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Making friends living on an Acute psychiatric ward

I remember my first meeting with a mental health charity to collaborate and co-facilitate an anti- Stigma workshop/group that This is what I have been wanting to do for some time and here I am achieving my dreams. When I was back -institutionalized in an Acute ward with Anorexia and Bipolar in 2005. I think that personality trait to help others and organize groups has always been in me.

I was am a nightmare patient.

I always refused bed rest and focused my time on doing things like raffles to raise money for a charity shop connected to the Retreat,in York. I ended up raising over £100 in a matter of days with a BMI of 14.5. so about 41 kilograms. , 90 pounds – I’m nearly 5.8.

In other clinics- I was tube fed and restrained -often by up to four nurses.

That is a whole other story and debate.

I met another man who is/was a barrister and he had a complete breakdown. His wife had been cheating on him. I met an artist who expressed her unarticulated pain by painting. I met a woman who had been fighting Anorexia and OCD all her life and who taught me how to put a Christmas tree up.

I had forgotten.

I didn’t know what life was and what it meant to live.

I met a few ladies, not on my unit -The Acorn unit ( the name pun has not gone over my head). They expressed their pain through cutting and self-harm.

Nobody played games. Although some of us, from time to time would get hold of paracetamol and other shit and overdose to liven the humdrum mundaneness of life in an acute ward. I once got caught out on weigh day with fishing scales attached to my paper gown. The staff was quite taken aback with imaginative ways we would come up with to avoid putting on weight. These girls were hardcore. I met so many people.

I met a girl who terrified me. I could tell she had been in hospitals all her life. Her family could absolve themselves of whatever guilt they felt towards their daughter by puttting her in private clinics and the problem was dusted under the carpet.

I had started the process and recovery of eating again and putting on weight. I couldn’t cope. I developed another way to cope, for at least 4 months my day consisted of:

  • chewing gum

  • making a coffee

  • eating more chewing gum

  • make a cup herbal tea

  • smoke a cig .

I was on this loop for24 hours /7 days a week -for 4 months.

I was driving myself crazy in a way that was unfamiliar to me. The nurses tried to lock me out of the communal kitchens and one night I flipped out when they tried to grab me so I started throwing stuff around.

I wanted them to help me. The girl who initially terrified me came into the kitchen and sat down on the floor with me and held me for over an hour while, I shed tears for everything I can remember.

All the emotions attached to those memories I had pushed aside. None of these people was violent. We were trying to be understood and to understand ourselves.

I met a young girl with schizophrenia -she dressed like a Goth. Always had headphones in her ears. She was trying to silence the voices. She had been coping well up until her Mother passed away and like any normal person she was traumatized by it and her mental health went a bit off balance again. She was trying to make sense that her mother is dead. She was grieving.

One night a new guy arrived on the scene. I couldn’t take my eyes off him. He had that charisma of the kind of guy I always seemed to attract. His eyes were full of spark and mischief. A person you would want on your side. We became friends. We spoke a lot. He did a very Titanic thing and drew a picture of me. Fully clothed. I can’t find the picture to load up. He was still going through the DT’s. I will live with my memory of how the picture looked- possibly very trippy. Ha Ha.

Barry was only staying for 10 days before he went to ‘a dry out clinic further up the coast. I don’t know what happened inside me but I didn’t want him to go.

He was a lot older than me but we did everything together.I got him painting again. I know he had just got out of prison but he was so talented. I begged the nurses and psychiatrists to let him stay.

‘Look! Look! how talented he is! He needs help from you’.

Our last night before we parted ways. We sat in the smoking lounge and watched ‘Pulp fiction’. I know this may make some people reading this go .. erm………what?

I lay my head down in his lap and he played with my hair. For me, the act was more like a father gesture. I suspect for Barry it could have been different.

He wrote loads of letters and planned to come to visit me. The nurses censored my post and turned him away.

I often wonder what happened to him.

I get angry that just because he was an in and out of prison for many reasons- he was denied the rehabilitation that I received. He had issues. I am no innocent.

I feel he could not have benefited from a recovery type community setting rather than prison. It’s not my place to say what he did, I don’t want to remember.

It would have ruined the fact that I found feelings inside me. I could laugh again, I could cry. I was real. I felt like a human being and not some freak with Anorexia. Anorexia took second place and I wanted it to always take second place. I felt real.

So back to the Anti-stigma workshop, I am doing. I can’t wait. I have a passion. I have the drive. This is my new chapter. I did have a beautiful picture Barry drew of a dragonfly but I guess moving around a lot means that I have lost other precious memories. I am finally in a position to help other people. I’m not letting this opportunity getaway.

