What to Do When a Mind is Struggling

It’s mental health awareness week! Wahoo! To celebrate, for the first time ever, I opened up my blog to my Facebook friends. I asked what they wanted to see more of- and I got a brilliant response! The thing I want to tackle first is how exactly people can help someone with a mental illness. It was in demand and it is so great that people want to help.

First, three important words:

“I believe you.”

Never underestimate this statement. It is subtle yet effective in the way that it works. You see, a lot of people with mental illness feel like they are misunderstood or not believed. Just these words can make all the difference.

You can’t fix it

If you ask a mentally ill person what’s wrong you may get a variety of answers. Some of the problem might be abstract- dark feelings or hallucinations. If this is the case listen. You can’t get rid of these things but you can get rid of the loneliness that person has in the situation. Good things to say are: “That must be really hard”, “You do so well to fight all this.”, “I can see how hard it must be.” And “It will pass soon and I’m here until it does”. Notice there are no questions? Questions can make the person feel interrogated or judged. Listening is your best bet.

If there is a physical problem that is ongoing, making the person distressed, you may be tempted to leap on it. Just because it isn’t as abstract as the above it doesn’t mean you can solve it. If the issue has got the person to the point of complete distress then it is not something easily solved. Mentally ill- not stupid. For some of us logic goes out the window when in crisis, to you the issue may seem to have been completely blown out of proportion but be patient! I’d encourage you to think of what kind of situation would make you feel that distressed, and act how you would want to be treated. It might be that a mug has broken, but the distress may seem equivalent to how you’d feel if you had a near miss on a motorway. As a last thought on this- problem solving at its most effective usually takes place when all parties involved are dry-eyed and rational.

Distraction

Use with caution. Never give the impression that you want the person to stop talking to you or that you have heard enough. Hear them out and then, when things start to slow and calm a bit suggest doing something. “Shall we put a film on for a bit?”, “Is there anything that might make you feel a bit better now?”, “what should we do now?”. Preferably stay with them, do something else and try to promote different topics. If the problem does raise its ugly head, talk about it and then move on. Don’t make the person feel that the problem is being belittled.

Breathing

If the person is out of breath or has irregular breathing then try to encourage a calming breath. Use your voice to calm and instruct in and out breath to a slow count of three. Do it yourself. You can quietly do this without saying anything, just by beginning the exercise yourself and making the breaths audible.

Reassurance

Reassurance is always good. You might be asked for reassurance or you might feel like it is needed. If you are being asked for reassurance- don’t even think before giving it. Say what you have to to get the person to calm down but If the person needs reassurance a lot, and not just in crisis, think more carefully. Don’t use blanket reassurance. I’m going to use an example.

Emergency reassurance:

*person showing distress, irregular breathing etc*: “I won’t be sick will I?!”
Friend: “No, don’t worry you won’t be sick. You’re fine.”

This is the blanket method. It helps when the person is panicking about something very unlikely and the fear or panic is intense not ongoing. If by some chance the person’s fear actualises don’t worry about covering your back. When your friend has calmed down they will realise that you were trying to help and that if anything you were both very unlucky that on this occasion the fear actually happened!

Using this example, if someone is in need of regular reassurance because they have a phobia or perhaps OCD a different tactic is needed. You can’t assure someone they will never, ever, be ill because both you and they will know that that just isn’t true. It can also not be productive to treatment to rely completely on other people’s reassurance.

An Example: “Will this make me sick?”
Answer: “Well you have felt this way before and you are usually fine once you’ve calmed down. Even if you are sick- it’s fine. It happens.”

See how you are trying to make the scary a little less so? This also can become an internal monologue of reassurance.

Mood lifts

If someone is suffering from low mood or depression remember that it isn’t always a case of pulling yourself together and getting on with it. Anything you say to this affect won’t be taken very well by the person at all. This is by far the topic I find most difficult to write on because there is no clear solution. All I can say is try and think of it as like having flu. It’s one of those things, but you can help it get a little better by doing basics. Bathing, fresh air, healthy food and water. Keep in mind that all these things are probably not very appetising to your friend right now so coaxing and persuading might be necessary. Go back to the distraction section of this post and get something light going.

