From the end of April to late May I spent 4 weeks in a psychiatric hospital, hence my absence. It was a difficult admission and still now I am struggling to quite get my head around what happened, what’s happening, and what I went through. I am also struggling to get back to every day life. Having spent 4 weeks in an NHS institution with nothing to do but sit and talk crap with other patients, sleep and eat I have struggled with going out, with my desire to leave my room, with socialising, with public transport and with getting up in the morning amongst other things.
I am still, after almost 2 weeks out, trying to pick myself up and get going with my life again. It’s been a hard ol’ slog. At the moment I am focusing on getting up and dressed in the a.m and trying to spend my days doing more than staring at the TV until I’m sleepy again. I haven’t managed to start exercising again yet – for some reason I’m really scared to go for a run, or get on my bike. I think this is going to be a long process that seems to be moving at a glacial pace.
I am however, trying to implement skills and tactics in order to get going again, and in order to cope with my new found freedom, in addition to coping in healthier ways than those I employed prior to my admission which landed me in hospital for 4 weeks. My journey from public place, to police van, to 136 suite and then to hospital was quite a surreal one. I did write a lot whilst I was in hospital about what I was going through, some of which I plan to share over the coming days in order to explore my experience. It kind of illustrates my journey with my experience.
After 4 weeks of doing very little, and becoming accustomed to sleeping the days away in order to pass time and be perceived ad the “good quiet” patient, I am slowly getting used to getting up and dressed, as I barely dressed or washed whilst I was in hospital. In fact, every time I have showered since coming out (2-3 times) I have lost the knack of keeping soap out of my eyes and mouth in the shower – this is also something I am currently grappling to re-learn.
So what am I doing to get myself back on track?
1.Set an alarm for 8:30 and 9am to try and get up and out of bed in a decent time.
2. I decided from today to not watch TV before 3pm, otherwise I will sit there and watch it all day at the moment. This isn’t usually something I struggle with but it has cropped up since I have come home.
3. Making plans on sites like Meet Up to go out with people, socialise and become slightly active again.
4. Making daily To Do lists to try and do something productive with my day and to get chores done.
5. Trying to go out and acclimatise to using public transport again.
6. Planning fun things to look forward to.
7. Keeping a functioning and mood reflective diary.
The Caring Nurse,
Please forgive me, I do not know your name. I must have forgotten as soon as you introduced yourself; when you cared for me, I was unwell. That is why our paths crossed in the first place. What I do remember though is you. I remember beyond your name, job title or image. I remember your kindness. I remember you caring words when you were on 1-1 with me. I remember your encouraging words in the morning, and I remember how you gave me a hug when that was really what I needed. Please forgive me, I do not know your name.
I was on the floor when we crossed at our most poignant meeting. My depressive episode had been ongoing from an episode into a state of being. It had been difficult to manage for a long time. For years when I met you had I been wanting to die, and making attempts on my life. I understand it can be difficult to relate to that level of despair and hopelessness, but that was all my life had amounted to at that time: every despairing moment, every breath taken felt a waste. A waste of space, life and energy that could be better used elsewhere, or so I thought. I was a failure deserving of no support for getting myself into such a mess, or so I thought. I definitely didn’t deserve to be in a private hospital on public funds, or so I thought, but you took the time to sit with me. You took the time to talk with me, listen, care, and give me the kick up the arse to get out of bed each day that I needed. Please forgive me, I do not know your name.
You gave me the hand I needed to hold in order to wash, dress, and to come out from under my protective duvet shell. I remember those mornings, and for as disgruntled as I was, what I remember most of all if your kind, empathetic and caring form of tough love. Some of your colleagues would just sit in that chair at my door, like a sleeping guard from a cartoon, entirely disconnected from me as a patient, a human, and the whole full person, albeit shattered, that I was and currently am. For that time and effort I can only thank you. I know you were perhaps “just doing your job” but it felt like it meant more than that to you. I really felt your care.
I remember the time you found me on the floor in the corner of my room, crying to myself in shamed silence. I don’t think you quite realise the light that came from you and shone through my own dark clouds. I remember being relieved when you were my assigned nurse, and developing my only form of hope I could muster at the time: the hope that you were working that day. I remember your smile, and the cracks of a smile you managed to encourage from my sullen face. A little joke here, a little joke there.
My depression at that time was almost traumatising within itself. I remember once I got home crying upon each waking morning. Not another day, please no, please don’t make me endure another day of this life. I had gone so far as to no longer understand happiness. What could people be happy about when the world is so cruel? What did people have to be happy about, when life is full of higher than high hurdles, one, after another, after another? How on earth could people be happy when there is so much corruption and little justice? Or so it seemed.
Staring at walls for days on end, time ticking by, another wasted youth. My never-ending rollie hanging out my mouth, and perhaps filling in a Sudoku here and there, doing nothing, but never being bored. There was nothing to be bored from: no lust for life, no energy, no hope, just nothing. This wasn’t why I was depressed, but the result of trying to endure what felt like an eternity of despair. You got that, and for that I remember you. Please forgive me, I do not know your name.
You understood what I was going through, and where I was within myself, my life and my mental health. You took the time and effort to really understand what I needed in that moment – and that is what you gave to me. So although I forgot your name, I will never forget the kindness you showed to me in empathy for me, and helping to pull me out of the rut I had been festering in for such a long time already.
You really made a difference, and I expect from hearsay that that is partially the reason for which you do mental health nursing, but please do forgive me, I do not know your name. Perhaps though, in this instance, your name is almost irrelevant: although it would be nice to know. I remember you instead as the person you showed to me. The nurse who cared, who really cared. The nurse who got it, and the person who reached her hand out to me when I was in need. For that I can only thank you, and be content in the knowledge that your warm heart and compassion is touching others when they most need it.
About this series: ‘Letters: Everything I Couldn’t See‘