This is a blog about depression. If you are easily offended or take offence to sarcastic humour, please do not read any further. Mental illness is not a joke; it is not something to point fun at and I fully understand that. BUT…when the going gets tough, sarcasm and humour is my defence and so I will be parading it around all over this blog.
If you need help, please get it. Whilst I hope this has a happy ending, I don’t know yet and given I’ve not been able to fix myself, I really don’t want others using this as a ‘How To Be Happy for Beginners v2.0’
So, this is it. This is what the inside of a psychiatric hospital looks like. Granted, it’s a private hospital so I have a double bed, en suite and a very questionable stained carpet to myself but it’s definitely a psychiatric hospital. So far, I’ve not seen even the hint of a straitjacket or table with wrist and ankle restraints. I have however, had an ECG, a drugs test and my blood taken. I’ve also had all my property checked for anything remotely dangerous, which includes plugs apparently, which is promptly taken away to be checked. I now have a nurse doing obs every 15 minutes… For those lucky enough to not be in the know, that means a nurse walking into your room every 15 minutes to check on you. Might not sound that bad, but it is, and it’s going to carry on all night until they deem me as not a risk to myself. I’m level 2 at the moment and this is a game of the higher the level, the better you are.
Once I’ve had the guided tour of the facilities, I am deposited back to questionable carpet room. There has been a lot of time just sat in my room today so I ventured onto the world on Freeview. I am a fully-fledged Sky+ girl, haven’t watched an advert in years! God bless the inventor of Sky+. This is the point I know things are getting bad, it’s You’ve Been Framed re-runs. I need to up my TV game and I need to do it quickly. It’s that or I really will be mentally destroyed. Roll up Netflix and Amazon Prime, time to do what you do best.
The next obstacle is supper. I can only describe it as like walking into the school canteen when you’ve had an argument with your friends, so don’t have anyone to talk to. Surely I am not the only one who remembers that feeling?
To the left, you have the cool kids, which in psychiatric terms means those who are so proud to be here. Their conversation goes something like this:
[keep the high school girls tone of voice in your mind when reading this]
Woman A: Well I used to be anorexic but I’ve moved on from that and now it’s OCD
Woman B: Yeah, totally! I am OCD too [slurps on Red Bull] and I hate not being able to sleep
Woman A: Yeah and did you know Amy Winehouse was here
Let’s just repeat that last one shall we. Amy Winehouse was here! Probably not the best advertisement for the hospital, pretty sure she died of an overdose.
To the right you have the addicts, those withdrawing from drugs and/or alcohol. They look awful and they are in a whole other world of pain. Right now, my humour can’t touch them.
Parallel to me are the eating disorder patients with their lack of napkins, sleeves rolled up, clear plastic glasses and, the final tell tell sign, the table monitor to ensure there is no cheating. This table may be a problem for me. I had an eating disorder and would like to think I have it under control, but control is a grey word and I am not sure how strong it is right now.
Finally, behind me is a table that seems relatively normal. Oh, the ‘N’ word sucks but let’s face it, you all know what I mean. Question time… do I sit with them or do I sit on a table all alone with eyes like a rabbit caught in headlights and all bar a neon sign above my head saying ‘NEWBIE!’.
And the right answer is, [drum roll please] I sit on my own. I’ve never liked eating alone but this takes that discomfort to a whole new level. The neon sign has just added a catchy theme and started flashing just in case anyone missed it. I swear the whole room is analysing me. That’s the thing, we are all analysing each other. I’ve done it in the few hours I’ve been here…
Internal analysis monologue:
Well, she looks ‘Normal’, I wonder why she’s here?; Oh wow, he looks really bad, oh jeez, thank goodness that’s not me; I want to give that relative a hug, they are clearly finding this harder than the patient;…
The food is ok and edible but needs a lot of salt. I pass the time desperately texting the outside world (yes, I am actually stuck here!) and trying to work out the rules of the dining room. I don’t succeed in working them out and I’m already dreading breakfast. Once done, it’s a hasty exit back to G37 a.k.a. questionable carpet safe haven.
I am not going to lie. For a hospital that has treated Amy Winehouse, Kate Moss and David Hasslehoff to name a few, I thought it would be a bit more…luxe. The price tag certainly is at £5,119 a week. I could be on a 5* holiday for that. Ok, I am technically not paying, my amazing corporate medical insurance is, but I do feel a bit cheated. I envisioned Egyptian cotton bed sheets, marble bathrooms and a gastronomic delight. This is not paradise. This is not 5* luxe. This is, however, the place I am hoping can put me back together, preferably with an upgrade in the brains department minus the depression.
So, as I sit on my bed tapping away, I face a new dilemma. I was on the phone to a friend when the nurse last came in, so he made a quick retreat. I assume he had my nightly meds… do I go out and ask and risk having to talk to another human being? Do I sit here and hope they come back? If they don’t there is no way in hell I’ll get to sleep. What to do? What to do? It’s been 30 minutes and my obs haven’t been done. This is great on the one hand but right now it would be useful to get my meds without the awkward corridor/ human interaction malarkey.
Whilst I work out the anxiety of how to get my meds, let’s take a look at how I ended up here. The answer is via Camden, Regents Park and left onto Lisson Grove all thanks to a lovely black cabbie. In all seriousness (yes, I can be serious at times) this has probably been quite a long time coming. If I truly think about my mental health, I haven’t been well for a while. I am hoping this is part of the journey back to being better. It may even start with my first shower and teeth brushing in 3 days!
[Brief pause whilst obs take place – I can get my meds!]
Just as I thought it was time to close the laptop, I have exciting news… Not only do I have my meds… I voluntarily took a walk to the patient’s kitchen to get water! Yes! I left the questionable carpet safe haven! [insert cheers]. The thing that’s most amazing though is there was a woman evidently distressed (no no, I am sarcastic, not malicious) and she said to the nurse how she didn’t have the energy or ability to wash and brush her teeth. Yup, wash and brush her teeth. I.e. the exact tasks I wrote a paragraph ago about. A task that I am hugely struggling with. The reason for the amazing-ness is, I am not alone! I am not the only one who thinks like this. Maybe I should be here, maybe this is going to help.
Yes yes, I know. There is currently a whole ward full of people who aren’t well, I do get that. 1 in 4 people in the UK will experience a mental health problem each year. I just didn’t realise they felt like I felt.
Now it really is time to shut the laptop. 50mg Amitriptyline is currently working it’s magic and now it’s just fingers crossed time that I can sleep (and through the nightly obs).
To all who’ve read this far, bravo! I thank you for listening and, if you can face it, I’ll bring you on my journey into a sane new world.