I hope this helps. This is all written from my personal experience so I can’t promise it will work for everyone but if nothing else it’s a start. Let me know if you would like to request any other topics or anything to be covered in more detail. Anyway- happy mental health awareness week!

Angels Can Have Four Paws

I thought I would share this post with UpsideDownChronicles readers as well as people who know me from elsewhere. It’s the next day and I have slept the majority of the day and have lots of aches and pains. Nothing more than what could be expected though. Noodle has waited for me to play all day. She gives me hugs and licks my feet as I sleep; she is never impatient with me. We had a play at lunchtime and she got a good groom and a game of fetch. Now she is sleeping next to me as we watch Mean Girls for what must be the 6th time this week… Night! 

Today I am grateful for my furry colleague and partner in crime. How can this paw perfect little guide dog switch roles so fast? In church she was a guiding dream- she even got blessed. But this evening I had two major dissociation episodes and she turned into my own furry superhero! There was a short time when I came round and it looked like the worst of it was over, so the staff propped the door open with a chair and went to get me a drink. The gremlin gripped me again while they were gone and the last thing I remember was the sound of her scrabbling to get out, under the chair, to find help. If I was fine she would never dream of doing this, It’s against all her training but she knows she must do it if I am going to get help. She went straight to staff and brought them to me. Things could have got so much worse if she hadn’t.

The staff tried to make her calm down but she wouldn’t stop licking and licking me, putting her paws on me. She wanted me back! A member of staff took her out but still she wouldn’t calm. Had I been able I would have told staff that this was pointless- she only calms when she knows I’m supported and safe. Then it died and I was finally okay and she sunk straight back into being a beautifully behaved guide dog. No more craziness from either of us.

Now I’m as tired as if I ran a marathon- but if I stand up she will stand with me. I will slip a finger inside her collar and she will help me. One step at a time. I can’t express how thankful I am to have her in my life right now. I couldn’t do it without her and I certainly don’t say it enough. The nurses are now calling her ‘the super dog’. Anyway this has taken like an hour and a half to type but I just wanted to say thank you to anyone who supports guide dogs in any way. Every single guide dog is a super hero, they are our eyes and so much more. It’s incredible. I am also just so thankful that my little guide dog decided ophthalmology wasn’t enough, and took on the neurological too. Guide Dog of the Year Beyond the Call of Duty? I think it was very much deserved. Who knew angels could have four paws ey?

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Old photo- “If I lay here, if i just lay here, would you lie with me and just forget the world”

A Gnome-Like Creature Has Not Told Me The Name of This Emotion.

I was sitting in my ward round meeting at *Heron Unit. Scattered around the room were a psychiatrist, occupational therapist, doctor, teacher, a nurse and a secretary whom patients indirectly referred to as ‘skinny cow’. Because she was… Skinny… And we didn’t know much more.

Last week I chose to only speak French at ward round. The week before I brought an elephant finger puppet to confer with. The amount that the professionals listened to patients in ward round was debatable, therefore all patients either humoured it or were fearful of it. This week I’m just tired. It’s 4pm on a Wednesday and I am in my pyjamas. At 4pm of any day I am in my pyjamas. I sleep all day and do mindless and isolating tasks all night until the time just tumble-tails into a non-descriptive blur. I eat the same thing every day and am afraid to leave my room.

“How has your week been?” The psychiatrist asks. He doesn’t read the letter I have handed him explaining exactly how my week has been. My voice feels shrivelled and the usual silence spreads as I feel the heavy weight of being psychoanalysed.

“Erm… It’s been… Okay.” I respond in an unintentionally vague manner as I turn my guide dog’s ear the right way round.

“Okay?” He asks. He gestures for me to elaborate.

