[note: this post contains discussion of suicidal ideation]
Today, is a year since I was brought here... I thought maybe I should tell you all how that came about. I was assessed to come here by two of the staff but I decided I didn't like the sound of the place and refused to come when they offered me a place. On Tuesday 10th July 2012, I took an overdose of 80 Co-Codomol. Once the voices quietened down (after the last 16 pills) I went to a medical Hospital and the voices got louder so I had to leave A&E. The Police called my mobile and said they'd meet me at the bus station and take me home to make sure I was ok, within minutes though, my bus stopped and was surrounded by blue flashing lights, four Police came on the bus and took me back to the Hospital; explaining that they hadn't realised A&E wanted me back. From A&E I was put onto a ward then taken to theatre to be sedated for a central line. I managed to undergo some of the anti-dote for the paracetamol OD (21hour long drip called Parvolex) but the voices became strong and I refused the last 12 hours. I realised something; I realised I wanted to be dead. If I had to live with these voices then I didn't want to live at all. I'd rather have no life than a life shared with them. I was given a Mental Health Act assessment and they told Doctors to treat me under the Mental Capacity Act; I no longer had the capacity to decide what to do with my life. I was taken to recuss, restrained, sedated and put on a ventilator and took to ICU. This was Thursday morning. Thursday afternoon, I was woken up as my blood results normalized. My Mum was in ICU with my Aunt when I woke up; she told me that she'd told the Psych team if I wouldn't go to this Hospital then she wanted me brought here. I told her I would go so there was no need to worry; I think a part of me had been shocked into sorting myself out and the other part of me thought they wouldn't actually make me come. The next day, I went to see my Community Psychologist with my Mum and the Ward Manager from here called; she gave me my move-in date; Tuesday 17th July 2012.
A friend asked me last month if I thought this Hospital was benefitting me. I told her yes, I've made changes since I've been here that I couldn't have made if I'd been in the community and able to self-harm as often as I was. The point is though, I made the changes, the environment has meant I've been able to and the staff have had some impact but ultimately, it's been me who has changed me.
So, here are the changes:
1. I care more about others. The girl in here that I'm closest to (CS) has really helped me to make this change. I've never had a friend like her; she's so similar to me yet so different. On the surface, with music, fashion and things we have completely different taste (I recently got upset that she was dressing like a man!) but then we have things we'll do for the same reasons though those reasons aren't caused by the same thing... If that makes sense. She's also the first friend I've made in Hospital who's not been a bad influence (not that any others have intentionally been), if anything; we're both good influences on one another. In DBT you learn that you have reasonable mind (the part that follows the rules), emotional mind (the part that acts on your feelings) and wise mind (equal of both) and we both joke we're each other's wise mind. We don't listen take the advice we give. Anyway, the relationship I've noticed this change most in, is with my Mum. I care more about her feelings, thoughts and opinions. I take them into account when making decisions. I think the Hospital has helped me make this change because of having to live with all the girls; our behaviours affect each other; when one self-harms it upsets others and if you do something with a ward object then it's taken from the whole ward. Everyone gets punished because of you. It makes you stop and think because you then have to live with these girls and see them every day so the last thing you want to do is piss them off.
2. I think about the consequences. I consider the implications of my urges and I actually let them impact on whether I act or not. In the community, there wasn't exactly any punishments for my actions; there was obviously consequences like hospitalization and all the hoo-har that Parvolex (the anti-dote for Paracetamol overdoses) entails; vomiting, temperature, needles. . . But the thing was, none of it seemed good enough to stop me. None of it was enough to make me think before I self-harmed or overdosed, I didn't consider any of it. Now though, if I self-harm I could be put on 5minute obs, locked out my room for the daytime, cause a room search or lose my leave. Back home I used to buy cheap cups from Morrisons or Wilkinsons for 99p and smash them outside the house and then cut but here, if I smashed my cup then all the pot cups would be taken away and the girls would all be using plastic. It's quite impressive really that I've gone from having four cups and pieces hidden all over my bedroom at home, to not smashing a cup for a year!
3. I know now that the urges will pass. In the community, before this Hospital, whenever I felt suicidal or wanted to self-harm or the voices were bad, I always thought 'this won't go unless I do something about it' and I did; I cut or I overdosed. And it worked. Now though, my coping strategies (because that's what they were) have been taken away from me and I've been forced to learn new ones, and before I have I've had to go without. And I've lived. I've always had it in my head (until now) that if I didn't do what the voices were commanding then I'd implode. Seriously. But now I know that's not possible. I can survive, I can get through it. I can fight without tablets and sharps. And it does pass, I stop feeling suicidal and the voices quieten (sometimes with meds) and I stop needing to self-harm.
4. I know that the voices can't hurt me. It's only me who hurts me. Like I said, I used to fear that if I didn't do as they commanded, I'd implode. Occasionally, I still sometimes believe this but only in the moment that they're loud. I also sometimes thought that someone I loved could get hurt by them if I didn't hurt myself. But now I know it's me that hurts others.
5. I talk more. To my Mum, to staff... When I had an appointment at the opticians, a year ago I wouldn't have bothered telling the staff my concerns or how they could help me get through the appointment but now... I asked for one of the staff to link arms with me and told them to come into the room with me. I tell my Mum absolutely everything that goes on now too because I realised that's the only way she's going to understand and appreciate how hard things are. It was no use struggling alone, overdosing and having my Mum wondering why I'd acted the way I had. Now, if I'm telling her how bad things are she isn't so surprised when I self-harm and she can support me better with it because she knows what's going on in my head.