Day 26 – The day that everyone went mental

Dreamt about Alton Towers again. My friend looked in to it, and said that it’s to do with life’s ups and downs. Life is a rollercoaster.
She’s not wrong.

As soon as I took my earplugs out, I heard one of my favourite staff (the one who did my plaits) walking up and down the hall shouting MEDICATION LADIES, MEDICATION FOR THE NATION in her Jamaican accent, and I let out the biggest laugh.


Went for a bit of a walk, and got ready as usual. Was interrupted when I’d just got out of the shower and I had my toothbrush in my mouth, just to check I was still there. Talk about timing.
Thought of something I hadn’t thought about for ages this morning when I was doing my makeup. I had a big hair in one of my eyes, and had to pick it out. It reminded me of how I used to take my exes contact lenses out at night – he’d save it for me as a ‘treat’.
That made me sad. I miss him.

The APIP nurse came by at about 9:30, just to double confirm that our appointment was still on, which reassured me.
Our appointment went ahead as planned, at pretty dead on 10AM.

We had a bit of a catch up at first, and talked about how things have been this past week.

Then we began to look at the ‘Bucket of Overwhelm’…

Basically, the premise is that everyone has a bucket, which gets filled up with stuff going on in their life – stuff which might upset them or stress them out. The idea is to use some taps to drain the bucket, before it overflows.
We had a look at what makes up my bucket, and what taps I use to drain them.

Things that are in my bucket…
My ex
The flat that I currently rent
The flat that I am buying
My friends and our relationships
Past traumas
My ongoing divorce

She looked at all that and was just like, omg Lucy, can you not see how much that is???
Separation from my current partner, divorce, moving house… They’re some of the most stressful life events anyone can go through, and I am going through them all right now.

No wonder I am in crisis.
That was reassuring to hear.

We had a look at my taps, which was essentially the distraction plan I wrote yesterday.
You can read about that here…

We talked about what happens when my bucket gets too full, and when I do end up getting overwhelmed…
I scream
I shout
I get really angry
I throw things
I cry
I lock myself away from the world
I claw at myself
I pull out my hair
I bang my head off the wall
I hit myself over the head
I cut myself
I take overdoses
I drink
I try to complete my life

These are the things that we want to avoid, and I need to use the taps to drain my bucket of overwhelm.
I said that if my bucket is really full though, and already overflowing, how can I possibly drain it? I cannot focus on it. She said that there is a strategy for that, and we could look at it that day, or save it for next week. At that point, we were an hour and a half in to the appointment, and my brain felt pretty saturated, so we’re going to look at it next week.

We went in to further detail about the things that are in my bucket, and broke them down…

I feel abandoned.
I feel hopeless.
Being without him hurts.
I’m angry at him for leaving me.
I’m angry at myself for messing it up.
I am so upset that I hurt him – the most precious person to me in the world.

Going back in to the unknown.
Lack of control.
My ex will be around.
Worries that my co-workers will no longer respect me, or see me as able to do my job.
Losing my daily routine, and having to do a million hours of shift work.

She said that my return needs to be super phased, and I need to get back in to it gradually. Getting back to work should be the last thing on my list once I am well.

So many good memories.
So many more bad memories.
Having to face those memories when I move out.
The practicalities of moving out – the lift not working, the street being closed to traffic…

She pointed out how much worse I’d probably be feeling about being discharged if I had no choice but to go back there, and I had never actually considered that before.
It’s stressful to think about, but it’s a chapter of my life that’s coming to an end, and then I can be done with it.
I am so glad that that part of my life will be over.

It’s sad because I was due to be moving in with my ex.
There’s an underlying fear that the sale won’t actually go through (as happened with my last property).
There are financial worries, because I won’t really have enough money left over to furnish it.
But I’m looking forward to having my independence.
I’m looking forward to it being just mine.
I’m looking forward to a fresh start.
I’m looking forward to getting a pet.

The more I spoke about it, the more I started to look forward to this fresh chapter, and all of the things that come with it.

I know that I hurt a lot of them by shutting them out.
I know that a lot of them are (were?) upset with me because of how much I put on my ex.
I’m worried about there being ‘sides’ – I don’t want for them to be on his side, but I don’t want for them to be on my side either. I don’t want for there to be sides at all. After all, I genuinely love him.

Those are locked tight away in a box atm. Sometimes they creep out, but they really need to stay locked away until I am well enough to deal with them.
Right now, I am far too fragile.