“The black hole in my chest is back.” I exhale.

“What do you mean? You feel sadness?” He probes.

“I’m not sure. It’s just a big black hole of nothing in my chest.”

This is the way I describe feelings because to me emotions are never stand-alone words. They are so much more. They make your body feel and function differently and change how you perceive the world around you. They are the most powerful things in your universe. Plus asking me to summarise how my whole body and mind feel with just one word seems silly because I, like most other humans, have not been followed around by a small gnome-like creature holding a placard to tell me which emotion I am feeling every five minutes. Therefore- how does anyone know which word fits what feeling? My perception and experience of ‘sad’ might be at the other end of the spectrum to somebody else’s experience of the three letters.

Hence the big black hole. The big black hole that sucks up my life and leaves me rigid. Other descriptions I have given include: ‘frozen limbs’, ‘the hot coal instead of a heart’ and the ‘burning arms’. I got by in such meetings by just continuing to elaborate on my descriptions until eventually the psychiatrist stuck the described emotion into a pigeon hole with a name and kept it there.

I was shown this picture recently and it made me smile. It is a representation of temperature in the body on feeling certain emotions. Note how ‘Depression’ is cold limbs and literally a big black space spanning across the torso. I guess my description wasn’t too far out.

Feelings aren’t words. They are novels.
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My Furry Colleague and Her Sneeze of Needing Back Up

Well Noodle has done it again. Worked her way as an assistance dog into yet another hospital! Regular readers will remember the first part of the saga when I battled to keep her with me in a Paediatrics ward. You can read ‘How to Smuggle a Dog into a Hospital’ here.

We had a very difficult first fortnight in my new unit, questions and issues rained down on myself and my furry colleague near constantly. The subsequent flood filled me with hate for the whole hospital and very nearly washed me out the door. But we got through it. We learnt to groom before seeing the staff who will comment on Noodle’s shedding winter coat and we compromised on many an issue.

On admission I told the hospital about Noodle’s magic powers. But I don’t think they really believed that the little dog (rather shabby looking after a seven hour drive) could do all these things I was telling them.

The first time it happened they thought it was a fluke.
The second time they thought it was odd.
The third, they thought it was lucky.
The fourth, they realised that she is amazing.

And then it clicked. When Noodle watches me go into crisis, often dangerous or disabling for me, she will get out of the room. In fact sometimes she predicts it and won’t go in to the room at all. She will then do everything she can to get human assistance for me. In a ward like my current one there are many fire doors, so she is limited to pacing and barking, but at my old open plan unit she could run straight to the office and then straight back to me. Staff find her at the other side of a door and she greets them with what I have coined ‘The Sneeze of Needing Back Up’. It is distinctively loud and repeated over and over. Head up, head down, head up, head down. In all honesty it does look like the dog is trying to tell you she needs to place an urgent last minute bid on EBay. Either that or she has been given some sort of amphetamine.

Naturally, the incoming member of staff is usually slightly surprised at being so enthusiastically greeted by a Guide Dog who is usually the definition of cool, calm and reserved. On realising that I am not with her they begin checking for me everywhere, but I will always be behind the door that the dog runs to.

I have no idea what I would do without her. She’s learnt her technique over time. It has evolved as my health has deteriorated. She has done ambulances, she’s done three hospitals AND survived my final year of secondary school. I am beginning to wonder if there is anything this little dog can’t do?!

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The World’s Worst Kidnap and I

It’s the second of February and finally, after being transferring unit ‘really soon’ since November, I am being moved from Southampton to Yorkshire. On climbing inside the private ambulance at dawn I discovered that I was being transported in what appeared to be a mobile padded cell. The floor to ceiling carpet and barred cage gave an amazingly authentic insane asylum on-the-go vibe. I hasten to add I was not travelling in the cage; though if I had there would at least have been the benefit of being able to face the same way that we were travelling.

