Psych Ward Part 6
Is it part six? I think it is. Welcome to the first sober installment of my blog, I am back on the chlorodiazepoxide and another detox. Things moved on day to day, the Fife Circle maintaining some sort of order. I lay in bed a lot, so much so in fact that I got bored and decided to lie on the floor instead. Soon Tracy was called who ascertained that I was basically fannying around. Which I was.
I tried to avoid Clark as much as I could, seeing as he couldn’t hold a conversation, but rather would retell the dreary history of his life at length. Sometimes it was unavoidable though and I found an electronic drumkit for my phone that kept him happy.
Duncan continued to demand my appreciation of his musical masterpieces. Don’t get me wrong, I thought they were good, but jeez he didn’t let up. I could see why he was banned from playing his guitar in public places. Disconcerting, that’s what I would describe him as. He would stare at you, but not say anything, making you do all the running. One night he texted his old bandmates telling them that the band would be reformed if they all agreed, but they only had five minutes to reply or it was all off. I wasn’t in a strong enough place to write him off as a twat.
There were a few good nights though, one was when Bob – an older guy who was in for suicidal intent set up a poker game, we had no money or chips so used dominoes for money. The curfew came too early so I pushed all in with not much and lost. Good fun though.
Bob ended up being my favourite person there. He was completely self aware and had lived a life of extreme sports, his body had packed up and he just didn’t fancy living the humdrum existence any more. He had a secret laundrette technique, I’m glad someone did because a lot of the inmates reeked something awful.
I spent a lot of time looking at twitter and facebook. That and hill climb racer. And my guitar. Leigh brought my bass in too and I had a jam with Duncan. I say jam, I mean he had worked out some crappy complex bassline to work with one of his songs. I, of course had to play it.
At some point I decided the nurses all hated me. I decided to confront them about it. Cue the lorazepam – the cure for all ails it seemed.
I promised Carl’s plans for the future so here goes. The first one was that we – the Ents – would go down to London and start a drug importing ring, there wouldn’t be any problem with existing gangsters because we were Scottish for fuck’s sake, we’d batter them all. As I worked in IT I would be the hacker/logistics man. I had learned by now just to go with it.
The other plan was that Carl would take himself to the woods every day and skip, then box, then skip, 24 hours a day, because as he said, you can’t overtrain, that’s a myth. He showed me his biggest punch which consisted of throwing himself across the room. I tried to tell him that he had no guard, but what was the point.
Maggie, the lady with Huntingdon’s, was annoying me – who wasn’t. She always wanted a cigarette and when she got one, took two draws and threw it away. Then she wanted a cigarette. Hours went by with her ranting at the nurses for another one.
And while I’m on the topic of downright fucking annoying, there was this old woman who was very greedy, when offered a sweet she took the biggest handful, tried to stick them all in her mouth and nearly choked. I made the mistake of sitting next to her one day.
“What’s that on the telly son?”
“It’s the news.”
“I’m just having my tea son.”
“What’s that on the telly?”
“I’m drinking my tea son, mm, I like my tea.”
I sound like a miserable bastard I know. Maybe it’s six days off the sauce. Next blog will be the last. Byee.
Hi, here’s part 5.
The “Fife Circle” continued, day after day. Sometimes I had to queue up for ages, in my socks as I was getting too lazy to wear shoes, leaning against the corridor wall waiting to get meds. Eventually each of us were allowed into the pharmacy room, one at at time. A large formica table was unlocked, table-top lifted, a printout checked, then pills into a disposable cup. Pills into gob, cup filled with water and down the hatch. I think by this point I was only on fluoxentine (prozac), antabuse (makes you have an allergic reaction to alcohol), acamprosate (stops addiction, allegedly) and thiamine (helps brain repair after all that nasty alcohol abuse) with lorazepam (sedative) and zopiclone (sleeping pills) dispensed as needed. Yeah. Not much to swallow four times a day.
The lorazepam and zopiclone, I could see how one could get really into those, they just chilled everything out, made everything nice and easy. I’d like to say that I didn’t take the piss with asking for them, I tried not to, but they were nice.
I’ve realised in previous blogs that I may have got mixed up between a couple of characters, namely Carl and Clark. For the record here’s how they go:
Carl: Captain Bipolar, prone to violence, also prone to being hilarious.
Clark: Talks incessantly, can’t listen, lives in a track suit.
