Talk like a Pirate day, (for those of you who need educating, that’s the 19th of September) I ended up in hospital for mental health reasons. I decided this World mental health day (Well the night before W.M.H.D), while freezing my hands off writing this thanks to the cold nights, having to stop in my parents conservatory and I can’t find my gloves to go under this quilt (they came to the conclusion me stopping with them was a good idea, it may be a good idea but in the conservatory in the middle of winter, I’m on anti-psychotics so those penguins must be real). But I decided I’d have a go at telling my experience at stopping 17 long and frankly boring days. I did mention before leaving that with all the waiting we had to do no wonder people in there were going crazy; also I’d go crazy just with lack of things to do.
I didn’t end up in there for pushing too many people off planks or going insane and over dosing on Krispy Kreme’s offer where you got a free donut if you showed up dressed like a pirate, looking back though they, especially the latter, might have been a good option. I didn’t get properly hospitalised till the Sunday (Talk like a Pirate day was on Friday). In these hospital trips I had to spend about 6 hours in a waiting room, which yes I know for some people 6 hours is nothing, trust me been there when I had a broken nose, but it could seem like eternity. Especially when you have creepy people coming in and out, injured Sunday footballers coming in with probably nothing more than a sprained ankle and a family you swear was the Spanish mob, and that’s just what was happening outside of me.
It’s hard to explain to those healthy people, but imagine you are in severe pain. Try distracting yourself from it, now on that weekend that’s sort of what I was feeling. Just not physical pain, you can easily walk into an A&E screaming in pain telling them what’s hurting, my pain I couldn’t exactly pin point. Bipolar you have highs and lows, my low was at an all time and if that wasn’t bad enough I had an hallucination voice that was a female constantly screaming in pain in my head, I had told a therapist later that I could imagine a woman burning, now I don’t know if that’s just because I’m a Supernatural fan and my mind was reminding me of the first episode of season one or what but it was horrible.
Another thing what is hard to explain to people is how I saw myself during those times… The Fault in our Stars quote, “I’m a Grenade and at some point I’m going to blow up and I would like to minimise the casualties, okay?” That’s basically it, I know seeing a mental health patient compare herself to a terminally ill cancer patient is strange and to some people wrong but that’s how I see it, it’s why I sympathise with Hazel so much. I may not have a tumour killing me but there are days were I see my mental illness as the grenade and the statistics haunt me. Being Bipolar, there is a 50% it will kill me (well statistics say I will kill myself but it will probably be the bipolar that caused that). The medication just becomes something that is keeping you alive, with out it the illness will take over, so when it feels like the illness is taking over with out the medication, the right thing is to take more right?
I over took medication, that’s the reason I was told to go to A&E. I didn’t overdose. There is a difference. For me to have overdose I’d have had to have taken a certain amount, I was close to taking it but I’d have to have taken 1 or 2 more tablets, also there would have had to be suicide in mind.
With the severe pain thing in mind, I just wanted things to stop, for the world to stop, for what I was hearing and feeling to stop. I took the first lot of tablets that didn’t stop anything that I was feeling so I took another lot a few hours after and then another lot after, meaning I took about 6 tablets. It was the doctors on Sunday that wouldn’t let me home deeming it would be a risk putting me anywhere I had access to medication.
When they hospitalise you they can do two things, well in my case three but we had done the 3rd before but that after a week I was hitting my head against a wall- and in that place I was allowed my MacBook. 2 things they can do- informal admittance or sectioning (which means you get some of your rights taken away) My case I was an informal admittance, meaning I chose to go into hospital, although I didn’t want to stop in for that long and I soon started to wonder why I had chose to go in the first place. If they had told me in that little room in A&E were I stared mostly into corners trying to keep up with the constant stream of, “What do you want to do?” that I’d be subjected to a timetable that was carved in stone, no laptops or expensive electronics and chargers had to be given in and if you wanted your phone charging you had to give your phone to the office? I may have gone for the place that made me want to bash my head in. (This is the reason I found my time there insanely boring once I started to get better I live by my MacBook)
When I got there- via taxi, massive issue considering I have a fear of taxis so another question they had to keep asking me was, “Will I jump out?”- It was scary; the whole world got squashed into this ward. It has two small gardens- one that was full of smokers, the other one I used just to get away from people. They occasionally wondered out there too, public spaces, go figure… I got my own room with a plastic mattress and even a plastic covered duvet. Guess what? The walls weren’t padded and there were no straight jackets! Sorry to disappoint you but they don’t use straight jackets anymore… also I found out on my second week there that the staff won’t had out mallets and tranquiliser guns.