It turns out that playing card games at dawn whilst rattling backwards down a motorway is pretty hard. All parties- myself, dog and occupational therapist were unimpressed at the early start. Myself and OT Supremo were travelling backwards with ambulance man Dave, who kept falling asleep in his seat, facing us. When he wasn’t asleep he was telling us about the bit of motorway we were on or beating us both at Uno.

“Is this how they transfer criminals?” I asked, about an hour and several games of uno in to the journey.
“Sometimes… But we’d have them in the cage with a lot more escorts.” Dave replied, as I wasn’t in the cage and had been told I was being transferred by the ‘secure’ service for petrol cost cutting benefits only, I began to feel more at ease.

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At the service station a couple of hours later (and now in daylight) I realised that the vehicle looked to all the world like a white, rather grubby, transit van. This coupled with the soundproofed interior, cage and blacked out windows made me wonder if I was in fact involved in the world’s most ineffectual kidnap and whether I would actually ever get to Yorkshire. I decided that most hostages don’t merrily play card games with their abductors, so I was safe.

If given the choice on any long journey, one should always take an Occupational Therapist. The things they hold on their person on a daily basis is undeniably impressive. The OT Supremo I travelled with had in her handbag alone; a colouring book, a large assortment of pens, a decorative fabric heart to be customised, and a multilayer Tupperware box of nuts and seeds. All of which were put to good use on the journey.

Seven hours on, the van pulled up and we all jumped out lead by Brian the driver. With his clipboard in hand he went into a rather decrepit looking building, only to return five minutes later.
“I went in and said we’re here and they says that it was a unit for the deaf… So I think: ‘she’s blind’ and then they tell me that the outpatient bit is Nextdoor. So… I go to outpatient, but I says ‘we don’t need outpatient, we need inpatient’. So they gives me this address.” He recounts whilst gesturing to the mobile padded cell and clutching a street name on the back of a leaflet, clearly a bit perplexed.

“He’s good is Brian. Used to be a traffic cop. Driving’s in his blood.” Dave tells us when we are belted back in the van. “Isn’t that right Bri?!” He shouts through the tiny Perspex hatch which Brian had been silently driving behind all day. Brian then proceeded to sail past my new unit three times, whilst grumbling about not having the post code. It was on the third time that we saw *Cheery Lodge sail by that OT Supreme spoke up and got Brian and Dave to pull up and move my luggage inside.

And then I was there. In the appropriate region and with genuine northern people at last. However I was also saying goodbye to someone who helped me infinitely during my time at *Heron. Saying goodbye to OT Supremo was hard, and with her I said goodbye to my make-shift home for the last six months. And the future, in a brand new unit, seemed a whole lot scarier.

The ‘Nuh-Huh-Suh’: Just North of Basingstoke

It is Saturday the 31st of January and I am walking my usual circuit around the grounds of *Heron Unit. A nurse is with me, amicably filling me with optimism about my upcoming transition to a new unit.

“So where exactly is it?” She asks as we turn down the path and pass some adult patients in their usual cloud of smoke.
“Back up North. It’s in Yorkshire!” I have spent the last five months being ‘the Northerner’ in a hospital in which all the patients are Southerners from about as south as you could get. Any further south and the hospital would be in France. The thought of going back up North had never failed to cheer me up over the past few weeks.
“So that is north of Basingstoke right?” There was an amazed silence as I stop walking to give her a withering look. “I’ve never been north of Winchester…” She admits, unable to meet my gaze.

This example was overall representative of what the whole patient and staff body felt about my move.
“Yorkshire? Is Birmingham near there?” They would ask with an alarming lack of irony.
The new unit is indeed North of Birmingham, and Basingstoke. Excessively North of Basingstoke in fact. 246 miles North from it.

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To the girls, all of whom I have seen arrive on the ward, my move is a huge conversation point. To them it seems inconceivable that there won’t be a dog on the unit. Plus the concept of ‘The North’ appears to be of similar sustenance in their heads as that of Neverland. They have never been, they can’t imagine it and they get alarmed when they get confronted with Northern propaganda such as Coronation Street.

