Today I unpacked a little wheelie suitcase. To the casual observer it would probably have looked as if I were off to a weekend in Barcelona or Prague or somewhere, trying to get by with just a carry-on bag.
It was actually the bag I packed because, for the second weekend running, we thought I might well need to go into hospital. I’d packed clothes and toiletries and a novel and a colouring book and pens and earplugs and a sleep mask and my spare phone cable. I had three days’ worth of everything; enough to get by until Tom could bring other stuff.
At some points that full suitcase was a comfort because I knew I could go in if I needed. At others, it generated a feeling of practical relief, that we had been so sensible, so prudent. One night I lay awake because it terrified me, the thought of going back.
As I sobbed and sobbed to the Home Treatment nurse on Monday she expressed her concern that I was quite obviously not coping in the community. I was having more and more paranoid thoughts around technology and the same old banana skin thing. I was very low; I wasn’t suicidal but I knew that every day I felt that weariness would grind me down, that every piece of “evidence” that I was being persecuted would eat away at me until I didn’t want to be alive.
On a scale of asking (rather than being told) to go into hospital I was at 99% that day. I was desperate the relief of not having to looking after myself. I decided to give it one more day.
Things have turned around. I am maybe a little high, but my God is that preferable. I am on week three of aripiprozole and now at therapeutic dose, waiting to see what it will do for me. I have just put the T-shirts back in the drawer and the bag of travel toiletries in the bathroom cupboard.
Yet part of me still hankers after hospital. Even now. Even now my friends have gone, even now I would be on one of the treatment wards I fought hard not to be moved to, even though I am not at risk to myself or anyone else.
I’m getting into the swing of therapy with psychologist Ellie now. In this coming week’s session we’re going to try and unpack why it was that my hospital stay meant to much to me and why I am drawn to going back. There’s a lot of stuff there about boundaries, about how I both crave and kick against rules, both loved and loathed the ward.
I guess we’ve reached the point in therapy where things are going to get messy.
I hope I’m strong enough.