Content warning: Suicidal thoughts, Overdose, Hospitals.
I’m the type of person that sits in the corner of the room, facing outward, watching, silently observing. A people-watcher. Nosey?
I’m sat in the corner of the main lounge in the ward, and it’s dinner time so the room is busier than it is at any other time of day. I was a patient on this ward at the beginning of December as well, just a little over two months ago, and it feels uncomfortable being back here. Some of the staff double-take when they see me, recognising me from that brief previous admission. Others don’t recall me. I recognise a handful of the patients. A man, M, I would guess that he’s in his fifties, seems cheerful when he speaks but his eyes look dark and sorrowful when he’s quiet. A lady, T, who’s had a haircut since I last saw her but still wears the same big overhead headphones. A young lady around my age, K, who has needs slightly different to the rest of the patients and requires a lot of support. And a guy, D, who last time I was here was arguing with unseen stimuli almost all of the time but now he appears to be slightly more settled. I wonder how they’re doing; I find myself hoping that they’re doing OK, that they’re getting better. That they can be discharged soon, instead of remaining what I assume must be detained under section 3 of the mental health act. That their time here has been worthwhile, that they are recovering. I’m doubtful, because of my past experience of this ward, but I’m still hopeful.
The rest of the patients are different. I don’t know their names, so I find myself involuntarily nicknaming them; there’s ‘second-helping guy’ who repeatedly checks whether he can have seconds of dinner and pudding (the answer: yes, as soon as everyone else has had their first helping). There’s ‘bald guy’ who has expressed distaste about the ward and the lack of actual help he has been offered in the 19 days he has spent here (a feeling I am far too familiar with, unfortunately, as this ward is sub-standard when compared to the adjacent ward in terms of the patient support offered – they are supposedly the exact same type of ward, but I was on the other one last month for 3 weeks and they are NOT the same; the other one is far better). There’s ‘Pokemon headphone girl’, who loves to talk and seems very kind, but I find it difficult to follow the conversations that we have, as though three quarters of the words don’t ever reach the air and so most of the meaning stays unknown. All of the other patients have been fairly quiet, so I haven’t named them – there are 19 of us altogether.
I’ve observed within myself a sense of failure, due to being admitted back here again, but I know this is what is for the best at the moment. Just to keep me safe for a few days until they can put proper care in place in the community for me, because I’m not safe with the current (fairly low) level of care they have been providing me with. The doctor who reviewed me today looked at me as though I was an unsavoury character, and told me that hospital admissions were ‘clearly not helpful for me’ (my response: my previous admission to this ward wasn’t helpful, no, because you all completely ignored my needs – but my admission to the adjacent ward was a really successful three weeks in which we got my anxiety under control and my needs properly assessed and managed). So I’ll be going home in a few days, whether or not that’s a safe plan.
Another overdose, a determined one of about 90 pills at once, and a conversation with the psychiatric liaison service in which I was honest and stated I wouldn’t be able to keep myself safe if I went home, was what landed me here in the psychiatric hospital again. The overdose happened on Monday, and now I’m here. After a few days of bleeping monitors and IV treatment lines and too many wires and tests and not enough sleep, the doctors found my body had pulled through relatively unscathed. A few days of doctors worrying about my cardiovascular system, my digestive system, and my poor liver and kidneys, and it was confirmed that my blood results were back to normal, my lack of ability to walk was just due to weakness and I would be fine – physically – very soon. Onto the psychiatric ward I went, to pick up the pieces of my broken mind.
I feel guilty, for doing this again – for putting my lovely partner through this again. I feel frightened, because my head is a shitty and scary place to be at the moment. I feel like a fraud, like I’m taking up a bed space when someone else probably needs – or deserves – it more than I do. I feel uncomfortable, being back on a ward that neglected me and my needs so terribly last time that I’m actually in the middle of putting forward a very formal, very serious complaint. I feel… Poorly. Anxious. Misunderstood. Dreadful. Tired.
But I do feel fairly safe. I’m safe from myself, anyway, and they haven’t denied me any of my psychiatric medications (like they did last time, when they stopped 2 of my high-dose anxiety medications cold turkey – even though every guideline ever says to reduce them gradually to avoid withdrawal symptoms) so I’m probably safe enough in their hands too. It’s just a holding pen.
I’ll give the mental health services – and myself – another chance at getting me well. I have to, because I experienced something three nights ago that changed my perspective, twisting it slightly, making me look at my life in a different light. I will write about that separately, soon, because it’s big and important but a terribly upsetting story.
I still feel suicidal, but hopefully I can fight that feeling and get my life back on track. I will try – I am trying, I have been trying. I’ll be getting discharged early next week – they want me out of here and into community care as soon as possible. Obviously. So that I’m not their problem. I feels a bit like I’m a hot potato, being tossed between the general hospital and psychiatric liaison services and psychiatric inpatient wards and crisis services and the community mental health team. And no one wants to get stuck with me.
But someone will have to be stuck with me. I hope things improve soon.