What is real right now?

Trigger Warning: this post discusses thoughts of suicide and self harm

Definitely real (at 23:49)

  • I’m anxious
  • I’m awake

Possibly imagined (as of 23:53)

  • I’m too anxious to sleep
  • I felt suicidal
  • That the red card (meltdown/crisis indicator) I put on my ward room door earlier was justified

What I think, on my anxiety level

I’m feeling lost in my mind. I feel that my anxieties about the impact the Covid-19 are real, but I don’t know if they’re any worse than everyone else’s.

For (high anxiety)

  • I inflicted pain on myself
  • Cut skin on my arms with my teeth (not that effective though).
  • Had suicide present as a real option to resolve a problem.
  • Being unable to go for a long walk removed an significant coping strategy

Against (normal anxiety)

  • When talking to my care coordinator earlier we got disconnected, and she didn’t ring back, presumably because she felt I was repeating the same anxieties as on the last call to them 2 days ago.
  • Ward staff waited 3 hours to respond to my crisis indicator (suggesting that they thought my feelings would be transient)

What I think, of crisis response

That it appears the ward staff have decided the best course of action in the event I am anxious is to ignore it, hoping that it dissipates. If it doesn’t, then offer me PRN and suggestions of coping strategies I’ve already exhausted, before finishing with that I need to talk to them so they can help, despite the indicator showing that means that I feel unable to talk.

For (me)

  • Leave any anxious person alone long enough (say 4 hours) and the anxiety will fade, even if it’s unpleasant for the anxious person.
  • They did ignore my red indicator, and remarked that I should have gone to the office (I did, but froze and turned back – too anxious to wait).
  • I was so anxious that relaxing made me cry (crying was suppressed as I was frozen up)

Against (me)

  • I did eventually fall asleep, however briefly 4 hours later, so maybe and crisis wasn’t a “real crisis” (remark by nurse on duty)
  • I seem to have upset every staff member I’ve come in contact with today

What I think, of me being alive

If I’m dead I can’t spread the Covid-19 disease, so why not end it all? I’ve got an untested plan for killing myself on the ward, but haven’t used it as if I get caught before completion I probably won’t get another chance.

For (do it)

  • If I’m dead, I really can’t infect anyone else (at least not in a way that’s my fault)
  • The staff used PPE (gloves, surgical mask and flimsy plastic apron) when dispensing medication this evening, suggesting that I am a real contamination threat.
  • The staff don’t know I felt suicidal earlier, so they can’t mitigate what they don’t know about. I don’t even want to tell them after how dismissive they’ve been of the anxiety.

Against (don’t do it)

  • Everyone else will still be alive and infecting each other.
  • Everyone is a threat, not just me, I’m just lost in trying to comprehend how big (or not) of a threat I am compared to everyone else.

What I think, of remaining on the ward

I can see the perks, food, reasonable clean facilities, and I won’t be left with an escalating mess in my room, but the loss of freedom is a big deal, I really want to go for long walks to deal with anxiety.

Don’t need a for/against. I’ve already done it in my thoughts.

Conclusion

I’m losing confidence in my ability to assess my anxiety level, with the reactions of staff, and the general population’s anxiety level impacting my assessment.

Shopping with OCD, during a pandemic

This experience is strange, as for the first time how I act appears in line with everyone else:

  • Taking items from the back of the shelf
  • Using gloves to touch the self-service machine
  • Dodging and freezing in place to avoid getting too close to another human being
  • All round jumpiness

For me this feels wrong, somehow my OCD behaviour is so bad it can’t ever be treated as something to accept, but the world has changed to the point that it is acceptable.

Having a real threat to avoid makes it hard to justify not taking something off a shelf if I just saw someone else handle it. I can’t refute the logic that using a clean carrier bag is safer than reusing a shopping basket, or that taking two carrier bags, one to hold your shopping, and the second to put it after scanning; so your shopping never hits the surfaces on the self-checkout is excessive.

The sheer strangeness of a world where dodging contamination so overtly that others around you can’t help but notice is treated as “normal” isn’t something I’ll ever get used to.

Although despite the efforts of “normal” people to avoid contamination, their behaviour has so many holes in the avoidance, that it isn’t as effective as it seems it should be. My favourite examples are using gloves in a supermarket. I’ve seen people use disposable gloves, winter gloves and the cuffs of their sleeves to supposedly avoid contamination. As they try to shop their gloves/cuffs hit so many things, including themselves in the process – contamination avoidance isn’t a natural habit – that I’d probably experience a lot of distress if I reacted like them. My view still isn’t “normal”, but it’s closer than it has ever been 😛

It does seems like the world should be ending, as everyone has been thrown in a form of contamination hell, terrified that something bad could happen if they mess up and get contaminated (Covid-19).

