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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

resumption_by_jorgeremmy-d3drxy2.png

Forlorn- she was not a tree

She didn’t know it then

she knew now.

Woken up with on a  loop blasting around her mind in surreal sound-

 the Russian bass choir chanting in all surround.

An apt app unconsciousness knew her well.

A year ago, life had been different.

Mirthful, optimistic playful

 Now,  rooted to the spot with foliage, branches, lush leaves taking in the vagabonds seeking shelter.

Lost souls in need hidden by darkness

these nomadic souls plotting their next move.

Time for souls to gather there their thoughts

 the continued search of their dreams and pursuits.

Forlorn found herself lost in her own shades of solitude.

She was alone. Tucked up in her double bed -a pattern of flowers – all Huey reds and purples.

 Forlorn – wrapped up in a ditzy forlorn pattern matched her current mental state.

She could feel the bubbling creeping up to death by poison ivy- curling it’s away from the roots of her feet upwards.

It would not stop until she was mummified into silence.

She knew it wanted to make sure her mouth, eyes & nose covered  in bondage to the soil solidly planted her roots.

One day she had an epiphany.

 Moments of clarity were few.

 A  possibility to be something purposeful meaningful for her.

She had given life sustained it for those souls.

Yet she was weary, ageing.

Before she was forced to put down roots in an abode that spoke in foreign serpentine tongues;

Forlorn had forgotten she used to be a road runner girl.

A girl was taken by flights of fancy on a whim.

Ready to outrun her nemesis wanting to keep her hostage in a place she knew she didn’t belong.

An elder had kept her close to her.

Fearful to let her be free

To be whatever She wanted to be.

 She begged her ancestors to rouse the beasts of deforestation to seize her keeper.

 she could get a clean break – start over.

Feel movement not in height but in fluidity.

Nostalgic fragments of past it feelings -fragments

a pair of wings

A pair of  arms

Even a pair of legs again.

 Seasons passed still, she lay rooted to this spot. Full and plumaged as ever.

Ready to entice wanderers to seek shelter for without telling her a reason.

 

 She fidgeted, yawned, stretched willing pine bristles to deter these unwanted vagrants.

 Her heart had almost given up. She had succumbed to what she supposed was her last winter.

One eve she looked at the bees collecting sweet nectar for the unseen Gods.

Forlorn conceived a sapling of hope

Mental Rummaging a sense of Deja Vu.

I know it’s here’- impatient, sighing.

 

A piece of technology from the world she was once a part of.

A means of magic.

A way to communicate her distress.

Tangled hands finally caught the pointed end of a carved, wooden wand.

Slim, compact light.

Her true form to be again.

Stretching open her eyeballs could be made simpler if she had the eyelashes to wipe away the moss interfering with her vision to flee..

Diminished another sense

She would forget who she was

 what she wanted to be

 She drifted into a frightful sleep.

A woodpecker hammered a hole of her  bleak existence.

The epiphany.

The start of her new life was in a gestation period of fewer than 12 hours!

How did I sleep for so long? Christ! berating her herself under the twilight

Suddenly a swarm, around her were a fleet of fireflies.

 One eyeball strained

and out into focus confirmed  her impending anxiousness starting to emit it’s familiar disparate gas into her trunk form.

The final place she held on to her liberty – her mind.

Thoughts ploughed at her – like a farmer attacking a poorly harvested crop.

Not fit for tendering

Nor the soft touch of her keeper.

 

Soiled ground.

Soiled soul.

Soiled mind.

She fought with all might

Absorbed more -light, water, words…

The elder’s I told you so voice pulled her back into the darkness of her gloom.

Just like a car needs fuel to keep going so does the body need food… photosynthesize.

Try and be what you are destined to be. A tree.

Blasting  those voices back into the void from whence it had snatched out

Reaching over – without much of a search

 Rustled her leaves  -A call  out for new bosom firefly friends.

A loud moan persisted from her innermost pit.

Hunger.

Hunger to be free in the form she still chose to be.

Chronic cramp. If only for the longing desire she had for her legs or wings to ease the pain of being motionless.

It wasn’t enough that she contributed towards sustaining other life species.

This stagnant obsession never seeing a sunrise from another part of the world again.

She looked down at her well-worn form.

How hard can it be to throw herself back to a time when she had legs?

Gills?

Wings?

a moments thought yanked her back like leashed like a dog to this home she felt no affinity .

Forlorn inhaled the scented berries, unravelling the mask of sight at the  ivy,

A glimpse an assortment of psychedelic fleurs initiating that it was time to wake up.

One more push, one more fight.

Forlorn no more she’d set herself free.

Confessions about the illusion of class

Class is an illusion or an in trusion

 

Don’t mix your dish clothes with your serviettes

Ever heard of that one?

My Gran drummed that into all of us as much as she could.

She was born with money but lived the life of Cinderella because she was pretty and Grand  Mamam remarried and acquired two not so pretty daughters.

She fell pregnant at 16 and was made homeless and went to work as a femme de menage and then trained to be a beautician.