Catch 22

Fall – leaves turn shades of browns and greens.

my heart dips and I don’t feel that same sense of summer’s beams.

Alone. I look to my left. Creativity shines- glitter, stilettos- latex, white faux fur coats. All legs.

Like a string of pearls flung across a room,  a musky scent wafts across my midst.

Temptations persist. Glamour. Warmth is all I seek. Summer, why do you have to be so cruel?

I know if I cross over to the other side – I’ll be feeling the warmth – it will be pimped out inbox ring styles – I won’t have time to dodge the fists.

My body will burn up an exotic shade of hues. I will have no rest.

Hell is the other side of Summers gluttonous jazz bassline.

One hit. One vein. Blood – artificial nirvana could infiltrate my being.

I won’t have to think of the biting cold that is ringing in my ears. Muffled will be the ice cone, frozen on the edge of my nose. It doesn’t matter who sees that I have been seen.

Bus shelters full, spikes erect from the corporate underground – I can’t sit down. I know it takes fewer muscles to smile than frown.

Energy is all I have to see me through this cycle of undomesticated abuse. October may be  Domestic abuse awareness month.

If I hadn’t left my keeper, I would still have a roof over my head.

A blanket.

I would still be touched.

 Roughed up.

Better the devil you know – I know every one of his moves. I know when to dissociate –

detach my mind

from my body.

Floating above the marital, martial art stylised bed – I see myself and that devil I married, grabbing folds of my skin. He doesn’t notice the smell of the new conditioner I bought at Asda or how soft the sheets feel now they have been newly spun.

Dryer. I’m dry. He doesn’t notice the lack of moisture. He doesn’t notice that all of that fluid has shot up to my eyeballs. I refuse to let them free flow – I am not her. I’m floating.

Fly on the wall. Caught up in a spiders web. I have to watch. It doesn’t matter if I have a crick in my neck – oh hang on a minute is he choking me?

Leftover food languishing in the sink drain. He switched the waste disposal on to automatic.

Arrested, I am back in bed, under him. Time to vogue with my lips and give him a little pucker.

These white sheets have turned red in his need to let off steam. I come out in blisters hovering underneath his vapour.

Turn my neck – feels like I need a box of throat lozenges for having to get all deep throat.

5 am flashing in stimulant green.

I’m 5 months pregnant. I am going to be late.

Grab the nearest decent clothes. Pull-on my Adidas trainers. Scrape my hair up into a ponytail.

Finally the motivation to go on the run. I don’t have to time myself. I know his schedule well.

An Olympic torch passes into my hand. I’m running for freedom. Liberty is my destination.

I can start over.

Spring – blues, violets, colours in a perfect union – uncompressed. Naturally dressed.

For the first time in months, I feel like I belong. I too am a medley of colours. I blend in.

Natures milkshake collects in my breasts –  4 months to go until I give birth to a miracle of pure life.

Not branded a colour – just innocence – a chance to see a light – work on my soul and tackle it all. This is the only cure.

Vanilla.

I am no Killer.

Life goes in cycles. It passes by fast. There are no traffic jams when you have to pick up your feet and walk.

Eyes cast down, belly protruding.

Christian volunteers crouch down next to me- hand me a card.

Die and be reborn.

They can help me. I just have to give my old life to our saviour. I’ve never met him but he sounds

Forgiving, comforting, caressing- a handwash with extra Aloe vera – calming properties.

All I have to do is offer my unborn child to him and I can enter paradise with the rest of my weary comrades.

Eyes raise up to the bitter sky. I’ve always thought whatever is up there twinkling and winking down at me is having a far better time than me.

My unborn deserves a place in heaven. Earth only promises scars and wild jungle roots to keep it grounded to the spot.

The ultimate sacrifice.

Did I fold in with this cult out of cowardice?

I will drink my poison.

Maybe this winter I will be reunited with the one that let out a sudden cry.

Lead me not into temptation. I lie down, no need to be afraid, child. I close my eyes and sigh.

Hope is my last premise.

* Inspired by domestic violence awareness month*

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OCTOBER 2016 (IMAGE SOURCED FROM GOOGLE)

HERE IS A LINK TO A  POST I WROTE,ON 11TH MAY 2016 , ABOUT MY OWN PERSONAL EXPERIENCES IN A D.V. RELATIONSHIP , TO RAISE DOMESTIC ABUSE AWARENESS IN MY COMMUNITY AND   SOCIETY.