P.S. Still in hospital, its possible this will persist until the lockdown ends. Finally felt safe enough to ask the staff for what I needed to eat food on the ward, so I’m eating on the ward now. The routine is that mine is served first, and I’m allowed to eat it in my room. Its works.

Coronavirus is terrifying, and it’s not just me!

At the best of times I’m always worried about contamination, now it feels like reality has become a projection of my anxieties.

Watching someone who until the last few days would never used a hand sanitizer makes me feel guilty of their behalf for any excessive hand washing.

The focus on hand washing in the news leaves me feeling like normal behaviour and OCD completion compulsions overlap to the point I can’t tell what is “in my mind” and what isn’t.

I’m primarily worried about transmitting Covid-19, odds are it won’t affect me badly. I’m more worried about going out and causing people who wouldn’t otherwise have been infected to get it.

Outside my ward are posters, emphasised by being surrounded by bright pink paper. Visitors are asked if they have symptoms before coming onto the ward.

What is so strange is that in this new world, everyone is worried about cleanliness, not just me. The reasons aren’t exactly the same though.

The thing I’m going to notice the most is not visiting my parents and siblings. As we reside in different places there’s a risk of me bringing the virus to them (which my mum is worried about), or me bringing it from their house (which the hospital is worried about).

Being in hospital is probably for the best when my anxiety is still so incapacitating. I’d still jump towards being on a more open unit though (got a referral pending).

Getting hold of cleaning products would likely be a major stressor when living in my flat, at least in hospital I’ve got support, and don’t need to procure them.

P. S. Still in hospital, voluntarily, but my anxiety gets in the way of going missing (I tried it yesterday, couldn’t go near a bus or train) so I’m contained by my own mind 😕.

Red, yellow, black or blue?

Those are the cards I can put in the window of my room in a psychiatric ward. They’re personal to me, I’m the only person who uses cards on the ward.

They do cover all the ways I feel though.

Blue

Blue, like a clear sky when the sun is out. This one means “I’m fine”. Green was another option, but blue epitomises my existence. It is pretty sad at the moment, even when I’m “OK”.

Suffering from anxiety isn’t the slightest bit fun.

Black

I’m not angry. I’m not OK. I’m highly anxious and stressed, but it’s lasted so long it feels like the colour and joy has drained from my world.

I don’t need an intervention, but just talking to me lets some colour seep back into the scene I occupy.

Yellow

The perennial fire of my anxiety is heating up. Someone else can still help me get it down, but dealing with it alone is no longer possible.

Someone needs to stop and just wait for me to explain what’s wrong, then help me work through it.

Red

My anxiety is all consuming. It devours everything, including my ability to move or speak, like an unstoppable wildfire. The best way to deal with it is to prevent it from happening in the first place.

Intervention from staff is necessary.

P. S.

I’m still on a ward, not sectioned, the consultant psychiatrist thought I wouldn’t challenge the status quo by leaving the ward, so he didn’t see any need to continue to section. I haven’t gone missing, but I’ve taken plenty of time off the ward during the day.

A thank you letter

To the psychiatric ward staff who check in on me when I’m struggling.

To the staff who don’t give up even when I don’t verbally respond.

To the staff who listen when I talk.

To the staff who check for the yellow/red cards in my door’s window to see whether I’m ok, or too anxious to ask for help.

To my care coordinator who’s always on my side, even when getting me sectioned (not sure how that works, but it does).

To the staff who try to help again even if I won’t always (be able to) accept it.

To the staff who ask me what’s wrong when I act oddly rather than assume I want trouble.

To the staff who do their best to avoid me having another meltdown.

P.S. I know not everyone has a good experience, and it isn’t rainbows, sometimes they mess up, or do something normal that triggers me badly. Moving my stuff for any reason, but they know not to do that now, and avoid it. Being on a ward isn’t a good experience, but I do appreciate the staff who help me cope.

P.P.S. The staff won’t get to read this, but I just wanted to write it out anyway.

Informal, or not?

My section 2, compelling me to remain on a psychiatric ward for 28 days (or until discharge, whichever is sooner) is going to expire next week.

I’ve been told that I can’t go back to my flat, yet, but if I agree to stay on the ward (and not go missing…) they’ll make me an informal patient, otherwise I’m going to get section 3 applied to make sure I stay, probably for another week or so, not the full 6 months!

I know that being informal would give me a lot more freedom, no more limits on leave, I just have to sleep in hospital and take medication at the right time.

However I don’t feel able to agree to stay, or agree to not go missing, as I 100% do not want to be here. The main reason for not going missing at the moment is that I’ll just lose my leave (up to 2 hours, unescorted, a day now).

With a section at least it remains perfectly clear how I feel about being in hospital, and no-one can expect me to react as if I want to be in a ward.

Mind you, the staff did get pretty surprised on the second day I was in my current ward, and they had been “too busy” to take me escorted off the ward so I tried forcing my way through the main door. Something about “that’s not the kind of behaviour we expect from you” – referencing the fact that on the previous (voluntary) admission a while ago I hadn’t done anything disruptive.

