Inpatient Unit: Surviving to Day Two

Okay so it’s coming to the end of my second day at Cygnet and so far it has been really difficult but today was definitely an improvement on yesterday. I’m struggling with feed being increased and no fizzy drinks and there have been a number of incidents but I really hated it here yesterday and today I feel like I can manage so it’s probably just a case of settling in. Time on my phone is limited though so updates probably won’t happen very often.

Going To Cygnet

This time tomorrow I’ll be on my way to Coventry to go to the new cygnet hospital. It’s been a long wait, I’ve been in a general hospital since December.

I don’t really know what the plan will be as I can’t really remember the assessment and haven’t been able to visit the hospital beforehand. I feel very nervous and scared about it all if I’m totally honest. I have many fears about it, especially worrying I’ll be the fattest there.

I don’t know if I’ll be allowed my phone/iPad/internet so I might not be able to post for a while but I wish all my readers the best.

This is not a goodbye but a see you soon.

Claire x

One Week To Go

A week today I will be on my way to cygnet in Coventry to begin my recovery journey. I’m feeling super nervous about going and my illness is trying to convince me I’m too fat to go there. I’m full of urges to end my life and/or abscond. I really don’t want to go.

I don’t know a huge deal about where I’m going, I don’t know whether I’ll be allowed my phone or iPad or be able to go on the internet so I may not be able to continue blogging.

So here goes, let the countdown begin.

 

My Nightmare At The Secure Unit

TRIGGER WARNING: mentions numbers

Okay so I wasn’t going to write about this for the sheer fact that the unit is still open and my experience doesn’t mean everyone’s will be like mine. For these reasons the unit will not be named.

I went to the secure unit in May 2016 because my personality disorder made my self harming behaviours too dangerous to remain on the acute ward or to go to the retreat like we had planned. It was a nightmare. My memories of it are blurred due to the effects of starvation and the lifestyle I had to lead there.

I had begun restricting my eating just before I left for the unit and it continued unnoticed whilst I was there. Then in June 2016 I stopped eating completely and as a result my family visits were stopped. I felt punished and still feel this was unfair and my parents had to fight to be able to visit me. My dad turned up for his Father’s Day visit only to be sent away which was heartbreaking for the both of us.

They began monitoring my weight and bloods and these slowly decreased. In September I was admitted to a general hospital for refeeding through an NG tube and I then returned to the unit where I continued to lose weight and was admitted again for refeeding via NG tube in November.

I hit my worst point in December. It was my mum’s birthday and I walked into the visiting room singing ‘happy birthday’ and mum just burst into tears at the sight of me. A week or so later my ECG showed problems with my heart and potassium levels and I was admitted to a general hospital again for refeeding and heart monitoring and I was put on a potassium drip. I returned to the unit. A couple of days later I was called into the quiet room in the evening. I was told I’d be seeing an eating disorder specialist at 8am the next day.

I was woken up at the crack of dawn and assisted to the shower. I was so weak and hasn’t showered in weeks, I had to sit on a chair whilst the staff member washed me. I then was assisted to the visiting room to see the eating disorder team from my local health board. They felt it necessary that I come into the general hospital I am in now as a matter of emergency. They weren’t sure I was going to survive at a weight of just 32kg. I had no phone or iPad at this point and the thought of taking a picture of myself didn’t even enter my very poorly and starved brain so  to the haters, no I don’t have any proof of how poorly I got physically just the memories that are left with me of that time. The times when I couldn’t walk to the toilet on my own or straighten my legs and my body hurt so much.

It wasn’t just the starvation side of things that made the unit I was in a total nightmare, a lot of things happened. I never went outside, the whole 8 months I was there the only times I went out of the tiny ward were to go to hospital. I wasn’t allowed anything in my room, not even cards people sent me, I wasn’t allowed a pen or cutlery or access to the Internet or my phone or iPad or computer. At one point I wasn’t even allowed my clothes and I wore anti rip smocks for months. One time early on in my admission when I was still having periods I wasn’t allowed a sanitary towel and I literally had blood running down the insides of my legs.

We were often locked out of our bedrooms leaving us with a little room with a tv to spend our entire day in with very few activities going on. We were never allowed in the toilet alone and were  given toilet tissue one square at a time.

I had to move rooms during my admission after another patient tried to strangle me and I have to admit I didn’t resist. I hoped she would kill me.

