Tonight is my second night away from the nuthouse. Yesterday morning I was officially discharged having made a marked recovery from the sheer terror of what I was going through before I landed there. I look back on the past few weeks and the rapidity of the descent into madness was quite alarming. I don’t recognise that person who I was before going into the facility, she was a very frightened, very vulnerable and very wild young woman. I can’t fully remember the whole process of it all now that it’s over, but all I know is it was frightening and I felt like I was sitting in a car with some mad driver who kept swerving all over the place and crashed into the central reservation, setting the car on fire, leaving me running out on the motorway desperately asking to be helped. And now that I’ve been helped, I’ve come out of it with just a few scratches and the strong will to never get in the car with that person ever again (Ed. this is a prolonged metaphor and also a tired, predictable one. You’re supposed to be a poet. Get your act together.) (Ed. you forgot to put the full stop OUTSIDE of the parentheses). (Ed. that’s better).
I met some really wonderful people, there wasn’t a single person there that I had any sort of dislike for. There were a whole host of different problems and traumas brought into the facility, people had suffered great amounts of violence and assault, emotional abuse, sexual abuse, rape, psychosis, drug addictions, alcoholism, delusion, and above all, disorder. The thing that united us all was that we’d all reached a point where we could no longer cope. Every single one of us in the place were under the care of Crisis Management Home Resolution Team – a very necessary service who treat you as an outpatient when there are no beds available, and who look after you after you’ve left a facility such as that one. I, myself, will need to be weaned off diazepam gently as it had been prescribed to me to take it three times a day, every day, for two weeks. I know it’s going to be a bitch to come off, and I even felt guilty taking it as prescribed. The thing about diazepam is it feels very nice. I don’t know how many of my readers will have taken it, prescribed or otherwise, but it’s normally a drug people illicitly used on a come-down. Prescribed, it stops panic attacks in their tracks, and it’s also used as adjunct therapy with a mood stabiliser or antipsychotic (the latter, in my case) to slow down the racing thoughts that come with a mental health crisis. It works. But taking it felt like I was being given legal permission to get high, so I tried to avoid it unless absolutely necessary, but sometimes I would find myself just taking a half of one, to take the edge off the day. Some days I’d be happy and perky and others I’d feel depressed and anxious. They’re also quite good for slowing down mania, symptoms of which still persisted during my first 5 days of treatment as a resident. Eventually all the drugs started to kick in, and I learnt to slow down. They offered a lot of alternative therapies too, so by the time I left I was equipped with all of these tools to cope on the outside world. I learned to relax, and simple thing like learning to breathe from the diaphragm rather than quick, short breaths from the chest, help. I managed to calm down the beginnings of a panic attack with breathing exercises and the whole thing drifted away. When I got a lift back here, there was no sense of dread. I didn’t feel scared to be here any more, it’s always quite incredible to look back on mental health crises and remember that they actually happened. I get a big episode like this one sort of once every two years. In previous episodes I have hastily started a degree in nursing, planned a new life in Paris, and turned all the mirrors in my house around because I could see the devil in my reflection. That time, I remember getting the bus into town to find any church that was open. All the way there I listened to my iPod. I believed that as the music was going into my ears, my thoughts were being transmitted out of them. Once, there was a story on the news that a murder had been committed nearby and I’d convinced myself I must have done it but somehow forgotten about it. Every time I heard a police siren, I hid. I heard the radio telling me they were coming for me. I heard a persistent voice in my head telling me to hang myself. But all of this I remember as if it happened to someone else, and I was standing there behind this glass wall, banging on it, saying “SLOW DOWN YOU FUCKING IDIOT! YOU’RE GOING OUT OF CONTROL, NOTHING GOOD IS GOING TO HAPPEN IF YOU GO ON LIKE THIS!”