The main issue was selling the house. That was when I felt the most grief for the life that I had, particularly my possessions, my cat, and my baby that was buried in the garden.
Now that is done, the only thing that will change with divorce is that he won’t be my legal next of kin, which is only a good thing. In every single letter I have written when recently trying to take my life, I have expressly written that I don’t want him to get any of my money or possessions, and then taken a timestamped photo of me with it, to prove that I wrote it.
So again, divorce is only a positive thing, something I am really looking forward to.
A fresh start.

I found the whole appointment really helpful. Seeing things from an impartial point of view made me realise that things on the outside probably aren’t as bad as I think they are, and that I shouldn’t be giving myself such a hard time, because I am going through so so much.

Once I was out of my appointment, I had a call from my estate agents to say that everything is coming along nicely, and that the searches on the property have come back all good, so everything is on track. So that’s good to hear.

Lunch was BBQ chicken with potatoes and sweetcorn. I used some of the Reds BBQ sauce that my friend had bought me a few days ago, and it actually made the meal pretty darn good.
It’s also great that a load of the patients who have been discharged over the past week ate meals, whereas the new ones don’t. So there are loads of leftovers, which means I can have seconds. Mwahahaha.

I spoke to one of the patients at lunch time about her story. She’s really upset because just lost her placement at supported living because she’s too high risk.
She told me that she was first admitted when she was 17. She spent some time at a young people’s hospital until she turned 18, and then she spent 6 months here. For a year and a half she was in supported living, until she had to come back here in January during a crisis.
I asked how old she was.
She says she’s 20 next month.
She is so young. And she’s spent pretty much the last 3 years in psychiatric care.
It’s so sad.

It wasn’t long after lunch that my mum arrived, and we went to the canteen so she could have some lunch.
Do not get me wrong, I love my mother so so much, but she is super full on! She talks a lot, and after the morning I found that that exhausted me quite quickly.
Scary lady was in the canteen. We avoided her.
After my mum had eaten, we took the short walk down the road to the shops. There is a McColl’s, a cob shop (a cob is a bread roll btw in case you aren’t from the midlands and you say it wrong), a knitting shop, a florist, a chippy, a Red Cross, and a Chinese takeaway.
We went to McColl’s and my mum got me this amazing keyring, which will be super therapeutic for when I’m walking around.

It’s like a mini sequin cushion!

Scary lady was in McColl’s too! I got quite paranoid, and asked my mum if she thought she was following me.
We went in to the knitting shop, because I thought I could maybe get some supplies to make things, but I found it way too overwhelming – too much choice.
Also went to the Red Cross, but it’s really really shit.

By this time, I was feeling quite overwhelmed. There was so much to process in my brain, and I felt like I kept bashing in to my mum while walking alongside her. It was all a bit much.

I was looking forward to getting back to the ward and having some quiet time. But as soon as I got back, a staff member whipped me off to the jewellery making workshop. I barely had time to breathe.
I knew that once I got there though I would be OK just making something with my hands for an hour or so.
I was ok, but I found it really difficult to find what I wanted, and couldn’t make decisions easily. It made me feel quite anxious and frustrated.

One of my friends was at the jewellery making workshop, and I knew that she’d had her tribunal that morning, to see what would happen after her Section 2.
She said to me completely out of the blue, ‘well that’s another six months then’.
She’s obviously been moved on to a Section 3.
I reminded her that it can be reviewed before the six months is up. She seemed quite calm about it. I reckon she was sedated off her tits.

You can read all about what different Sections of the Mental Health Act mean in this blog post that I wrote…

By the time I got back to the ward, I felt super anxious. My hands were shaking, and the nurse said she could hear it in my voice too. She gave me some PRN diazepam without question.
I played a bit of Cluedo before dinner to try and calm myself down, and take my mind off things.

One of the nurses came and found me, and said that she was aware I’d complained about smelly lady, and wanted to let me know that she’d given her a bath. Great news!

One of the other nurses came and found me, because he knew I’d take some PRN, and said to let him know if I needed to talk, or if I needed anything at all. He’s dead lovely, and always trying so hard to do things for me.

Dinner was pork chops with potatoes and carrots. There were only 4 of us eating, so I got seconds and thirds, and then the hugest portion of chocolate sponge I’ve ever seen.

I mean, Jesus.

On my way back to my room, I noticed that my next-door neighbour has had her sheets taken away from her. She must have been trying to hang herself with them.
That’s so rough, because the mattress, the pillows, and the duvet are all gross plastic.