“Is it NHS?” Was another top question. The word NHS was said in a Miranda style whisper. We were, after all, in a private unit which we unanimously agreed was appalling, so the idea of anyone going for treatment on the National Health was worrying. I’m pretty sure children who get put in psychiatric units on the ‘Nuh-Huh-Suh’ appear, looking sad and impoverished, on comic relief. I’m no snob- but by the time move day came I was convinced I was going to get frostbite on the journey up and starve to death on a diet of gruel when I arrived. But still- it was north. So it certainly would be better than anything that the south could offer me.

The Negatives of CAMHS Inpatient Treatment

This is the second part of my views on inpatient treatment in the Children and Adolescent Mental Health Service. To see the first part, covering my Positives of Inpatient CAMHS Treatment, you can find it here. The following post will be focused on what I consider to be the negatives of inpatient care.

The first point I want to make might seem obvious. You are going to be with other ill people. This can be good because you can meet some amazing and supportive people who truly understand what you’re going through. But it can also be hard. Making friends with another ill person can mean you are taking on their problems as well as your own, and this could make your stay in hospital even longer. Plus if you go to a unit where there is an excessively negative vibe amongst the patients you can find yourself with ‘friends’ who will help you to feed your illness. For example I have witnessed people passing sharp items between their friends, if you want a deterrent from doing this: hepatitis C isn’t too great.

In most CAMHS units young people have limited access to mobile phones and internet, if any. This means it can be quite easy to become detached from the real world and people who don’t have a mental illness. I’m pretty sure that whilst in *Heron unit a zombie apocalypse could have occurred and I would have had no idea. In my new unit, more on that in another post, we luckily have more access to devices.

Ward dynamics are everything. At times being in a unit can feel like the front line of a war zone with alarms and screaming people. It isn’t pleasant. But at the same time there can also be a lovely family-like atmosphere. It really is draw of the hat as to which you get, but most people experience a bit of both. There is actually pros and cons to both atmospheres as the family-like scenario can turn a bit pack-like and with that comes a dangerous patients VS staff situation. My advice is the four P’s: Plotting patients produces nothing but problems.

Stomach drop situations are all too common. That gut wrenching feeling when a problem presents itself and you are torn over what to do. I can think of lots of times over the last six months where I have seen things I shouldn’t have and had to make tough decisions. I’ve been the ‘tell-tale’ in a lot of situations where patients could have got seriously hurt or worse. But the sad truth is that on some psychiatric wards you are in a parallel universe where between patients “Hey I’ve just taken an overdose” is worth a giggle and a high five. There is always rule breaking of some sort going on of course, but I just know that in serious cases if I kept quiet and someone got hurt I would never forgive myself.

I can’t quite make an overall decision on whether my inpatient experience has been positive or negative, but I’m hoping that in the future I can make it a positive experience for myself. I live in hope that one day I will be grateful for this time because with it hopefully I will have managed to turn my life around.

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The Positives of CAMHS Inpatient Treatment

Having been an inpatient on *Heron ward for the last five months I feel I have gained enough experience to write a bit about the positives and negatives of inpatient treatment. Please note that I have only experienced two hospitals, and treatment varies from unit to unit. This first post will be on what I consider to be the positives of inpatient treatment.

Hospital treatment means that you are in a place of safety 24/7 and have round the clock care. For those who need it this makes inpatient treatment the safest out of the tier four CAMHS care options. This can take the pressure away from a family which is likely suffering from the stress of maintaining the safety of a mentally ill young person. Family therapy can also be used to build better communication in the family for when the young person’s inpatient treatment ends and they return home.