As I said in previous posts, being that mentally ill feels like a malevolent force has moved into your body and feeds off you like a parasite. When you’re mentally ill, you are disabled. Just because it’s not physical, it doesn’t mean it isn’t there. Parts of your life are seriously impaired, sometimes even getting a train is terrifying. You have to take medication that will make you fat and sleepy and you may black out from time to time. You have impulses that you cannot control. In a mixed episode, you are both manic and depressed. I think a lot of my family didn’t really notice things were that bad because if you tell your family the same thoughts you describe to your doctor, they’re going to worry. If I’d have said to my mum, or my uncle, or really any of my friends “There’s a voice in my head telling me to run out in front of traffic and even though I knew I wasn’t going to do it, I stood on the pavement as the cars rushed by standing there, telling myself not to do it”. There’s a difference between suicidality and suicide ideation; yes, I was having thoughts of suicide, no, I had no plan whatsoever to act upon them. I want to live a full life, a happy life, I want to be a mad old batty woman with flyaway grey hairs who wears a lot of diaphanous black clothing. I want to have children and raise them without any gender identity and let them choose for themselves. I want to call them things like Crow and Jute. I want to write a lot of books, I want to hastily change career paths several times, I want to get married to the love of my life, divorce him, and then marry the ACTUAL love of my life. I want to have lots of loves of my life. I want to have a dark undercurrent running through me. I want to be enchanted by the idea of chaos magic and start to believe it might be real. I want to become religious for about a year before I lose my faith again. I want to take on fad diets, I want to lose 4 stone and eat 2 back on. I want to date someone famous. I want to be the famous person someone dates. I want to get into tantra and learn how to induce trance. I want to accidentally join a cult. I want to elope. I want to compose string quartets. I want to write a play and have it performed in front of me by real actors, I want to do everything, and I won’t get to do any of those things if I ever become suicidal. I’ve only been suicidal once, and that’s when I was 19, but I was taking a lot of drugs every single day and I was living with an abusive partner. But it is very difficult to verbalise what’s going on in your head, especially when you’ve learnt how to pretend everything is perfectly fine, like I have. I remember receiving phone calls during the crisis from family, and I’d be chatting away like nothing was the matter. I couldn’t tell them, “Mum, I haven’t slept in 3 days straight and now I’m starting to wonder if maybe I should move to London tomorrow because why not” or “Dad, I couldn’t leave the house today because if I did the voice told me something bad was going to happen to you”. So I put up a front. Only those very very close to me (in proximity, I should also add), who had the opportunity to see me over the course of the episode, noticed something was wrong. I had a friend a few weeks ago take me to the Walk In centre and DEMAND I get given tablets, as I had run out and decided I didn’t need them. Another friend took me to hospital and had to calm me down as I started banging on the door and kicking off, hearing voices on the phone that weren’t there and demanding I be seen by “a real doctor”. She sat there and watched as they prodded and poked me and attached things to my body to see if my mental state was anything to do with a deeper physical problem. It wasn’t. I’d just snapped.
A few people I’m aware had been saying to my ex-boyfriend, or at least threatening to, that it was his fault I was in hospital. Now, I find that a bit unreasonable. I cannot imagine bearing the burden of thinking it was solely my responsibility that someone almost got sectioned and went mad. Maybe the break-up triggered it, and maybe the way he went about it might have influenced some of my thoughts of guilt, worthlessness and hopelessness, but at the end of the day I have a brain disorder that probably is the result of a chemical reaction that other people don’t have. So if anyone has been saying that to him, please stop. Remember that once, me and this person were in love, and even though I’m still so distressed by the entire experience, I’ve had time to sit and think and I’ve realised he’s not a shitty person, he just did a shitty thing.
I looked at my iPod photos recently. They tell an interesting story. It starts out of a picture of a milkshake I had, the last day I ever saw my ex-boyfriend. Then it goes onto a picture of me looking fucking exhausted. Then some pictures of the countryside. Then pictures of me as my mood started to rapidly rise, smoking cigars and drinking whisky in a city apartment, laughing and joking, a picture of some bruising I caused on a man because he asked me to, pictures of me laughing like I’d just heard the funniest joke in the world (when I was manic, for me the funniest joke in the world was this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5qK-IwXkrT4 ), pictures of me performing poetry on stage wearing a full length opera cloak, and then suddenly a picture of a paramedic, of bandages, of sticky pads they put on your body to check your heart, a picture of the caging on the window of the door I was left in, a picture of my pupils which had turned to pinheads because of the sedatives they had me under. A picture took by a gentleman of me attempting to sleep by wearing an eye-mask because my eyes wouldn’t physically stay shut for me to sleep. Then, we see pictures of the inside of the facility. The sunshine. The relaxing nature of it all. The sign in the kitchen that said “Don’t worry. everything is going to be okay in the end.”. It’s been an exhausting process and I’m just so grateful I was saved. Last night, for example, an old friend of mine came to visit. We haven’t seen eachother in about 3 years, but our friendship is about 11 years long. We did some drinking, we smoked some cigarettes, and nothing bad happened. Nothing. My brain didn’t swerve out of control, nor did I purposefully buy myself far too much booze. I went asleep when I was tired, I didn’t force myself to stay awake. I was normal. I acted normally.
You’ve all been very supportive and since I got out I’ve realised that a lot of you are truly beautiful people. I would like to remind everyone that has helped me through this whole nightmare that I haven’t forgotten this, and won’t forget, and should you ever need to call upon me for anything in the future, I will be right there.