I had a look at the stuff my mum had bought me – some nail varnish, chocolate, big t-shirts to sleep in, and cleaning wipes so I can do my bathroom. I don’t feel like the cleaners do it well enough, and it’s something I would really like to do if I’m at a loose end. It’s in my distraction plan!

My parents have been so good at bringing me things and doing my laundry. Don’t know what I’d do without them and my brother and sister in law atm.

I knew I’d be washing my hair in the morning, so I decided to take my plaits out, and my hair went like this…

I feel like I’m wearing a wig cuz my hair so big

I was watching some Drag Race when everything kicked off massively.

One of the girls in the room near me had self-harmed. She was begging to have whatever it was she’d used not taken off her. I heard her say ‘it’s not even sharp’. They tried to clean up her wound, but she didn’t want anyone to touch her. They held her down so they could do it. She was shouting ‘GET OFF ME GET OFF ME’. It was really sad to listen to, because I like her.

The emergency alarm kept going, and everyone kept running around.
It was super chaotic.

It was at this point that scary lady started to shout. She kept saying that the staff were law breakers for taking her leave off her (even though I’d seen her at McColl’s earlier that day… but it transpired later that she’d had her leave revoked after McColl’s, cuz she’d smuggled fags and a lighter on to the ward and smoked in her room).
She threatened to kill the staff, and all the patients.

At this point, I was flight or fight, and I was just frozen solid sitting on my bed.
I couldn’t stop listening to what was going on.
My body was just thinking DANGER DANGER DANGER.

It was obviously the same for shouty lady. She was in the same area that scary lady was, and just kept shouting over and over again LET ME OUT LET ME OUT.
She’d only just been out for a cigarette, so that can’t have been what she wanted.
I think she just wanted to get away from scary lady.
She was scared. I think we all were.

Scary lady can probably be henceforth known as racist lady, because she then went on a massive tirade.
Firstly, she accused one of the staff who’d just come on the night shift of being a ‘dirty bastard’ because he’d turned on her light in the night during obs. She called the black staff ‘soil’, said they all looked dirty because of their faces, and wished a hurricane on the whole of the Caribbean so their entire ‘species’ would be wiped out.

What a fucking cunt.

At this point, I was ragin’ and popped my head out. I couldn’t just sit in my room anymore.
The girl who’d self-harmed was sitting on a chair just outside her room with one of my fave staff members, who is Jamaican, plaiting her hair.
I said that it was unacceptable, and can we just get rid of her? She was an absolute cunt, and we should just knock her the fuck out.
The patient said that she’d tried, but she’d been restrained.

They took shouty lady out, and scary lady went back to her room I think. We were chatting in the corridor like WTF JUST HAPPENED?

But it wasn’t over.

One of the girls started headbanging, and then smelly lady came out of her room (who had obviously heard everything that had gone on… like, who hadn’t?!) and accused the staff of being rapists (based on them holding down the girl who had self-harmed, and the accusations of scary lady).

Because scary lady had gone, I went down to the communal area, sat with the patients, and we talked a bit about wtf had gone on.
Basically everyone hates scary lady, and thinks she’s a massive racist.
It’s reassuring to know that there are people in the same boat as me, and being able to see that the ward had gone back to normal made me feel a lot calmer. We had some hugs, and reassured each other.
(Although when shouty lady came back in, she kept shouting DIRTY BASTARD just like a parrot would.)

If anything, I felt closer to some of the other patients afterwards, and very protective of the staff. They do such a wonderful job, they don’t deserve that abuse. There was definitely a sense of camaraderie amongst all of us (except scary lady).

I went to the nurse for night time meds. I decided I would take a sleeping pill, because my head was absolutely spinning.
I asked the nurse how she was, and she just looked at me in disbelief.
‘Bedlam. Absolute Bedlam.’
Which is an apt phrase to use…

Bedlam, byname of Bethlem Royal Hospital, the first asylum for the mentally ill in England. It is currently located in Beckenham, Kent. The word bedlam came to be used generically for all psychiatric hospitals and sometimes is used colloquially for an uproar.

At this point, a new patient arrived on the ward! I was like who the fuck has been discharged now?! She said that the singing lady had gone. The new patient looked terrified (what a night to arrive) and has bags of soft toys, so I bet she’s probably alright (just wait now for me to be proved wrong…).
I said to the nurse that the amount of new admissions has been insane. She agreed. Said she hadn’t seen anything like this in ages, but that it’s because the county is just so short of beds atm.

I went back to bed, watched Drag Race, and eventually managed to go to sleep.

2 thoughts on “Day 26 – The day that everyone went mental

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