Well, whaddya know. Within literally 2 hours of me writing my vitriolic blog post, I was visited by my newly appointed psychiatrist. The psychiatrist, a woman (I forget her name), spoke to me again about my symptoms. I feel like over the past ten days I’ve been raking over the same stuff over and over again, telling them the same things, hearing myself talking like I’m listening to somebody who isn’t me, about all of the surreal, frightening and distressing things that have been going on in my brain. I’ve been wandering around my flat which has become a total wreck since I lost my sense of who I am, hungry, but unable to eat. I’ve been staying awake all night panicking, scared of some unknown force that breeds itself inside my head; a ghostly, gaseous smog that fills the volume of any room I occupy. She didn’t take any notes but she didn’t need to, I expect their system is full of files about me that all say the same thing: ALERT! ALERT! MADWOMAN ON THE EDGE OF SANITY!
And that’s been precisely the point. I’ve tried to time this all well; I could feel myself standing on the precipice between who I was and the madwoman I was about to become, all the signs were there, the subtle changes of mood, thoughts and behaviour that Early Intervention taught me about so long ago. Thoughts dropping out of my head. Basic personality shifts. Alternating between sleeping all day, and not sleeping at all. Appetite disturbances. Overstimulation. Changes in perception. Tactice, auditory and visual hallucinations. Paranoia. Feeling my surroundings had changed. That I had changed. Fear. Panic. Restlessness. But crucially, I still have insight, enough insight to beg for help (and boy did they make me beg). If I’d been left another two weeks, I would no longer have had that insight, because I know my patterns and I know how it works. I would have been sectioned, and, under section, would have had no option but to take the bed in London I was offered because when you are sectioned you give up a lot of rights. I didn’t want that to happen, so I cried for help.
Because there were no NHS beds on any wards, I’ve been sent to a place which is essentially an acute mental health ward, but also a complete oasis of calm and is run privately. I’m told that if there are no NHS beds but it’s seen as an emergency, they start to ask around the private places. I won’t need to pay for my time here.
I was initially assessed AGAIN, asked yet more intrusive but necessary questions about my sex life, my appetite, my personal hygiene, everything. She went out of the room and left me on the leather couch, looking at the inspirational posters on the walls and returned back within ten minutes and said “You’re in”. I felt a sense of relief overcome me.
She showed me around; there’s a relaxation room, and if you see someone is in that room apparently it is de rigeur to leave them, and to not disturb them. There’s a kitchen full of food and an open fridge policy, there is a basement where I was earlier on doing my nails with all of the beauty supplies they have on site (I shit you not) and where they keep a plethora of musical instruments, art supplies and craft things to distract yourself with. Providing it’s not at a time when your daily therapy is scheduled, you have free run of the complex and resources. They want you to distract yourself as much as possible. They asked me what medication I brought with me and they counted it out in front of me. They will count the medications every day to make sure I am indeed taking them. If I show signs that I am not taking them, they will make me take them in front of them, which is fair. They’re treating me like an adult, and not like some kind of drunk baby, which is how I’ve been feeling some of the social workers I’ve met recently have been approaching me.
The girls I met in here so far are really nice, cannot for the life of me remember their names, but there are two that I met so far. One is in here for bipolar (she, like me, is a “bipolar Katona”, as they say in here), another one has a personality disorder. Together we sat in the smoking shelter outside (so what, I’ve started smoking again, big deal, wanna fight about it?) talking about our crazies. We empathised with eachother; we chatted about the silliness of a lack of impulse control, the crazy flights of fancy we’ve respectively taken ourselves on in moments of mania and recklessness, then we spoke earnestly about how depression can nibble away at you until you feel you are beginning to slowly disappear. The girl with the personality disorder sometimes comes out in fits of loud laughter, or suddenly seems tearful, then irritated, or she’ll come out with a loud exclamation and gesticulate wildly with it. She’s unpredictable, but she seems lovely, if vulnerable, and a little scared – and is covering it up well with slight aggression and a cocky front.
So. My first night in, and so far it feels calm. I still have the underlying storm rumbling within me but the promise of help and knowledge someone is constantly on site helps. They want to eventually try me on valproate or lithium, but right now have said the sensible thing to do in a crisis is keep the patient on what they already know. For me, that’s quetiapine, but they’ve hiked the dosage up by 50% and I need to start taking it in the daytime as well as the night. There’s also the diazepam they have me taking – again, not ideal, as it is addictive, but it’s working and that’s all that matters right now. When I’ve started to recover from this, we’ll look at my medication options, but for now, sedation is what is necessary, it will make me compliant during therapy, and able to construct a future crisis plan and relapse prevention.
To everyone following this blog, I am grateful to you for reading and I’d love to hear of any stories you may have yourself, or anything you want to share, in the comment box. Thankyou for following my journey, I will keep you all updated as and when.