mindful walks’ whenever they’re on shift, and for me to really focus on the trees(?!). So let’s see how that goes.

I know I sound sceptical.
I’m willing to give everything a try, but it just seems like a bit of hippy bullshit to me.
Gotta start somewhere though I guess.

I got back to my writing, and then one of the staff knocked on my door to see if I’d be interested in a game of Ludo with her and another patient.
It was good to play, and just have a bit of a chat, and win again – obvs. But it was a bit frustrating because the staff kept having to switch so they could go different things. I get it, that’s the life of a nurse, but it’s stuff like that that reminds you of where you are.

I like the staff member we ended up playing the majority of the game with. She has a Mickey Mouse hoodie and backpack. Today I showed her my Minnie Mouse tattoo (which I always forget I have!), and she has pretty much the exact same one on her wrist – haha!
Honestly, the staff here are ace. I’m glad I got over that blip of trust issues.

Dinner was burgers, chips and beans, which was actually pretty decent. Started talking more to some of the other patients too, which is nice.
I think someone’s getting discharged today or tomorrow though, which means a new face on the ward, so that’s a bit nerve wracking, cuz what if they’re awful?!
Just to give context of how low the turnover is, I’m still the newest, and I’ve been here for nearly two weeks…

Finally posted the break up blog (as it will forever be known), and almost immediately was hit with a wave of messages.

I’m glad that people know, and I’m glad that a line has been drawn under it – no more uncertainty.
I keep flipping between relief, anger, and sadness. I think that’s going to happen a lot.
One of the things I said to the APIP nurse earlier is that I do not want split on him.
I don’t want for me to see him in black and white, I want to see him in grey – the good and the bad, not the good or the bad.

While I was writing this, the emergency alarm went off, and all the staff ran to my friend’s room. Once they turned the alarm off, I could just hear her crying over and over again ‘I just want to die. I just want to die’. It was so upsetting. I was literally playing a game with her this afternoon, and we had lunch and dinner together.
Also, the words coming out of her mouth were the exact same words that were coming out of my mouth yesterday, and it was haunting. I know what it’s like to want to die that badly, and just have people saying ‘nope, we’re guna keep you safe’, and you’re just like I DON’T WANT TO BE FUCKING SAFE!

I’ve been meaning to do an apology post for a while now, and I still intend to. I guess this is at least a start…
To everyone I’ve hurt with my mental illness – my friends, and my family, and my ex – I am so sorry.
I barely know this woman, and it is heartbreaking to hear her like this. I cannot fathom what it must be like to hear that from your friend, or partner, or sibling, or child.
The apology post is coming. It may be a way off, but it is.
I think that seeing my friends and apologising to them in person will be the first step.

I left my room shortly after to get some water, and everyone was standing round the nurse’s station just crying and hugging each other.
One of the staff was crying, and hugging everyone.
My friend who had been asking to die was there, and hugging everyone.
The girl who banged her head the other night had done it again, and hugging everyone.
We all ended up having hugs and a bit of a cry, including one big fat group hug.
What a weird weird place the psych ward is.

Also, the floor is all being ripped up atm. No one has any fucking clue why, or wtf’s going on, but the woman who acts like a nurse wouldn’t stop chewing the workmen’s ears off, which I found particularly hilarious. She can talk for England, and has this laugh that sounds like someone hysterically crying. On the taxi ride back from the park the other day, she chatted to the poor driver the whole way about her sister’s doll collection. It was amazing.

Honestly, where the fuck am I?
What even is life?!
If you can’t laugh though, what else can you do?

The shift changed over, and one of the staff specifically came to see me because apparently we’d had a conversation last night, but I don’t remember it at all. She wanted to check how I was doing.
Honestly, I have been feeling the love. I am so in the best place for me right now.

I’d been recommended to give something a watch – Stacey Dooley: On the Psych Ward. You can watch it at the link below…

It was, I felt, more geared towards how tough it is for the staff, which it 100% is. It was really interesting for me to see that portrayal from my current perspective.
There was quite a bit of time spent on the 136 (where I spent a glorious couple of hours before a bed was found for me), and a lot of the patients throughout the documentary either reminded me of people I knew, or myself.

There were a couple of patients with EUPD (which is another name for BPD) – one portrayed as violent, and the other was a very extreme self-harmer, to the point where she couldn’t even have her shoelaces. It wasn’t like I saw either of them and was like OMG THAT’S ME, and that’s because a diagnosis is just a diagnosis, innit? It is not a label for who people are. I mean, I’m not Darth Vader, am I?

The main point that Stacey made was that the NHS is ridiculously underfunded, and that there are so many inpatients who could have been kept out of hospital if they had access to treatment in the community – mainly for talking therapies – in the first place.
It’s only because they’ve hit crisis point that the treatment begins.
It’s so backwards, and it’s what’s ruined my life.

While I was watching that, everything continued to crack off on the ward. Emergency alarms, shouting, banging, and at one point I heard one of my friends crying in her room, so went and got her some help. As I put my earplugs in, I could hear her getting ready to leave the ward, and yelling at staff that she was leaving because that’s the only way she could kill herself.
Been there, my friend.

What with all the psych stuff going on, I didn’t really focus on any of my personal woes, and I was thinking about the ward and the mental health system as I fell asleep.
I dropped off much easier than any other night I’ve had for a long time.

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