Hospital, Part 3: The Positives

May 24, 2010

I don’t think it’s too far from the truth to say that hospital saved my life. I am as of yet unconvinced that this is a good thing but it’s definitely a thing of one sort or another and as such deserves a mention. Post-admission I’m now feeling a lot calmer and more in control. I wouldn’t go as far as saying I was happy but I’m undeniably better than I was and that’s a start.

I also had a chance to understand my diagnosis slightly more. It now seems to officially stand as Borderline Personality Disorder with a recurrent depressive illness. This complicates matters because when I get down it could be for one of two reasons. Either it’s one of the intense short term mood swings that come from the BPD or it’s a more long-term negative trend from the depression and somehow I have to learn to distinguish between the two. That sort of insight would be useful. For a start if it’s depression, it can be medicated whereas there’s no point in medicating the BPD crazies. On the subject of medication, my Venlafaxine’s been upped to 375mg daily which is the maximum possible. It seems to be helping for now and I hope that continues to be the case because otherwise it would mean starting from scratch with something new and that terrifies me.

Other positives? Well the food wasn’t as inedible as I’d expected, I met some interesting people and most importantly of all I learnt that hospital isn’t as bad as all that and is something I could face again in the future if it became necessary.

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Hospital, Part 2: The Ward

May 22, 2010

So from nowhere there I was, having my bag searched to ensure I wasn’t carrying anything too exciting and being given a guided tour so I knew where everything was. I can honestly say that I was terrified. I mean mental hospitals are full of crazy people right? I don’t belong there, I’m fine. I refused to make eye contact with anyone and don’t think I said anything much for the first 24hrs other than to phone friends and let them know where I was. This made friends happy, they’d been pushing for hospitalisation for a while and were just glad I was somewhere safe.

As a new arrival, I had to be assessed and admitted by the doctor. Unfortunately he was rather busy and so didn’t get to me until 1am by which point I just wanted to be home and in bed pretending none of this had happened. I slept badly that first night. Somebody in the dorm snored, the mattress was hard and I missed my duvet. It all felt like a particularly bad dream.

Eventually, though I started to settle to it. People weren’t that scary after all, in fact with one or two exceptions they were all really rather lovely which I’m ashamed to say surprised me. I don’t really know what exactly I was expecting but everybody seemed so “normal” and that was very reassuring. I took part in scheduled activities in order to break up the day, everything from Yoga to Dealing with Anxiety and many more in between. I don’t feel I contributed anything useful or learnt much that I didn’t already know but the presence of other people was comforting. I was safe for once and that quietened the thoughts in my head that are hell-bent on destroying me.

It’s so easy to become institutionalised. Up at 9, lunch at 12, dinner at 5, meds and then bed at 10. Repeat indefinitely. I read books, eventually almost finding the ability to concentrate that I’d been lacking for so long. It wasn’t perfect, I had to keep rereading chapters and I’m not sure I could tell you the plots of the books even with that but at least I tried.

On the third night I started getting visitors. I nearly cried, I was that grateful to people for coming to say hi. Even though they probably only came out of a sense of duty, it was good to talk to people I knew and be reassured that it was all going to be ok. Plus friends bring chocolate 🙂  And colouring books… There’s something slightly wrong with a Cambridge educated geologist sitting in the middle of a mental hospital ward contentedly colouring in a join the dots dinosaur! Was fun though.

Although boring, I found the environment secure and the structure relaxing. My head was quieter than it had been for a long time and for a while I was almost what I’d describe as calm.


Hospital, Part 1: The Admission

May 17, 2010

A week ago I saw my psychiatrist. Things were bad but to be honest they were no worse than they had been for a while. In fact, I felt slightly more in control than I had done for a little while. I told her about the overdose (the NHS is that joined up that she hadn’t been informed) and how I was planning on doing the same thing again as soon as I got the chance. All things I’ve said before. But something must have changed, the Crisis Team were mentioned, the word admission raised its head. But I didn’t understand, I was the same as I’d been for weeks, why would I suddenly get help now?

I went home fully expecting to hear nothing more about it and when it got to 5pm I started to relax, safe in the knowledge I’d been overlooked by the system one more time. 1730 and my phone buzzed. It’s the Crisis Team, can we come and assess you? I didn’t expect much from the encounter. Their previous advice on encountering me in an acutely suicidal state included go for a walk and go feed the ducks. Good for minor depression perhaps but hardly likely to be a lifesaver.  Anyhow, I digress… We talked and I thought things were much as normal, some advice to read a book or go for a run was sure to follow. Something though was different and that admission word popped up again combined with the words “immediately” and “for your safety”. This wasn’t the plan. Not how things were meant to go at all. Where was the patronising self-help tips? The judgemental and snide remarks?

So I packed a bag. What does one need for incarceration in a psychiatric hospital? Some clothes, a book, my knitting. And there I was, being driven off to what, I didn’t really know and waiting for my thoughts to catch up with the speed of the change of direction of events.

‘Parts: the rest’ are to follow as and when I write them. I don’t want to stress myself too much by attempting to write everything at once.