Thursday, 28 February 2013

The AWOL Procedure

[note: this post contains discussion of suicidal ideation]

Sorry it's been so long since a blog but not a lot was happening and then all of a sudden a lot happened!
On Sunday 24th I went on my home leave and when I was packing a bag of more clothes to bring back, I picked up a pair of bed socks they felt heavier than usual and I felt something hard inside them. I found two big pieces of broken cup, still with blood on them, I knew that in the community I used to hide pieces in my bags so that if I went out it didn't matter which bag I took, if I needed to cut then I would have something. The fact I'd put stuff in my socks... It made me sad to think it must've been that bad. I must've been that desperate at one point. I gave the pieces to my Mum and she told the staff who said how good it was that I'd admitted to them and not tried to sneak them back to the ward. This, sparked up the voices; they shouted at me for handing them in, they said I gave in too easily and that I'd regret it when I got back to the ward and needed to cut and had nothing; they'd make sure of it. They got louder and louder as we drove back to hospital and we stopped at some services so I could get a drink then the staff gave me two sedative tablets and when I carried on crying they gave me an anti-psychotic which helped me calm down and get some sleep for the rest of the journey.
Back on the ward, I decided to run away on my unescorted leave and overdose. The voices were telling me to do it and they'd been so quiet for so long and things had been going so well that I was sure I was getting better and now I was back to the start... But it felt different this time.
I went out first on my escorted local leave where I went to Asda and withdrew some money to pay for my taxi away from the hospital then at about half two in the afternoon, the same I got signed out on my unescorted ground leave; I called a taxi company as soon as I'd walked past the staff office and then headed round the back of the building. I was almost at the low fence that I'd jumped over last time when I realised the PICU (Psychiatric Intensive Care Unit) were having their smoke break so I had to wait until I heard them go back in then I was literally inches from the fence when a member of staff started making her way to the staff smoke shelter and I stopped in my tracks but she didn't notice me so I jumped over the fence; scratched my knee in the brambles I landed in and grazed the top of my thigh on the fence but I ignored it and kept running across the path of the old people's home who's garden I'd jumped into, jumped over a fence into a person's garden and walked down their side path, through their gate and across the road to the newsagents. I bought tablets and got my taxi to a nearby city. I bought more pills there and carried on taking them throughout the afternoon, I took a bus to a town an hour and a half away, then went back to the city where I swallowed the final sixteen tablets in one go in the train station toilets. The voices went silent instantly and I felt myself again; for the entire overdose (six hours or so) I'd felt like a zombie, walking around in a trance, taking tablets without thinking. It felt like I was one of the voices; Annie - I didn't care about anyone, I didn't care about myself, I didn't want to be alive. Now I was Aimee again, I found a member of railway staff and asked if there was any police in the station, I explained I was a missing person and he took me to the British Transport Police station just next door. They asked where I'd runaway from and if I'd hurt myself then called an ambulance and asked more questions while we waited. They followed the ambulance to the nearest hospital and two NA's from our hospital came to swap with them. The Doctor took my blood and managed to put a cannula in a vein right on my knuckle which meant a nurse had to bandage two of my fingers together to keep it in place while I was connected to the anti-dote drip. They switched the first drip bag over from going through in fifteen minutes to taking two hours, then I had the second one over four hours and was moved up to a medical ward but there was no beds so I had to stay on the A&E trolley in a room. It was so uncomfortable and I hardly got any sleep but I got on well with the two NAs that were with me so we chatted quite a bit and played eye spy before they swapped with day staff. The voices started getting loud again just before I was moved into a proper bed and a nurse went to get me an anti-psychotic and a sedative but they got really bad, really quickly and I stopped the machine on my drip so the treatment couldn't go through and then when the nurse came with the tablets they all told me that I'd be restrained to have the treatment and that I wasn't allowed to discharge myself and the voices and I got angry so I tried to take the drip out and was squashed to the bed. Someone injected 2mg Lorazepam (a sedative) into my cannula and I felt sleepy but I must've still managed to get the cannula out in the end because while I was sleepy a Doctor put another cannula in my other hand. Within an hour it was bad again and I'd pulled the drip out of my vein so that all of the fluid collected in my hand (it's still being absorbed!) and they injected me with 4mg Lorazepam and an anti-psychotic. Security were called to swap with our staff and give them a break and they were a lot more careless about how they restrained me and how much pressure they used. A Doctor tried to get another cannula in my foot and at one point about six staff were holding me down while she tried to avoid me kicking out at her. She failed three attempts on both feet so they took a blood sample to see if my levels of paracetamol had gone to a safe level, it took about five hours before a Doctor came and said my clotting levels were abnormal so he took another blood sample from an artery in my arm. While we waited for the results (by this time I had the NAs who'd originally been with me back) the female NA came to the bathroom with me because the Doctor had got me a razor and the nurses got me wash things so I had a shower because I knew I wouldn't be able to have one when I got back to our hospital and I didn't want to go to bed feeling all scruffy. My results came back fine and at 3am we came back to hospital.
I had ward round today and at first, I was told me to try harder and to be more honest and I told them I'm honest all the time until I need to do something and then I have to lie through my teeth so I can do it. I'd wrote a letter and one of the staff asked me to read it but I refused because I said what was the point in pouring my heart out to someone who didn't have a clue. They offered to read it, and then the SHO offered and I was worried that if I read it and they still had no clue I'd feel even worse but I thought at least I would've tried to explain. So I read it out:
'I'm afraid this might not make much sense and it'll probably be difficult to understand but this is how my life's been for the past five days and I'm having so much difficulty understanding it myself that I'm struggling to explain it to anyone else.
Rather than just hearing Annie and Albert, I feel I become them now. Originally, it was a case of me having to balance keeping Annie and Albert happy enough so that they're not angry at me whilst staying safe and alive. And I can't always get the balance right and I don't always care or want to because it's so much less effort to give in.
I used to feel like even though I was doing what I was told by self-harming and overdosing I've always known I didn't properly want to kill myself, but not every inch of me wants to fight Annie and Albert and not every inch of me wants to lie still and accept help. And those parts, want what they want whole-heartedly. So not only have I had to fight against the voices, but I've also had to fight against a piece of me I hate to acknowledge exists, so forgive me if I occasionally slip and lose the battle but it's very tiring.