That’s it for tonight. Guess I’ll find out what I do next week.

Although I guess if my (very active) conscience would just switch off I’d just “agree” to a voluntary admission and use the freedom to go missing. It does interfere with lying to get something I want done a lot!

P.S. Sectioned or informal doesn’t feel very much like a choice…

(Satire) Trapped in a government facility

This post doesn’t reflect reality (or how I perceive it), it’s just an extreme interpretation of being put and being on a psychiatric ward. Twisting events so it seems like I’m a prisoner on a military black site. I had a friend not want me to discuss me being hospital, so I started thinking about other ways to express it, and this idea came up. The abusive relationship is with OCD (Ocd), treating it like a person.

1535 29-01-2020. Withheld phone call, offering support escaping my abusive relationship with Ocd.

1600 29-01-2020. Picked up in a black vehicle and taken to a state assessment centre.

1630 29-01-2020. Assessment begins, lasts hours, with two active assessors and one unknown operative watching proceedings.

1830 29-01-2020. I agree to stay until an elite assessor can arrive to finish the assessment and paperwork.

0020 30-01-2020. Elite team arrives, official designations AMHP and a Section 12.

0130 30-01-2020. Escorted to small discrete vehicle for transport.

0200 30-01-2020. Arrival at facility only known by an obscure identifier. For my ongoing safety from active operatives I cannot be any more specific. Operatives here dress in blue or green outfits. Those in green seem to be minions of those in blue, and try to extract information to hand over to the blues.

(unknown) 30-01-2020. Assessment by facility director. Given fake sympathy (it wasn’t fake in real life, but this is a fantasy version of events, so I can twist it 😛), and directed to take unknown (I did know) medication to curb unwanted behaviour and simplify my management (I think you get the idea at this point, the staff were great, but twisting stuff you can make it seem like anything but that).

1500 30-01-2020. Escorted around the facility. Staff member following me was jumpy, unknown cause. Possibly determining whether physically assaulting be would be necessary to avoid repercussions from their bosses was necessary.

2230 30-01-2020. Compelled to take two unidentifiable tiny white pills. Sleep came easily after consumption.

0815 31-01-2020. Facility staff, bang on the door to and then enter my unit, with another white pill, and wait for me to take it.

1200 31-01-2020. I start my hunger strike.

1220 31-01-2020. After harassment, agree to consume a sandwich.

(the time blurs)

1400 04-02-2020. Top security, but a shower has broken drainage. This is a government facility after all.

1450 04-02-2020. A red clothed staff member reports the flooding to a green. From what I could see reds cleaned up any mess caused by the questionable activity of greens and ensured the director never had to worry about seeing the effects of their orders.

1510 04-02-2020. Plain clothes operatives put me in a nondescript car for facility transfer. Something about “more appropriate care” elsewhere.

1530 04-02-2020. Traffic cleared in advance to smooth the transfer, I arrive at another facility (can’t identify it here for my own safety).

1420 05-02-2020. Haven’t breathed open air in so long that I attempt to force my way out of the main door. A blue at the door uses non-lethal restraint to prevent me going an inch outside.

1430 05-02-2020. Muttering between blues and greens about that “we said we’d look into letting you out” to try and make my breakout attempt seem unreasonable.

1910 05-02-2020. Deputy director of the new facility directs blues and greens to do short escorted trips outside the containment wing. I’m not about to run from the escort – I have no wish to face down a capture squad.

1920 05-02-2020. Access to food supplies from outside the containment wing. These are superior to those on the wing. Pricing is exorbitant though.

2000 05-02-2020. Ocd is granted access to me for the millionth time since I was detained. Blues and greens seem unaware (at least when I feel too guilty about it to tell them) they keep letting Ocd in or ever making its torture of me worse.

2330 05-02-2020. Ocd, in cooperation with another detainee prevents me from using my designated bed, even though the bed has no visible reason to prevent use.

0040 06-02-2020. A blue and green issue me another bed elsewhere in the containment wing to ensure I sleep without Ocd getting in the way.

1500 06-02-2020. Taken off site to complete mandatory paperwork from the DWP. Rumor is that those who work for them are heartless monsters, and their overseers are pure evil (😛).

2230 06-02-2020. Can finally go to sleep as the last pill of the day has been issued.

0800 07-02-2020. Got to take another pill at this time, as per usual. I was asleep!

1000 07-02-2020. I secure access to my phone after losing access previously (due to needing to leave it with staff to charge). Limited connectivity only lets me transmit this log. If you find it, please get me out of here – they might have lost the paperwork but I exist!!

P.S. Writing this was fun. I am on a section 2, so don’t have a choice about being on a ward, and I do get regular escorted leave now, at least since a psychiatrist, a director, directed the nurses, blues and heath care assistants, greens, to make sure it happened, even if they were “busy”.