CLICK ON THE PINK HIGHLIGHTED LINK BELOW

THE FREEDOM PROGRAMME

*photo credit Rhode Island Francesca Woodman, Benjamin Moore *

Scars -a bloody unwanted reminder

Writing prompt -Scars

One scar I have is huge – it almost wraps all the way around my upper wrist -it is 2-3 cm wide.  Indented, It reminds me of a dried upriver.

The cause?

Domestic violence.

Before I continue…

Domestic abuse & Toxic relationships

Rape -NO means NO.

I’m going to state the obvious here.

Domestic violence is a relationship fucks about with your mental health, whether you love the person or not.

 

Toxic relationships have usually tipped me over into using shitty coping mechanisms like drinking too much, taking drugs, overdosing and not managing my medication or my eating disorder and Bipolar.

So back to the blood river scar.

One night- no

Another night of heavy drinking and arguing, I found me in a house -not mine- that looked like a slaughterhouse. all dirty browns. There was a rusty scent of blood impossible to ignore.

Every time I inhaled, the scent would drip down the back of my throat like a  tap -I could taste it too.

I  had mixed copious amounts of alcohol with my medication and all I remember is trying to push my ex away with my left hand ( I am left-handed), he grabbed my arm and I struggled back.

BLACKOUT

 

 An image.

An arm.

 

 a massive shard of re-enforced window glass- barbered-   poking out of my right arm.

 

Another image.

the back of my exes legs and back running up the stairs.

PANIC 

BLOOD

DRINK

VODKA

WHERE IS THE ORANGE JUICE?

WHERE IS THE GLASS?

WHERE IS MY EX?

BLOOD 

DRIP

BLOOD 

DRIP

BLOOD 

DRIP

BLOOD 

DRIP

PANIC 

PANIC

An arm coated thick with blood. I wear it like an accessory

Blood makes noise.

I hear screaming.

Mine.

Ex reappears and tries to grab me.

I try to run away.

PANIC 

BLOOD

DRIP

I NEED TO GET OUT OF HERE.

Why is my ex naked? 

In the middle of the street?

Rolling on the floor with me- trying to muffle my screams with his hand. Trying to stop me from running away...

BLOOD

MIND FUCKERY at its best.

“Look what you have done…” ex says.

6 hours later – location:  hospital.

The doctor asks to speak with me in private. My ex doesn’t want to leave my side.

I don’t say anythingquack quack! quack quack! quack quack!   the word on a loop…

 

“What happened?”  he wants to know.

“We don’t know. We were drinking. I can’t remember. It was an accident.” my ex speaks for us.

My head bows down,it almost appears as if I am nodding. I can’t quite remember.

What I do remember feels like I have made it up, it is so detached from my mind and emotions. It is about as close to me as Pluto or Saturn.

3 days in hospital my ex never left my side.

Not even to go home to wash or brush his teeth.

I wasn’t alone- my mother was with us too.

I was high on morphine for the pain.

Why didn’t they operate sooner? 

Did they want to monitor me? 

The situation? 

Us? 

three days later…  I’m being wheeled on the hospital bed- away from the stale, coughing ward…

“countback with me from 10,” says the anaesthetist.

10 , 9 ,8 ……

BLACKOUT

 

“1”. my eyes burst open. I gasp a breath. It is  like I’ve been living in a homemade sac filled with half shallow water and half air.

 Disorientated.

What happened?

I look down at the artwork the surgeon has done.

No more blood.

re-stuffed re-patched, recovered,

by a micro surgical  hand.

Discharged.

Back to the carnival freak show.

I enter his home – a massacre.

Dry blood everywhere.

Smell.

Bleach.

Sound.

Scrubbing brushes.

Stubborn blood. 

If only it could serve as a reminder of what actually happened that night.

“I don’t remember” the ex says.

How can he and I not know?

Every time I look at my scar I am reminded of the chaos that was my life for 4 years.

This scar says –

mutilation.

despair.

secrets.

emotions numbed.

detachment.

silence.

silence-1.jpg

This scar reminds me to NEVER be silent in the name of so-called love or a sense of loyalty to one who claimed to love me so much he would do anything to keep me.

http://www.vevo.com/watch/suzanne-vega/blood-makes-noise/USIV20300313

When I left him, I did not take his threats seriously.

 What he did next gave serious competition with the scar I see.

That everyone can see.

Toxic relationships result in a severe loss – sometimes that means your life.

Think carefully about what and who your life may include.

I was reborn again on the 06/05/2015.

The day the court ordered social services out of my life.

The day that my ex turned his back on me,  is the day I realised I had been holding my breath for years.

I had forgotten how to breathe.  I might have been dead- a wanderer.

06/05/2015 -I remembered not only how to breathe again but why.

Life -not just my own but that who is of me.

Life is precious

Life is my responsibility

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