This is what happened. Please don’t change your views on me. I know I share a lot on here; I guess I compensate for what I don’t say in words out loud. We all have to get things out somehow.
I cannot entirely remember what I previously posted, but I know I was on leave from the acute psychiatric ward and I thought that I was free. I was not free.
It is hard to write on here, and to be honest. I am aware that there are potentially more people reading this that know me in “real life” than ever before. This blog was initially a place just for me, or just for me to meet other people with similar experiences.
Stigma and all of that stuff has improved, but it has not gone. And while sharing experiences is good, I guess we all want some element of a private life. And yet writing is SO, SO cathartic. I am a person who expresses very little about herself and her feelings in words, or face-to-face with people. This includes professionals. One of the key things the inpatient ward has been trying with me is encouraging me to talk. It hasn’t totally failed, but it has definitely not been a success.
I have spent now, a month there. It is a month tomorrow since I was sectioned. I know this because my section lasts 28 days, and it runs out tomorrow. I had my leave revoked twice. The first time was after an appointment with my outpatient team. I was on leave, and went to see them to discuss the plan moving forward; I wanted to return and do the therapeutic community. A three day per week programme that I was thrown out of last year. Any way…the decision by them is that my risk is still too high to return. The hope was that I’d be ready by October, but now they think not, and the consequence was total discharge from their service.
I had my whole life plan based around going back. I had cancelled interviews for internships. I was ready to dedicate 1-2 years to therapy. And boom. Gone. And I melted down. I walked out. I was in the corridor banging my head against the wall. I was distraught. But they calmed me down, took me back inside, and we had a very emotional, but important talk. I realised the decision was hard for them, as much as it was hard for me. One of the nurses cried. It was painful, and the decision was made that it was in my best interests to return me to the ward for a few hours to calm down and get my head around it. Those few hours turned into a weekend when the consultant psychiatrist said there was no way he would let me leave again before the Monday.
I did go on leave again. And it was revoked. I took some meds and fell asleep. I didn’t overdose, but I took night time medication in the day time plus PRN. I was OUT OF IT, and I wasn’t answering calls from the crisis team who support me daily while on leave. And so of course boom…police knocked my door down, found me and took me back to the ward. I didn’t cope well, made an attempt on my life, was put in seclusion, and had a few days of hell.
But I am home! I had some day leave at the start of the week, then one night at home on Thursday. I went back Friday to discuss how it went and then they agreed I could come back home until Monday. It has gone…ok. Things feel unsteady. One part of me can see me going to my ward round tomorrow and getting taken off my section 2, not transferred to a 3, and being discharged completely. If not that, then being on leave for a week as a voluntary patient, then discharged. My section 2 cannot be extended, it is 28 days maximum, and that is the law. The way forward is either to take me off it, or put me onto a section 3 which is much more serious and not likely to happen at all. I am positive. I am looking into how to deal with my poor financial situation right now, I am looking at future job options, accommodation, social stuff to stop being so a damn recluse. While I haven’t in a few days, I had been working hard on my dissertation, and yeah…there are lots of positives.
But there is a part of me that knows the next 12ish hours are crucial and this is a high risk time for me. If I am going to land myself back in hospital, it will be during this time so I am on high alert. I have the crisis teams number, and the wards number. I know a name of a person from the crisis team I can ask to speak to, and I have PRN medication.
PRN medication is weird. I’ve never had it before, except for the odd week once or twice. PRN medication basically means you take it as/when you need it. I try to take as little as possible. During my first day at the ward I was angry and being kept “safe” and angry at being sectioned, and angry at being locked up. For the first time ever, the girl who never expresses anger, erupted. I kicked off and tried to escape, and this was when I found out that due to being under a section, if I refuse PRN medication when staff feel it is appropriate, it can be injected against my will. PRN medication doesn’t knock me out, but it makes the world feel slow and unreal. It’s like living in a bubble. It makes me very different. It also makes me very calm.
That first week is a long way behind me now, but I am still using PRN lorazepam 1-2 times per day. It’s a weird feeling it leaves you with. I definitely wouldn’t suggest driving!!!
