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.

Stop Sending Internet Hate: It Is Not Good For Anyone’s Mental Health

Recently I’ve been receiving a lot of hate and bullying over the Internet…this has taken shape in many different forms including comments and private messages. A lot of the time I delete the hate and block the user but that doesn’t stop it having an impact on myself, my feelings and my day.

For starters sending Internet hate is not good for my mental health. It has the power to bringing me crashing back down to the lowest of the depths of depression even on a seemingly good day. For example on my birthday I received hate because I had a birthday cake I didn’t eat and was told I didn’t deserve it….it made me feel so incredibly guilty and the self hatred soared. Another day I woke to a private message telling me I was a dumb anorexic and should just eat. That wasn’t a nice way to start the day.

It’s not only me that the hate directed at me has an impact on. It spreads to the people around me who have to see me in turmoil but also it affects other people on the Internet who see the hate and it prevents people from being open and honest. It installs fear in people.

Internet hate must also have an impact on the sender themselves. I wouldn’t want to live with myself if I had spent the day saying horrible things to people. I can’t imagine the guilt and self hatred they must feel so please if it’s you sending the hate stop sending it and if you’re on the receiving end know that you are not alone.

Stop Sending Hate

Okay let’s go back to basics, our first days of primary school we were told the school rules and the two I will probably always remember were, “Treat others the way you wish to be treated” and “If you don’t have anything nice to say then say nothing at all” and perhaps the latter should be a life rule, or at the very least an internet rule. I’m going to ignore “Treat others the way you wish to be treated” because I don’t think many of us are very kind to ourselves these days and I don’t think people who send hate over the internet have much self-respect or self-esteem and they probably don’t value themselves very highly.

I am not someone who has received a lot of hate, in fact it is pretty rare but that’s why I feel it is even more important to talk about it. I am not one of those extreme stories, I’m probably one of the ‘lucky’ ones because I can count the hate I’ve received this year on one hand, however this does not mean it didn’t hurt me. Hate is dangerous, any hate is dangerous. If you send someone one hateful comment online, that one comment has the power to cause harm to that person and it’s like throwing a grenade over a fence, you can’t see the damage, you don’t even know if it’s hit them but it has the potential to be deadly.

You do not know that person’s personality, life nor situation. The person you send hate to could already be having a really bad day, your one comment could be the comment that pushes them over the edge.

Online bullying and hate is very different to bullying and hateful comments in the actual world. You can often see from body language or facial expression that the other person isn’t going to be kind and whilst this is equally as horrible, at least you can kind of prepare yourself rather than clicking on an email and BOOM it doesn’t matter where you are or what you are doing, this hateful comment is there and you can read over and over again, it isn’t just said once. You are under attack and your body reacts, your heart races and your eyes sting but you don’t know who or where the attacker is.

One of the first times I received hate, I was sat in a hospital waiting room waiting for a very difficult, upsetting and anxiety provoking appointment. I was on my own and already in a very vulnerable place. I was looking around the room finding objects beginning with each letter of the alphabet in a desperate bid to stop myself crying but I internalised the words and believed them and completely hated myself and it contributed towards me hurting myself that night.

A more recent example was when I was sent hate whilst I was an inpatient on a psychiatric ward. Things were difficult enough, I already had my own nasty voice shouting at me, I didn’t need another one.

The most memorable was when I received an anonymous message telling me I was fat but with many more words and I was sitting down for dinner at someone’s house and I was already full of anxiety but also a determination to not let my illness win. I read that message as the starter was served and I barely ate any of the meal and I hurt myself as I lay in my dark bedroom that night.

Hate has affected me and I am very fortunate that I don’t receive a lot, I would not consider myself to be cyber bullied at all. This is why my message is so important. It just takes one hateful comment. Sending me hate when I am suicidal is as dangerous as handing me gun.

I see hate everyday on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook and it’s scary how normal it is becoming. I shouldn’t be scared every single time I get a notification that it is going to be hate, our society should not be turning into this. The internet is 24/7, it doesn’t close and our phones are with us constantly. Think about that for a second, it’s exhausting enough to keep up with replies, what each other are doing, trying to fit in and all the rest of it without receiving hate any time of the day or night.

Screens create a distance but that doesn’t mean that the consequences of your hateful messages aren’t happening. You are sending hate to a human being with feelings, memories, insecurities, problems and vulnerabilities.

Don’t be the reason someone cries tonight, don’t be a scar on someone’s arm and definitely do not be a tear in a mother’s eye as she buries her child. Stop sending hate!