The amount of actual 1:1 psychological therapy received varies from unit to unit, but nursing and care staff, in my experience, are kind and supportive- these are, after all, the qualities they get paid for. I have seen members of staff stay on after a twelve and a half hour shift, sometimes for four hours or more, because the ward is in trouble. This is because they care, nothing more and nothing less. They understand that a patient in crisis can throw the whole ward out, and they want to try to keep everyone as safe as possible. Depending on the ward or unit different therapies are available; DBT, CBT, art therapy, occupational therapy, family therapy, psychotherapy or groups. It means you can often do more than one therapy at a time, in theory making therapeutic success much more likely.

In hospital you also get some space away from all the *stuff*- the static in your day to day life which can wear you out and make a mental illness trickier to fight. Things like the constant bombardment of social media, deadlines and commitments. Not that these things should be avoided, but that it gives you a rare opportunity to focus on purely recovery.

When in hospital medication can also be altered straight away without waiting for a consultant’s appointment, and for anyone who has experience of attempting to get hold of a duty psychiatrist in the middle of the night this will come as a massive pro! It also means that PRN (as and when medication) can be given when immediately, this is really good for people whose illness fluctuates or those who experience episodic symptoms.

So those are my positives of inpatient treatment, however it is definitely not something which works for everybody and I also think there are a lot of negatives. To get the balance, keep an eye out for my Negatives of CAMHS Inpatient Treatment post coming up in the next couple of days.

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The Great Escape of Snap, Crackle and Pop

In the name of confidentiality, and my own amusement, I will rename the characters in this story Snap, Crackle and Pop. This is the story of the most successful escape I witnessed in my time on *Heron psychiatric unit.

Snap is seventeen, likes smoking and being right about things. She had been in the unit for the longest and during her time there her hatred had only increased for the way things were run. Known for her rebellious streak; she was the classic escapee.

Crackle is younger. She likes a bit of mischief but is generally cool headed. She was not thought to be the escaping kind.

Pop is new to the unit. She had already been in hospital once before and on her first night in Heron ward managed to climb the garden fence. She was very determined.

It was a normal October night and the day shift was drawing to a close. Well I say a ‘normal October night’ but for some reason Heron ward is always shrouded in either an icy veil or Saharan heat- alternating at oxymorons to the rest of the world. The night staff were in the handover meeting and the day staff were packing up for home. In the unit there was a slight tension in the air, like a precursor of what was about to happen. Most of the patients could be found whispering to each other: “what’s going on?!”

Go back to lunchtime. Snap is up to mischief. As the rest of the ward sits around the table scrapbooking she has snuck into the office. She has been doing similar all day, keeping the staff well on their toes. Most around the table don’t even realise she is in the office, a place forbidden to patients. When a nurse enters to find Snap pretending to type notes she bursts out laughing and merrily tells her to get out.

I have moved from the table in the communal area to the lounge with fellow patient D.
“What’s going on?” I ask after observing the tension in the air surrounding us. Mentioning it feels uncomfortable, itchy.
“I don’t know…” She replied. “But Snap, Crackle and Pop have jumpers on.”
“Jumpers?!” I ask as I rearrange my pyjama vest top. No one gets dressed on the unit. Pyjamas are our dress code and any layer of clothing of a thermal variety instantly attracts suspicion within the Saharan heat.
“Yeah…” She mumbles, miming taking a puff on a fag.
“Ah… Must be” I reply knowingly. The three had been known to sneak in cigarettes and lighters to smoke beneath the bathroom fans. The jumpers must have been so they had a removable layer that didn’t smell of smoke.

“Why have I not got a key on my belt?” Asked a member of night staff as they tried and failed to let a visiting parent out.
“Has anyone seen Snap, Crackle and Pop?” Asks another looking worriedly at the observation folder.
“Shit.” We say simultaneously. “They’ve got a key.”

After telling staff the ward was alive with an excited buzz. How long would it be before they were brought back? We took bets. Snap appeared to have used her time in the office well and had taken the key fob for the main doors from one of the staff’s key chains. We later found out that a lighter and cigarettes had gone for the ride too.

