As I've already said, this admission is my longest in the four years I've been poorly so there's a lot of things that, as the admission goes on, I'm discovering that are only happening because of the length of the admission.
This post, is about relationships with other patients. In the admissions before this one, I made four friends who were worthy enough to be added on Facebook (!), three of which I regularly kept in contact with. The fourth girl was in Hospital over the summer and we had fun sneaking in vodka and throwing oranges at the ceiling (long story). One of the girls I kept in touch with, was on the PICU I spent the majority of my second longest admission on and the last we saw of each other was when we both 'kicked off' at the same time and they thought we'd planned it so she was shipped off to another ward. Even though we'd barely spent any time with one another, it turned out that she knew the other two girls I kept in touch with. The second girl, was admitted to the same PICU just as I was being moved to an open ward and then she was on another PICU with the another girl. I met her, on the first PICU I'd been on; she was the person who gave me the encouragement to report my 'trauma.' Now, as we each go our separate way in terms of recovery, I find that the relationships aren't as secure as they seemed when we were inpatients. I think that, it's natural for someone to find at least one person to be friends with in such a scary situation but it asks the question, are you only friends because of circumstance?
I have definitely found this on this admission because if all the girls on the ward at the moment were in the community, I don't think any of us would have ever met. But the bonds on this ward seem a lot stronger merely because we're on a long-term ward and therefore we know one another for a longer time than if we'd been on an acute and because of the set-up here; we have groups and morning and evening meetings together so there's a better opportunity to get to know one another that you wouldn't get if you were on acute wards with only medication times in common. Also, I guess the fact that we're all diagnosed with BPD helps us understand one another too.
This, is put to the test though, quite often... Today, for example, the emergency alarm for our ward has gone off at least three times and for three separate girls. I'm unsure whether it'd be ok to write what each of the girls did so I'll keep it vague... The point is, the first incident that happened involved self-harm and the majority of the other girls believe she's mentally poorly and so it was a little more understandable and the other girls remained non-judgemental towards her. The second incident was literally another girl 'kicking off' for being told 'no.' It happens a lot with her though so although the majority of the other girls roll their eyes, it's still disruptive... Especially when it happens during naptime! The third, involved physical abuse and the other girls agreed that although we might've all been there it's only acceptable when you're actually poorly and it's not behavioural. This argument comes up a lot on this ward; whether someone's actions are because of a deterioration in their mental state or because they can't accept not being given the answer they wanted from staff. This is how things are judged because the majority of us have done what the person we're judging has, so the only thing stopping us from being hypocrites is differentiating between the reasons for the behaviours. It's a little... Well, idealistically you'd think that we'd all be unconditionally supportive and things of one another but I think we have the right mix of supportive and helpful... It's rare that someone is spiteful (but it does happen) and the majority of the times we appear to be judging one another or 'having a go' we're just helping one another by pointing out the errors in our behaviour and to teach one another how upsetting the behaviour is for others. On the ward, there is no escape from the affects of your behaviour on others, when in the Community all I had to do was leave the house. But here, I can see that when I run off it disappoints people and makes them worry, and if I shout at staff it upsets the other girls.
These girls have taught me a lot about respect, love and compassion and although I've had my share of fall-outs and tricky relationships with some of them, I wouldn't change them for the world. Especially not my best-friend who is not only another patient but also, a friend for life.