These past few days I've not felt like myself; the voices have felt powerful and unstoppable. On Tuesday, it felt like they were so strong that I actually became them - there was no longer the me who didn't want to kill herself. My head wasn't consumed by their voices, but by their thoughts... It was physically exhausting and I don't know what I've done wrong or what I did to deserve it. I'd thought I was getting better - I didn't lie; the voices were quieter and I did stop wanting to overdose. Up until Tuesday, I was honest but I had to stop so that I could do  it. I felt terrible, I feel like I've let everyone down since they had only just begun to trust me again. I can't stand the person I become when I run and overdose so I wonder if the only way away from this is to die. I'm tired of living and these past few days things have gotten worse and been hard, it's been enough to take all of the hope I'd built up over the past few months.'
The room was silent, they all looked sad, and then my Doctor said it'd been really powerful and that they'd needed to hear that because it'd helped them understand and that he knew they'd never fully understand because they can't hear what I can but it's helped them appreciate how hard I try. I was so pleased and happy I'd ended up reading it out. They didn't give me the leave for mothers day that I wanted but I had a feeling they wouldn't because it's not long away and I'm on five minute obs now and you can't go on home leave until you're on at least half hourly so they gave me leave for the weekend after and my Mum is happy with that but I'm still disappointed in myself.

'I've been trying to do it right, I've been living a lonely life, I've been sleeping here instead, I've been sleeping in my bed, so show me family, all the blood that I can bleed, I don't know where I belong, I don't know where I went wrong' - The Lumineers - Ho Hey