The first night in this general hospital when I had brought all my belongings from the unit knowing I would not be returning I was distraught. I phoned mum and sobbed on the phone to her telling her I felt like I was in a living nightmare.

I was so poorly I couldn’t do anything so there are no posts or photos from these times just my word which seems to be questioned often and that does upset me. So please think before you comment to or about me that actually you don’t know the full story. This is the last time I respond to hate.

Mental Health Tribunal

Yesterday I had my mental health tribunal which was equally stressful and scary but today I am feeling better and reflective about it and thought I’d share my experience of a tribunal and my care plan for the future.

There were many people in my tribunal, the tribunal panel which consists of 3 people: a doctor, a judge and a lay person and then there was my psychologist, psychiatrist, nurse, eating disorder nurse, social worker and my lawyer on top of the nurse and support worker who were with me on my 2:1 observations.

I was taken to the tribunal in a wheelchair and we heard evidence from everybody who they felt was relevant and hadn’t covered it in their report then came the anxious wait for a decision. The decision was made that I remain on my section 3 and go to Cygnet Coventry in May. At the time I found this decision distressing and tried to do a runner, I was restrained in my wheelchair all the way back to my room and then I pulled my feeding tube out in total despair and upset. I was restrained until I calmed down.

Today I feel okay. There is nothing I can do about their decision and I guess if that many people agree I should remain in hospital then they must be right and as much as I hate it here I have to radically accept my situation.

So what’s the plan from here? Well in 13 days I will go to Cygnet Coventry and give recovery and my chance at a normal life the best shot and then if that fails and the placement breaks down it will be palliative care. Why palliative care? Because out of all the units that were approached only this one accepted me due to either my bmi and anorexia being too severe or my emotionally unstable personality disorder and self harm being too bigger risk. This unit feels they can manage and treat both.

So whilst I’m gutted to still be in hospital under section I am looking onwards and upwards to a new beginning in the near future.

Thoughts On Tomorrow’s Tribunal

Tomorrow is the day. The day of my mental health tribunal and I must warn you at the beginning of this post that what I’m going to write may be upsetting and triggering. Writing this is opening up my vulnerability and it’s difficult to write.

Tomorrow a group of people get to decide my future but first I’d like to focus on some news I got today. 19 units were approached for me and only 1 accepted me….if this placement breaks down and doesn’t work then the final option will be palliative care.

Back to tomorrow, they may decide I can go home and I would then have no nutritional intake and would die from starvation or suicide or they decide that I have to stay on my section and go to Coventry to the new unit on the 3rd May. If the latter is decided I plan to run, to end my life because quite frankly it is unbearable and tortureous. I can’t do this and I’m sure that sooner or later this will end up in palliative care. I feel like a hopeless case.

Having A Difficult Time

Things are far from easy right now. I have a tribunal this week to see if my section can be lifted which is stressing me out and the date to go to cygnet is getting closer and I’m generally just not very well.

Last night I planned to take my life, I concealed the object I was going to use in my slippers but got caught out…cue medication and restraints and a lot of tears and trying to run away. I eventually managed to get some sleep but even in my dreams anorexia was present. I don’t seem to get a break these days.

Today hasn’t been any easier. I ligatured and tried to abscond this morning ending up in two floor restraints and then more tears, medication and restraining this afternoon. I am exhausted.

I have to be honest here, I hope they lift my section on Wednesday because I can’t carry on living like this. If I were an animal suffering so much they would put me down. Why shouldn’t I have the right to die?

One Month To Go

A month today I will be transferring from the hospital I’m currently in to my new unit, Cygnet in Coventry. I know pretty much nothing about the place which terrifies me. I have no idea about routine, about whether I’ll be allowed my iPad/internet or what the deal is with visitors. I will be going to a place I’ve never been to with people I’ve never met and will be expected to stay there for a long time.

I’m dreading my last night in this hospital, I doubt I’ll sleep knowing what will happen the next day and I will be very sad to say goodbye to the staff here. I’m scared to leave, I’m used to the staff, the routine, everything. I know where I am and what is happening. I don’t want to leave that.

I’m dreading the car journey down there despite it being with staff I’m very close to. Those two hours will be full of anxiety and fear. It’ll be like a very long goodbye and goodbyes are never nice.

I can’t even begin to imagine how alone and scared I’ll feel tucked into my new bed on my first night there, so many miles away from everything and everyone I know.