I can’t believe it has been a month. A month tomorrow. I am ready to speak the words. I think I need to. Or I will feel ashamed and embarrassed and sick tomorrow when I remember writing this, and letting you read it.
A month ago tomorrow I came back to Leicester from visiting my family. I remember I went to a hospital appointment in the morning, then came home. I had some lunch while watching something on my laptop. The plan was to go to the gym, so I got changed into my gym stuff, and packed my water bottle, towel and purse in my bag, plus a Tesco bag for life as I had little food in after being away.
I was laid on the floor in my lounge (I prefer the floor to the sofa, don’t ask), and all I was thinking is, “I can’t keep on doing this.” I had been struggling for weeks with anxiety, rules, low mood, self-harm and all of the usual. The idea of going to work the next two days and facing the gym and all of my exercise rules, and then having to try do uni work while being surrounded by people…I just thought, “I can’t do this any more”. It wasn’t so much that things were worse than ‘normal’, but that I just couldn’t face doing the ‘normal’ any more.
I started walking to the gym, but I didn’t go in. I sat on a bench outside. I cried. And then the team that discharged me called me. I was gravitating towards a local multi-storey car park, and from past experience, she knew that was the risk. She tried to help me. And I wanted to work with her, but by 7.30pm (she finishes work at 5), we weren’t getting anywhere. She said we needed some outside help, and that the police mental heal triage car were going to be sent to see me. I met them in a grave yard of all places, and sat in their car. The decision was made to take me to A&E for an assessment, but while the police were discussing my situation with the nursing staff, I ran.
It was late by this point. Gone 10pm. I wasn’t thinking straight. I was walking at speed to the car park. There was no fear. There was no doubts. All of the usual thoughts that would pop into my head and stop me doing it had gone. It was a type of moment I have never experienced before. It felt like clarity. I had my headphones on, listening to a song by Halsey called ‘I am not afraid any more’, and I honestly felt like I was on one; I had the solution, this was it, and in a way I was excited. Nervously excited. Like something was pumping through my body and it was all going to be ok.
Rather than hover around the car park like I have done in the past, I went straight up to the top floor. I walked to the point where I knew it was easy to get over the edge, and I sat there for a little while with my legs on the inside of the car park. Then I moved one of my legs further towards the edge and I heard someone say my name. I didn’t turn around but I knew it was the police officers from before. They were trying to talk to me but all I was thinking is “You cannot survive this. Survivial is not an option.” and so I swung both of my legs over and pushed my arms to heave me over…
and next thing I knew my head hit the floor, pain seared through my right side…through my legs, hip, bum, shoulders, head. My hand and face was bleeding, and I was in the arms of a police officer. The police officer who saved me.
He was shaking. His arms tightly around me. He kept saying “we are going to be ok”, and “the worst is over now.”. All I was thinking was that the worst had just begun; that surviving this was going to be horrific. I kept trying to get back up. The car park security arrived, a negotiator arrived, and the two police officers sergeant. They arrested me under Section 136 of the Mental Health Act, which meant they would take me to a place of safety where I could be kept for up to 72hrs. Within those 72hrs two psychiatrists and an approved mental health practitioner assessed me, and without even the option of going into hospital voluntary, sectioned me under section 2. I was taken straight to one of the female-only acute wards.
This is the thing that stands out to me the most; since that night happened, that night has barely been mentioned. I have barely thought about it neither, and if I have, it has been brief.
You will read stories in the media and that night will be the point of the story. And yet so much has happened since. Further attempts at seriously hurting myself, having my room stripped, including all of my clothes…including all of the clothes I was wearing. There have been tears, restraints, and god…just more tears.
There have also been positive days, days with hope. Moments where I can see an alternative future for me, for my life after September. Moments where I laugh. Moments where I feel ok. Moments where staff help me to keep safe, and I feel proud of myself for letting them do that.
There have been so many important, terrifying, sad, happy and a combination thereof, moments, that nobody ever talks about. And here I am talking about them. Because I’m not out of hospital technically, yet. And it is insane what can change in a night. And even once I am fully discharged, which should be incredibly soon, potentially tomorrow…the journey from that terrible night, to where I am now, is such a small part of the journey. The journey is going to continue for the coming months, perhaps years, and people never read about that.