What she was thinking of


I know I want to jump.

I don’t know if I want to die.

I feel compelled.

I think I might need to be in hospital.

I think there might be nothing wrong with me.

I am out of Home Treatment for only 8 days before they are sourcing a bed for me.

The next day I am in hospital. I am in a different room but it looks the same as last time.

I’m not sure if I am all that ill. I think I might be a fraud.

The agitation begins to morph into an intense pain, a childbirth of emotion.

I have made a massive mistake. I beg to home.

No one will let me go home.

Please, nurse, please. Please let me go home. I am howling. I don’t care who hears me. She looks stricken.

It will be OK. You know the first few days are the hardest.

Yes, but I’m lonely. I’m so lonely. There are two men here for every woman. Two of the women will not/cannot speak. The other two are going home in three days. I am so alone.

Please let me go home, doctor.

You know what will happen if you try.

The two women cling on the face of discharge. I grow to care about them deeply. They are suffering greatly not just from mental health problems but from complex mixes of domestic violence, bereavement issues, drug problems, caring responsibilities. I find myself wanting to help them, knowing I am slipping into my historical “helping” role.

The staff warn me against this. Tom warns me against it.

I am supposed to focus on myself.

I try not to call Tom before work every day, although my very worst times are from 5.30am until I can get some diazepam at 8.30am. I it would be selfish, sending him off to work worried sick about me.

I crack. Please, Tom, please come and rescue me.

Darling, I am trying to rescue you, just in a different way.

All I can do is try to take my life in here. I try hoard my lithium. I am so angry that I fail. I hate them all, I hate my favourite nurse, I don’t want to be talked to or touched. I sleep in the shower because I don’t want anyone to look at me through the door.

My mind races.

I tell the nurses that if they don’t let me out I will abscond, that being out in London on my own with only my battery-depleted phone in my flip flops will place me at greater risk than simply just letting me go home.

Now I am not allowed out with nurses.

I watch the door. I try to get away when I’m being escorted back from fitness group on another ward but the escort is too canny. The next day I stand by the nurses’ desk, looking from the open door (it shouldn’t be open, not at all)  to my slightly sprained ankle in its flimsy purple flip flop. I don’t know if I can even make it down the stairs. I hesitate too long.

I throw myself against the frustrations of not being sectioned, yet not being free. Some crazed part of me kind of wishes I actually was sectioned so I would not have to constantly throw myself against uncertain boundaries. If it it’s going to happen, put me out of my fucking misery then. Just do it and get it out of the fucking way.

For this I am accused on Twitter of seeing being sectioned as a badge of honour, of wanting to add sectioning to my “bucket list”. I block people but it hurts, this wilful misunderstanding of a person in such distress.

The childbirth lessens but the afterpains twinge on.

I have one friend. Just one. She sleeps most of the day. The activities are not well organised. I am very alone.

My psychologist comes to visit. It takes every ounce of my will not to beg her to take her with me when she leaves. She cautions me about spending too much of my time and energy trying to help other people. As she leaves she sees me rubbing my friend’s back as she sobs at the nurses’ desk, bent double in her hospital PJs.

I draw up a manifesto in purple fountain pen. I will do anything to go home. Anything. I will take cabs back and forth to Home Treatment Team. I will place a tracker on my phone so it will ping Tom when I arrive at HTT and home again. Tom will manage a my medicines. I will call HTT in the afternoon after seeing them in the morning.

I will do anything, take anything. Anything. I tell the ward consultant and the pharmacist that I would drink a pint of Fairy Liquid at the point if they told me it would ease my pain. A drug is agreed upon.

The drug is too new to prescribe just like that. It is too expensive. It is not licensed for bipolar. The ward pharmacist cannot OK it. His boss cannot OK it. It has to be his boss’s boss. We have to wait.

The pains swells again. The anxiety swells.

I cannot manage the pains because I only know how to do that at home. I cannot utilise baths, aromatherapy, quiet, sleeping undisturbed, feeding myself comforting (and nutritious) foods, making a nest on the sofa, taking meds when it suits me, watching films on wifi, Skyping dear friends.

I know how to manage depression at home because I have been doing it for 30 years. Still no one is willing to let me go. I have to hang on for the new drug, get established. I promise that I will try.

A woman is admitted who is clearly unwell and incredibly aggressive. Every attempt at friendliness or comfort at results in more shouting, more profanity. I am terrified of her behaviour. Other, more timid women, are also terrified of her. We hide around the corner trying to avoid becoming her target as she walks by. It is hard to sleep along the women’s corridor because the yelling and the swearing and the stamping goes on all night.

Other people tell me that it is hard to sleep at the men’s end of the ward as well because she hurls abuse at the staff in the main ward all night. The ward feels dominated by anger and fear. Other women go to the desk and ask for this patient to be moved.

I cannot eat in the dining room under the constant barrage of hostility. My throat closes up. I start eating whatever I have to hand in my room.

For expressing my exhaustion and fear and overwhelming anxiety over the situation I am accused on Twitter of lacking all compassion for this woman. Or perhaps for all other patients. Or maybe for all people, who the fuck know any more.

I am told that hospital is for sick people and that clearly I am not sick and should just go home. It is implied that I am a wannabe, a princess playing at psych wards. It is implied that there is only one way to be sick. I am greatly offended, not just on my own behalf, but on behalf of all the vulnerable patients on the ward who have OCD, selective mutism, PTSD or “only” depression or anxiety, people who are psychotic yet timid. None of us, by the standards of my Twitter attackers, are properly ill. My concern for them does not count.

I shake as I stand at the hatch waiting for drugs. I shake with fear, with distress, with horror at having been so lonely, at having been in agony, at not knowing if and when the new drug will be authorised, and having been de facto detained, and at having been kicked and viciously kicked by Twitter people when I was already so, so down.

There is no news on the new drug.

The staff beg me to stay. They are still worried about the risk I present to myself, about the fact that I am not started on the new med. They believe I am still very sick. They also recognise that I cannot cope on the ward. They try to persuade me to move to another ward to stay safe and get started on the wonder drug but I can’t see how starting the process of loneliness all over again will help, nor indeed adding yet another consultant into the mix.

I come home feeling traumatised by the rapid decline and the pain and the admission. I don’t use the word lightly, and I will not let anyone tell me that I do not have the right to be traumatised by these past two weeks. It is of some comfort that Home Treatment Team seem shocked at how awful the past fortnight has been. I feel that it will take me a long time to recover. I am scared that if I could deteriorate so fast once, it could happen again.

I arrive home still with no word as to whether or when the new drug will be authorised.

I come home and I mothball my Twitter account.


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About purplepersuasion

40 something service user, activist, writer and mother living with bipolar disorder. Proud winner of the Mark Hanson Prize for Digital Media at the Mind Media Awards #VMGMindAwards
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