Saturday, 7 December 2019

Life on the inside: Mental Health Hospital

It's taken me a long time to finish writing this. I kept starting and stopping it because I couldn't get the right words out. I wanted to be able to express it properly, both for readers, but mainly for myself so that one day when I look back on this I can see how I felt and how far I've come since. Here goes;

At the end of March 2019, I was admitted to a Mental Health Hospital. After being diagnosed with severe depression and anxiety, and waiting for a psychologist for further testing, I had reached an extremely low point in my life. I have had depression before, but this was by far the worst I had ever had and I didn't know where to turn. I had a mental breakdown at my boyfriend's house and with his support, I turned to my GP. Luckily my general practitioner is really nice and took us very seriously. He put us in contact with a local hospital facility and support team who would hopefully help us with the next step. Originally they didn't want to admit me into a hospital, but the state that I was in just wasn't fair on my boyfriend or my son to witness. I stayed at my boyfriend's house for 4 nights while my son was with my sister, whilst the support team, called the Home Treatment team, looked for a room for me. My closest MH hospital was full as was the next closest one a few miles over. They constantly rang me and visited me while I was at my boyfriend's house to make sure I was okay (and probably to check I was alive let's be real) until a room finally became available a couple of miles away.

I'm not going to sugar coat it and tell you that everything was fine when I finally got to my room because it wasn't. Seeing my boyfriend walk away as the doors closed behind him trapping me in that ward was hard. I had to constantly tell myself that I was doing the right thing.
My room was lonely. I only had a few items that I'd packed, and a lot of stuff was taken away from me when I arrived. We were allowed our phones but not our chargers, the cord on my dressing gown was removed. No lighters, matches or cigarettes were allowed anywhere on the ward. They took away all my medication to give to me at various times instead. Anything sharp was taken away too.
My room consisted of a bed, some shelving for clothes, and a desk and chair. There was a smaller room with just a toilet in too.
I had to do urine samples and blood samples while there. They took my blood pressure twice a day. There was a camera directly outside my room and light that the nurses could switch on while you were sleeping to check up on you. Every move I made was monitored by someone. They all walked around with clipboards watching you and noting stuff down.
We got fed 3 meals a day in the communal canteen. The first time I ate in there I was anxious as hell because it meant that all the other females on the ward like me were put into this one room. The food was nice, but I mainly kept to myself. We also got snack time 3 times a day too in between the meals.

Visiting times were twice a day. My boyfriend came to visit me every single day I was in there, bringing news of the outside world and what friends had been up to. He also brought me magazines and colouring pens and paper so that I would have something to pass the time.

When the food wasn't on and visiting times were done, finding something to do was hard. Most people stayed in their rooms or went to the communal TV room but I didn't want to socialise so most of my time was spent in the small garden.
It was a bleak sort of courtyard for a garden. Most people used it to smoke out of the cameras eye when their relatives had snuck cigarettes in for them.
There was a fence splitting the yard in two, one side was for the female ward, and the other side was for the male ward. Sometimes I spoke to this one guy through the fence, from what he described the guy's side was a hell of a lot better than the female's side, but I didn't take what he said too much into consideration. We were in a crazy house after all.

I think people stay in there longer than they should because there's not a lot of things to do when you're trapped in a ward like that. Sometimes they would have a church group or an art class once a week but there wasn't a great deal to do outside your room. I think that's where it goes wrong. People are then trapped inside their own four walls, trapped with nothing but their own thoughts.

Nighttime is the hardest. The corridors are silent so you can hear whats going on in someone else's room. Most of the time you hear people crying or calling out for a loved one, but one night you could hear a girl running full force at her wall until her body thudded against the cold floor. Then alarms would go off as the nurses would rush over to her room. Her room happened to be next door to mine and the wall she was running at was our adjacent wall so it was very loud. When the nurses got to her and opened her bedroom door a strong iron smell hit me. She was okay in the end, but that was probably the scariest night there.

You never get the screams out of your head though. You lie there at night hearing everyone else crying and calling out. You hear shrills of screams and banging so you hide underneath your blanket but the screams don't stop. They vibrate through your whole body turning you cold. Your hairs stand on their end and you have goosebumps all down your arms. When will the screams stop you wonder? Then you realise you're screaming too.

I was always tired. I was always on auto mode. It was like I was a robot just going about the day. I struggle to remember a lot of what happened. I just remember the moment I fell in love with my boyfriend. The moment I realised it.
The hospital ward was always gloomy and dull. It was like a cloud was constantly over it. It was never happy or bright. I remember one day it felt particularly gloomier than other days. The atmosphere in the ward was as if someone had died. It was a really dark sort of day.
Then in walks my boyfriend to come and see me. I swear he was the literal sun. It was as if he was glowing, lighting up the corridors. And the hug he gave me. It was warm and loving. One of those hugs where you never want to let go. I had felt like I was frozen, cold. He was warm and bright. It's a weird thing to describe but I felt like I was defrosting. I remember thinking that I knew everything was going to be alright just because I was in his presence. I've never felt like that before.

And so he was the reason I got out. The nurses noticed the change in me every time he came onto the ward. I didn't feel like I was ready to leave but I was put in touch with people back home who would be able to get me further help and support.
Some days I feel like I should go back there, but I stop and remember how far I've come since then. I've completely turned my life around since that time. Literally gone from rock bottom at the start of the year to flying high at the end of the year. I'm proud of myself, but I always need to remember those dark days.


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you must go on adventures to find out where you truly belong