This weekend I did something I have never done before. Usually when I feel unsafe, I either push myself through it until I get out the other side (by some miracle), or I combust, give in and end up self-destructing.
This time, the build up was pretty bad. Bad to the extent that I genuinely feared for my safety and what I might do to myself (although I suppose at the time I didn’t fear for it, because I didn’t give a fuck. I was done). Sometimes even though I feel unsafe, I might know on one level that I won’t follow through with anything totally life-threatening. However, this time I hit such a low that I genuinely believe I could have followed through with catastrophic actions. (See this post here for context!)
Luckily, I didn’t do that. I didn’t force myself to push through. And I didn’t self-combust. I did something I have never done before in this way and I reached out for urgent help. I told my parents I was feeling suicidal. I did it over text because I couldn’t get the words out. But I did it alright. And it was fucking tough.
My dad called my psychiatrist, who in turn called me. Hearing me in such a state and realising the severity of the situation, he recommended I go inpatient just to be safe – both for my benefit and for my parents’. A couple of hours later he admitted me to the psychiatric hospital. It’s the same hospital I was in almost two years ago.
Ironically I am in the exact same room I was in during my last admission. (Well, it’s the same room I ended up in, after I had to be transferred because I had tried to smash the lightbulb in my first room in order to get glass to hurt myself with…!)
Being back in this same spot got me thinking. Physically, yes, it’s the same room, the same bed, the same floor, the same hospital. But besides the physical, almost everything is different. The people are different (none of “the old crew” are here any longer, thank goodness); the staff are fairly different (quick turnover of nurses, apparently); the timetable is different, the food is different, even the name of the hospital has changed.
The biggest difference, though, is in me.
Sounds cheesy, I know, but hear me out:
Last time I was here, I arrived in an ambulance off the back of a serious overdose from another general medical hospital, where I could have died.
Last time I was here, I cut myself so badly in the bathroom by my bedroom that I was found by staff half conscious in a pool of my own blood, before being carted back off to A&E.
Last time I was here, I was so ill I had to drop out of university.
Last time I was here, my therapist had just “split up” with me because she was unable to manage the severity of my illness any longer.
Last time I was here, I had to be restrained and put on 1:1 monitoring after trying to severely harm myself with a can of coke I had found in a bin in the staff smoking garden after being assaulted by another patient.
Last time I was here, I didn’t even step into the canteen once; I lived for weeks off hot chocolate and cigarettes and lost about 4kg, punishing myself with starvation.
Last time I was here, I was on 7 different medications, totally hooked and unable to function without them, constantly begging for more in order to get through my day.
Last time I was here I was absconding, smuggling and using drugs on site, yelling down the entire ward and scaring staff who admitted they did not feel anywhere near equipped enough to manage me. I took up their constant time, energy and attention.
Last time I was here, I was being threatened with being sectioned and moved to a more secure NHS ward in another hospital.
Fast forward to this admission and it is a totally different story:
This time, I was admitted after asking for help BEFORE I did anything self-destructive or life-threatening to myself. I arrived in a car with my parents, and walked myself through those doors, willingly.
This time, I have been trusted enough to start not on 1:1 supervision, but 15 minute observations, which have now reduced to hourlys.
This time, I have been to the canteen (albeit with support from staff) and made sure I’ve eaten an adequate amount in order to take care of myself.
This time, I have asked for support when I’ve needed it using words, not actions – and that has been responded to accordingly.
This time, I haven’t made any scenes, I haven’t shouted or threatened anyone, I haven’t set any alarms off. The nurses are finding me pretty easy to manage – I’m apparently unrecognisable.
This time, I am not fighting the system, wreaking havoc or worsening the situation for myself nor anyone else. I am working with the staff, and they are working with me.
This time, I am probably the only patient in the entire hospital not on a single pill or drop of medication.
This time, I am feeling safer, calmer, more contained and ready to leave after only 2 days in here.
Tomorrow evening, if all goes well after seeing my psychiatrist I will be discharged. I will not be discharged to another hospital nor treatment centre nor therapist. I will be sent back into the world and I will go home, where I will go to sleep in my own bed. The next morning I will wake up, at home, and I will continue fighting this battle outside in the real world, like I do every single day.
I felt a huge amount of shame coming back in here, and was scared it represented a huge set-back, or even a full blown relapse. But the truth is, being back has actually shown me, my family and my psychiatrist just how far I have come over the last few years. Whatever my therapist thinks when I see her (we are in a huge conflict, and they are very anti-hospital in DBT), I have to remain proud of myself and know that I made the right decision.
After all, I’m still here, aren’t I?