There’s Nowhere For Me To Go

I haven’t been well lately, my mood has crashed completely, the flashbacks are overwhelming and anorexia has been screaming at me. The past five weeks have been a downhill spiral of self harm, suicidal thoughts and no energy to do anything. Unfortunately it is also summer meaning that my psychologist, dietitian and psychiatrist have taken big chunks of leave.

Last Monday I can barely remember, according to my friend I was extremely withdrawn and not well and she took me to hospital to be assessed. We phoned the psychiatric ward at 6:15 pm and I was not assessed until 4.30 am. Waiting so long in an acute mental health crisis was really not helpful. Hospital was meant to help but the entire stay was horrific and stressful. Some of the staff were incredibly rude to everyone. My friend was crying and they opened the door and said, “Off you go!” and left her crying on the curb outside.

I ended up with the wrong medication most of the time and when I went to correct them it didn’t sort anything out. I actually had to explain to a qualified nurse the difference between tramadol and trazodone. I was given one out of my seven tablets at nighttime and when I explained the nurse didn’t return with the right dose and so that was a pretty sleepless night.

I was put in a two bedded room and I accepted that was the only bed even though I struggle hugely with sharing. The staff assured me that as soon as a single room became available it would be mine. The next morning I was put in the four bedded room when single bedrooms were available. I couldn’t help but wonder if they were deliberately trying to wind me up but I just left it because the staff had caused so much stress by that point that I simply gave up.

One patient threatened to kill me with their bare hands and strangle me. It was extremely distressing for me but the staff didn’t seem to care. I came into hospital to get better and feel safe and I felt anything but.

The last straw was when I tried to use the skills we are taught in DBT to distract myself from hurting myself. I asked the occupational therapist if I could do something and her response was, “Usually people with low mood don’t want to do anything.” Her comment put me in a place of guilt, shame and wanting to give up on DBT.

I decided the ward was too stressful and was making me worse and so I asked for leave until ward round and they allowed it. I got home and sat in a chair and cried for hours. Home wasn’t the right place. If I broke my leg then my mum and dad couldn’t x-ray it, diagnose it and put it in a cast. Neither can they fix my broken mind. I silently struggled until ward round and then explained the situation to which they had no solutions and I decided discharge was the only option.

I am now at home with no energy or motivation to do anything, very poorly with depression, battling with self harm and suicidal thoughts, hating myself and struggling with my eating disorder. Home is not the right place for me at the moment but hospital is too stressful which leaves me with nowhere to go…how can that be right?

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Acting Opposite: Anger

Anger is something that I really struggle with and often feel ashamed about but I am learning that feeling anger doesn’t make me a bad person, anger is a feeling that all of us have.

When I get angry I tend to curl up. I’ll cross my arms and legs and crouch and look down. I make myself very small and appear avoidant according to my psychologist. I often don’t acknowledge what is going on in my body nor the feeling I am having but with help I am recognising that anger is an issue in my life. When I’m angry the urge is to lash out…often at myself with self-harm or to swear a lot and not deal with things in an effective manner.

Today I was full of anger in my session with my psychologist and he told me to act opposite to which I angrily told him that I didn’t know what the opposite was. We recognised that the urge was to curl up, avoid eye contact and lash out/swear and so he got me to sit in a relaxed and open posture, stop swearing and look at him and it did help. I think curling up, avoiding eye contact, frowning and picking my nail varnish often makes me more angry, frustrated and wound up and by acting opposite to this urge it made me feel better. The anger was still there but I felt calmer, my heart wasn’t racing and I wasn’t making the situation worse by swearing at my psychologist so we could then have an actual conversation.

Acting opposite is a big part of DBT. If the urge is to self-harm then self-soothe and have a bubble bath or paint your nails. If the urge is to avoid then avoid avoiding. If the urge is to dislike someone and the dislike is unwarranted then think compassionate thoughts about them. If anger is giving you urges that will make the situation worse then do the opposite.

What Are You Passionate About?

Somebody asked me the other day, “What are you passionate about?” and a few things came to mind. I’m passionate about mental health, raising awareness and I think overall, the biggest passion is turning negatives into positives.

The night I spent in a police cell on a Section 136 was horrific. Nobody should be put in a cell when they are in a mental health crisis but actually some of the best days of my life have happened as a direct result of that day. Because of that night I have been on national news, Radio 5 Live and BBC Breakfast and I hope that some of my speaking out has added towards the changes that have happened in our society lately such as triage nurses attending mental health calls and the Crisis Care Concordat.

Being detained under The Mental Health Act and spending months in hospital was also not a nice experience but I have been able to use that experience to speak out, help others and create a short film.

Having a mental illness isn’t nice. These illnesses can be so cruel but now when something happens I try to see the positive in it because I am sure that everything happens for a reason. When bad things happen I am determined to make sure the memory becomes a positive one and that my pain can maybe lessen other’s pain.