As I arrived at night I didn’t get to meet many people till the next day.
At breakfast it became evident it was sort of like school, 5 circular tables full of different people. The people you sat with were the people you soon came close too and sat with every day, even though it took a few days for the relationship to get to a social level, for before that point it was mostly eye contact. For me one of the first conversations I had with a patient I had was with a woman who came in about the same time as me and the conversation was about her teddy bear, that she came in hugging… she was discharged before me so she happily laughed while I grumbled about how life wasn’t fair. It was hard to see how a woman who looked scared of her own shadow could have been in a better state than me. I have to admit I was also a bit peed off that she came in with a teddy and I hadn’t come in with something to hug- that was corrected the next day though with a cuddly squirrel.
People were in here for different reasons, some were more evident then others, one lady I made friends with was just in there for holiday. No idea why you’d want to go in there for a holiday, but then if you are happy with watching daytime tv and having a strict regime with (not so good) meals, it’s the ideal place for you! If you crossed a person who was talking to themselves looking distant, chances are they were in for mental health. There were also people in this ward in for rehab, so chances are they could disappear as they went into withdrawal. There was one case waiting in the line to get medication where one of the patients was asking another to go to the shop to get him some beer. Thankfully, it didn’t end in violence, although striking up a fight in front of a room full of staff with medication unless you had a low IQ that’s not a good idea.
One thing I loved was the staff. It wasn’t all cooed voices, caring too much; thankfully they treated us like real people. Things I hated, I think I mentioned this 3 times already the timetable. There were 3 and ½ meal times and 4 drink times. For a place that people were supposed to remain calm and sane in, they promoted a lot of caffeine, offering tea and coffee at every meal time and drink time. I did start making a theory that the amount of caffeine through the day was to keep patients awake just due to the amount of medication that had the side effect of tiredness.
- 8.30 Breakfast (meaning you had to be up before and dressed- difficult thing to do if you are used to getting up at 10, very high quality breakfast every day you have the choice between cereal and toast… there is a lot of toast in this place, if there is a bread shortage this place will go down in flames.)
- 9am- Morning medication (Also if you weren’t up by this time you’d be woken up by staff. This is where you got a catch up on the latest gossip as you cued outside the treatment room… then you silently cursed if someone was in front of you had to go in and have a full work up- blood pressure readings done etc)
- 10am Morning drink (A.K.A The first official caffeine dosage, well breakfast counted to properly waking me up this was an added extra)
- 12pm Lunch (Hospital yumminess *Sarcasm*)
- 3pm afternoon drink
- 5pm dinner
- 8pm evening drink + supper (A.K.A Hot Chocolate Tiiiime)
- 9.30 pm nighttime drink
- 10pm night time drug time (If you had sleeping tablets or like me the boringness of your day tired you out you were asleep shortly after this.)
Ok I know this wasn’t a hotel, holiday experience but I told my GP (Not the psychiatrist he’d have kept me in if I told him this)- the same one I told I’d rather rip out my ovaries than have kids so she knew how troubled my mind was- I wouldn’t plan to go back. The fact I nearly told one of the patients who I had a theory was in there due to mood issues that this wasn’t a hotel when she started using colourful language about being woken up. It wasn’t all bad either for patients like me I could go out after seeing one of the nurses just as long as I gave details on where I was going and when I’d be back, in simple terms the staff there were like over protective parents. You had to call them if something went wrong blah, blah, blah.
It did its job I’m now in a better state than what I had been- I even got to the state where I was actually begging to be discharged. It was pointed out to me though, although being happy would get me points, I was bipolar so if I over acted it they’d assume I was going manic (Ultra happy) and I’d be kept in. So, if you ever ended up like I did in hospital, take all the advice you can get, even some from the patients who have been there what to them feels like years- one woman had been in and out of their for 20 years, I think I would have snapped at the 1 month point and ended up on a more secure ward so 20 years? That woman deserves a medal or something… happy sticker maybe?
Art work seen in this post is some of mine what I did in the ward (rest of my art work available on www.nightmarecat.co.uk– weirdly I plastic bags and cables were not allowed in the ward but I was allowed to keep pens and pencils… still trying to figure that one out…