She fell in love again and had my Aunt.  Her Love left her like a  stolen kiss and she then had two children to look after.

 

She had to put my aunt and uncle in a children’s home so she could work and survive and send money to them.

It’s not a train smash.

Ever heard of that one before?

My grandpa drummed that into all of us as much as he could.

His parents left Russia in 1918, took on a Polish sounding name and ended up leaving a good life for the slums of Paris.

Grandpa was born in the slums of Paris.

Grandpa took to cruising Paris with the other street kids, always hungry on the lookout for food.

One day Grandpa got a chance to change everything. He got a contract with L’oreal to bring the brand and introduce it to the dark continent that is Africa.

Always an opportunist he took the contract, found my Gran along the way, got married to her (much to the disapproval of my Grans family) and left for Madagascar, then Zimbabwe and finally South Africa.

 

My Gran couldn’t leave her children. She had to tell grandpa that she couldn’t leave France. He asked why and she only managed to tell him about her daughter – my aunt.

My grandpa took my aunt out of the children’s home and gave her his name that very day. My gran couldn’t bring herself to tell Grandpa about her other son. He would remain a secret until he wrote a salacious book about our family many years later.

Grandpa would have taken on my estranged uncle too if he had known.

They went on to have four more children.

Grandpa made a lot of money and finally got live the life of O Riley in South Africa.

The fridge was never empty again.

I got to live a pretty good life too.

Did having money and class make me a better person?

It got me into a lot of trouble.

I had far too much money from my Dad and my Mom’s side of the family.

I got into plenty of trouble.

 

I ended up living in squats and places of poverty. I was always more accepted there for wanting to get high than with other wealthy friends.

The reason: I didn’t hide who I was.

I don’t regret becoming a drug addict.

It taught me that just because I was white and privileged that didn’t mean I was exempt from getting hooked on the same drugs that only the poor and coloured ( is a race in South Africa and not a slur), Indian and black community did.

Class doesn’t buy you happiness.

Drug dealers hated me.

They didn’t get why a white girl with seemingly everything would be wanted to live a ghetto life – have black boyfriends and live in squalor.

One thing having  class did help me with is get me out of a lot of trouble

Before you say money doesn’t buy class.

I already agree it doesn’t.

But have you ever noticed that some people carry themselves a certain way and others have an inbred look?

This is subjective and

Harsh, yes!

Don’t tell me you haven’t ever had that thought!

That person looks like …. (insert your thoughts here)

What I love about the Word Press community is I don’t have a clue who has money and who doesn’t unless of course, a person tells me.

It still doesn’t make a difference. All Good  Writing is classy in my book.

 

 

What irritates me is even though I am living on the poverty line not because of choice but because of choices I  have made – people who don’t know my financial situation assume that the reason I got my daughter back and managed to manage my mental health issues is because of how I present myself and because I look like I have money.

I communicate well.

 

Being privileged does not make me make better choices.

It doesn’t make me better in any way.

There are many people who live in poverty who just like me want to learn. crave to learn.

I truly believe ‘knowledge is power’.

I communicate well because I have educated myself.

Everyone should have this chance

 I’m in debt because I wanted to study in higher education. I am willing to get into more debt to get my Masters.

The problem with the class is the privileged have a better chance at learning to communicate and getting their point across in a “rational” manner from an early age.

We are all born with emotions. It is as natural as breathing

 

For many reasons when we display our emotions in society, we are seen as bad and showing ourselves and our family and friends up.

People with mental health issues -Rich or Poor get outcast as soon as they start leading their life in emotion without knowing the rules of how to be “civilised” to try to get what you want.

 I didn’t get lucky because of my background.

I got clever and I studied and I learnt. I watched people and how they interact. I went on self-discovery courses to find out what my priorities and beliefs and values were and what makes me tick.

I have had at least one chance to marry for money. A pity the person was double my age, got a great pension and couldn’t communicate unless in anger or affection and drunk.

I have never had a rich boyfriend.

 

I think the closest I had to a boyfriend with “Money” was a brief love affair with someone in the army who had so many issues that he accused me of only wanting him for his money.

Funny story. I actually crushed on him because he had travelled like me. He had opinions and ideas. He was creative and he made me feel special.

I am married for love.

My mom is not rich any more but she has a lot of class and really great taste in fashion.

She has been my wedding planner and if our day looks privileged: it is because she got clever

We got clever. We got our priorities right.

I am rich in love.

 

My husband to be was born in a place where everyone who hears the name thinks ghetto, drugs, inbred families and rough around the edges.

Granted Gaz looks like he may smoke a bit of the green stuff.

He has never smoked or taken drugs.

He doesn’t drink. Hasn’t done for nearly 5 years.

He does know how to communicate and get his point across better than a lot of the Rich people I have had the opportunity of conversing with.

His mind is open. He is not ignorant. I love him for that.

We get on so well because we try to put the world to rights, we are inquisitive, always ready to learn and find out about our world and even beyond it.

We laugh. A huge turn on.

Make me laugh or buy me diamonds?

Oooh, what will I go for?