Police came in and out examining the mugshots of the three patients, taken from the front of the observation book. As I let Noodle out in the garden for her final wee we could hear a police helicopter circling above.

“I noticed Snap had jeans on. I thought it was odd!” A member of day staff exclaimed to the group, having stayed three hours after her home time.

At around half past eleven Snap and Crackle appeared looking quite morose. The rest of the patients were sent to bed early so that all staff could help in conducting strip searches. “That was the worst bit of the night.” Snap recalled days later.

Concerns were rising for Pop, sectioned under the mental health act and out in the dark alone. The helicopter circled and circled until eventually in the early hours of the morning I heard her bedroom door close and her returning to bed.

The key, which the three had claimed to have thrown as soon as they got out, was handed in by an anonymous source where it then spent some time in the office in a cup labelled “Do Not Use”. I’ll leave it to you to imagine where it was inserted in order to go unnoticed in a strip search. Management wanted it to be disinfected and put back on the key chain. Staff wanted it incinerated. Staff won and an automatic closer was put on the office door.

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If.

I am currently staying on a hospital ward, I’m by myself so my internet friends are the ones to keep me company most of the time…

If I had pneumonia I could curse my lungs in the comments of my latest status update.

If I had norovirus my friends would accept that it could get worse before it gets better.

If I had a broken leg most people would feel comfortable about asking how I am doing.

If I had cancer it would be despicable to say that it is my own fault that I am ill with the disease.

I have none of these illnesses. But I am in hospital with an illness which makes me the odd one out on the ward. And so begins the most difficult and agonising blog post I have ever had to write…

I have a chronic and acute condition. It is there all the time. It dabbles around inside me and latches onto anything and everything. It makes me do things I don’t want to do. It keeps me up at night. It makes me painfully bony and my skin coarse. It makes it hard for me to do anything, because it hurts so much sometimes.

What is it?

No nasties are attacking my nervous system and no cells are concocting chaos. It is a disorder which is invisible to the naked eye, but shows up like wild fire on a brain scan.

I have Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and Depression.

Why does no one ever mention that like a physical illness a mental illness can kill you if you don’t get the treatment you need? OCD has had several cracks at trying to win the tug of war for my life. But there is no way I will let it win.

So I am in hospital. I got rushed here in an ambulance. Not that dissimilar from a severe asthma sufferer my illness had stopped me breathing. On arrival I was assessed and told that I am too ill to return home. Just like the man in front of me in the queue who had just had a stroke. A normal heartbeat for someone my age is around 100bpm but mine spikes around 170 due to the anxiety which is coursing through my capillaries. My muscles ache from being forced to repeat the same actions again and again. My skin is full of potholes, where the wheels of the condition have dug in too deep for me to bare. My body is a puppet and my life feels like it has disappeared. Below all of the layers of this condition’s destructive attempt at self soothing is the girl who is left to write this post. Scared, Ill and battered.

I am in a paediatric ward at the moment; waiting to be transferred to an inpatient psychiatric unit especially for young people. I am lucky enough to be in receipt of an NHS funded place at a private hospital. I will stay there until I can move to a different unit closer to my own psychiatrist. I don’t know whether I will be able to blog while I am in there, and I don’t know how long exactly I will be there for. But when I come out of the other side I hope to feel a lot better!

If it is so hard, why am I telling you? Well I want to live in a world where people can go into hospital to regain mental health, just like they can physical health. I want people to see these conditions as a real threat to not just people’s happiness, but to their lives. Mental Illness is not something that just happens to the weak. It is by no means a choice. It is also not something that a positive mind alone can solve. My experience with mental illness is that it explodes, smoking in the most distant parts of your mind and rapidly growing outwards. But it can also lurk under a person’s skin for a lifetime. In my opinion, as far as bullies go, mental illness is the biggest coward of them all.

If you are judging me by making assumptions because you cannot see my condition just think: my eyes mean I don’t always notice when people are using walking sticks. But just because I can’t see the stick does it mean that the person can walk fine?

 

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