After the suicide attempt I was watched for 24 hours on a ward in the general hospital, before being assessed by a psychiatrist. The shrink was a female; not Dr M. She wanted to send me home. She didn’t understand that I couldn’t go home. I had lived in the same house all my life up to that point and after the first 6 years I couldn’t remember ever being happy there.
I couldn’t go back and be under the same roof as the woman who had caused me to be sitting there in front of the on call shrink. I just couldn’t.
I told her if she sent me home I would do it again. I was a cocky teenager and thought I knew best. With my long history of self harm and this confession she said she had “no choice but to admit me to psychiatry”. I was pleased in a sense. I thought it meant that I was finally going to be better; to be happy at last! But this was only the beginning of yet another long struggle.
My Aunties tried to talk me out of it. But of course I wouldn’t listen. I rang my parents and I’m sure the step mother was more than happy to be packing me a bag of clothes and essentials.
I arrived at the unit. I was allowed my own room with an ensuite toilet and shower. The staff went though every inch of my belongings. I had a belt, tweezers and a pin from my rememberance poppy all confiscated from me. The nurse in charge of my admission asked if I had been using the pin to cut myself. I scoffed! A pin?! The cocky teenager came out again as I replied with “No actually; I do that with a razor…”
I had a series of usual health checks. My blood pressure was low. It’s always been low, but the nurse accused me of not eating. I’d never had a problem with not eating. I had binged and purged a few times but it wasn’t for me. I loved food more than I hated being sick.
They informed me I was to be placed on a 72 hour observation before they made a care plan for me. And observed I was! The nurse watched me eat every single mouthful of my second roast dinner of the day. I had eyes on me, watching my every single move.
I can remember going to the smoking room for a cigarette. This was the first chance I had to really see the other patients. There was a mix of people, all with different diagnosis’, a different set of medications and different side effects. I was the youngest there at that point but the age of the patients went right up to people in their 70’s.
S was 4 years older than me. He had the room across from mine. He didn’t talk much at first. In fact nobody did. But I heard his Green Day: American Idiot CD on repeat all day everyday and I knew we would get along.
The first night I heard a nurse call “MEDICATION!” (To this day I still hear her voice shouting that word). I didn’t know what I was supposed to do so I queued up with the other patients at the hatch. Each patient said their name, had their hospital number confirmed from their wristband and was handed first, a small cup of pills and second a small cup of water. Their mouth was then checked to make sure all the meds had been swallowed. It was all well rehearsed. When it was my turn they told me I had my meds in the morning and all they could offer me now were sleeping pills. I declined them and went to my room.
I didn’t have much trouble getting to sleep that night. Getting to sleep wasn’t the problem. The problem was having a torch shined through the small window in my door every 30 minutes to one hour so the staff could see that, a) I was still there and b) I was still alive. If they couldn’t quite see me they would bang on the door so I would move. It was tiresome. So tiresome that I rarely made it out of bed for breakfast. I would get up for my meds and go back to bed. I spent a lot of time asleep in the early days. Getting up for food or if I had a visitor and promptly falling back to sleep.
On Thursdays it was Ward Round. Every one hated Ward Round and it was clear to see why. It was like being put on trial. You would be sat on a chair in the middle and around you in a semi circle would be Dr M, your assigned Mental Health Nurse, people from the Crisis Team, Social Services and other people from other community teams that you had never met. All judging you. All watching you to see how you were going to fuck up next time.
I didn’t see a way out of there. In fact I actually quite liked it in there. I still didn’t want to go home.
As predicted S and I became friends. I felt that he understood me. I had never met anyone else with a severe mental health problem before. It was like coming home. Of course when two people with issues befriend each other they end up swapping stories. Swapping tricks on how to deceive the staff and making plans to make the time pass more quickly whilst you were locked away….
To be continued…