My only hope is that I win my appeal at my mental health tribunal later this month otherwise a month today this will be the reality I face.

I Tried To Take My Life Last Night

I’ve been debating whether to write about this all day because I don’t want to be too negative but then I realised if I truly want to speak out about mental health then I have to talk about the darkest parts too. So yes, last night I tried to take my life.

I feel rather hopeless at the moment. I’ve been in hospital since 2015 and I can’t remember what it’s like to be a part of society and some days I’m not sure that I want to be a part of society. My life has become sitting in a room watching films with two members of staff either side of my bed. I’m scared of my first night sleeping on my own, of tasting food for the first time, of stepping outside, of talking to people. Everything scares me and in a way this has become comfortable. Comfortable but I also hate it. I want to go home and just be allowed to not eat but they will not let me because I will die, because even though I was in hospital I nearly died. I’ve appealed against my section but the chances of my section being lifted are very slim. This is my life and I don’t want it.

I know most people don’t want to hear this but the majority of time I do not believe recovery is possible for me. Please if you are suffering do not let that lose hope for you, that isn’t what I want to do but at the same time I don’t want to stay silent in my darkest moments.

Life is painful right now, each feed is intensely distressing, I have to take it hour by hour and sometimes that’s too much. I just can’t stand being in the body I am in, I can’t stand myself and I wish it was possible to leave this world without leaving a massive black hole.

Last night wasn’t impulsive, it was planned. I had the means hidden for a few days and I knew I was going to do it. I timed it well and knew how to do it without the people next to me seeing. I thought I was going to die but they heard the sound of me gasping and that was it, I was caught and the means were taken from me. So here I am still alive and to be totally honest I’m a bit disappointed that I am. I have dots all over my face and neck from where my blood vessels burst.

I don’t have the means to try again and I won’t for now but I just wanted to speak out from the bottom of this deep dark hole. I just wanted to be honest with my struggle.

It’s my birthday on Thursday and part of me wants to really celebrate it because I nearly didn’t make it due to my anorexia and due to last night but the other part of me doesn’t want to celebrate at all because truly and honestly I wish I hadn’t been born. Then I wouldn’t have caused all the hurt and pain and trouble I have caused by being ill. Then I wouldn’t have to feel all the distress I do. This is my raw honesty.

 

Sectioned: An Update

A couple of years ago I made a short video with Fixers about what it’s like to be sectioned for an eating disorder. This came about after I saw a comment online saying, “I wish I could be sectioned so that I could have a hug” I was utterly shocked by this. Being sectioned is not something I have ever wanted to happen to me and hugs are very rare when you are in hospital. After reading the shocking comment, I made ‘sectioned’ which can be watched here.

My life has changed a lot since then, a lot has happened and when I watch the video now I wish I could update it so I thought I’d do it in a blog post. In the video I had only experienced being sectioned under section 2 of the mental health act. I have now been detained under section 3 of the mental health act since 2015 and this is still on going.

In the video I talk briefly about the two weeks I spent on level 3 which is where a member of staff remains with you at all times, this includes in the shower/bath, on the toilet and whilst sleeping. I have now been on level 4 2:1 for 2 months and this is also ongoing. This means two members of staff are within arms length of me at all times. So now it’s not one pair of eyes on me while I sleep, go to the toilet, shower etc but two pairs of eyes on me. I haven’t gone to the toilet unsupervised since May 2016.

My ‘choice’ remains the same. I have to drink sickly, gloopy supplements or they go down the tube I have up my nose. The difference is that now I can’t bare to let it touch my lips and so everything goes down the NG tube. I say ‘choice’ because I don’t really get a choice, I have to have the supplement drink one way or another. Some days I am restrained whilst they pump the feed down my tube.

I still feel my skin crawling with calories, itching, bubbling. Maybe this sensation will always remain with me around food, maybe it will never go away and that scares me.

In the video, I say “The final section, I hope it was” and I am gutted to say it wasn’t, I have a few more to add to this list. I wish my update was that I was living a normal life and the facts of the video had not changed. I wish I could say I was well rather than wishing I could remake the video to fit with my current circumstances.

My message remains the same: Mental illnesses are not fashion accessories, eating disorders are not glamorous and being detained under the mental health act is not something to strive for. This is still my life and I would not wish it upon anyone.