Glad we’ve got that cleared up. Carl was now the scariest person in the ward, sice Boab had been moved on. Never did find out what happened to Boab, there one day, gone the next. Carl was generally in one of two states, a shuffling zombie, or a hilarious madman. He would sleep for 24 hours sometimes. I think the zombie state may have been medically assisted, as sometimes he was involved in loud discourse with the nurses late into the night. Usually in a funny way. He’s be standing at their workstations in the middle of the ward ranting.
“You! You’re only authorised to make level 2 decisions. I make level 3 decisions in my sleep!”
One night I couldn’t sleep and was out in the yard smoking about 2am. The snow was falling. Carl, of course, was out in a t-shirt.
“I’m King Cahoot!” he kept shouting at me, “I command the moon!” I tried to point out the errors with that statement but I suspect cleverer and better people than me had tried and failed in the past. The best thing was just to go with it when he was like that.
There were Ents and Huorns in the ward. The Huorns were as silent and motionless as you’d expect. I hung around with the Ents.
Talking of Lord of the Rings, there were a couple of days when a student doctor came to visit me. She was a nice person, a young Muslim lady. Can’t remember her name. She was on a grand tour of the nether regions of the NHS with other student doctors. We hit it off. She was a big Harry Potter fan and had a hankering for the hard stuff. The Tolkien. On the first day we must have talked for about 2 hours, she told me how she felt bullied by the others in her class. I could understand and somehow we got onto fantasy novels. She wanted to start on the Tolkien and had question after question. In my formative years I learned that shit through and through so was proud to display proper nerdy knowledge. She came back the day after but I was not good, I had taken to lying on the floor, don’t know why I just wanted out of everything. I was thoroughly pissed off and she left sharpish.
A worker in the ward, Tracy was starting to visit with regularity. She was like the suicide detector. Had her own difficulties which I heard at length. She escorted me to the café and we talked. She was largely talking about herself and her life but I knew that she was assessing me. She wasn’t a nurse, I don’t really know what her position was. Thing was, she was really nice and I warmed to her immediately. I hope her life is going well for her, but once you leave you never find out that kind of shit.
Leigh, my wife, was coming in every night. We watched films, talked, hugged. She was really strong in this time. It surprised me how much backbone she had. I always knew she was tough but still. One night we went to go to the café and I was told that I wasn’t allowed. It was hard. I was still on suicide watch and the nurses weren’t that keen on me going out. Eventually they relented. When we got back, my “support worker” turned up. This was a nurse who I had never talked to but her name was written on the board in my room. So she must have been supporting me in some way. I am being sarcastic. This was Nurse “Saysitlikeitis”. A formidable grey haired woman. She told my wife about a hitherto undisclosed suicide attempt. I mean she didn’t realise but I didn’t need that. Blustered her way out of it with “I call a spade a spade” chat. She never spoke to me again.
Leigh left me tv shows, food, coffee and love. I cannot understate how great she was during this period. I’m so goddammed lucky to be married to her.
On a wintery-sun-day in the yard Clark scratched his and a long past lover’s initials onto a slab. He talked about it like it was last week. There was no fucking way it was last week, last year or maybe ever.
Next time on the blog you can barely look through your fingers at, Carl’s plans for the future. Clark.
Hello reader, yadda yadda, part 4 of my nuthouse blog.
After my little suicidal phase I was moved to a room across from the nurses station. It was much the same but looked at the outside world rather than the internal quadrangle. Same deal, “leave a gap in the curtain so you can be watched.”
I was bored and feeling a bit weird when I started to wonder about the bomb. Not really a bomb as such, but a firestorm. I’m not really that crazy, I think it was an exercise in civil disobedience that I dreamed up while staring out the window. Because in this room staring out the window became a fairly serious pursuit. I had a phone charger, I thought this probably contained a ac to dc ladder, making the plug have the two poles.
If I filled the bin liner with soapy water, separated and exposed the live and earth cables in the plug and put them in the water, then bubbles filled with hydrogen would start to form on the surface. These bubbles could potentially fill the whole ensuite before I took a lighter to them. Never tried it in the end because I am chicken. Just as well.
In my other attempts to kill the boredom I tried to find external wifi, there were a couple of houses nearby that I could see so I switched on the wifi on my phone and checked all the windows I had access to. The only place I could get a connection was my room, that would have been handy but the wifi was encrypted and a search of the apps store only found fake wifi analysers. So fail again. I did look proper mad checking the windows in the common room. Had to explain myself to a couple of inmates.
I did three self portraits, each more detailed and better than the last.
I met an inmate who seemed, seemed, I said seemed sane enough. He was a young guy walking around with electric guitar, playing it. He had been warned to stop playing it in the common areas as people were getting fed up. I asked him about the guitar and off we went. Duncan was terribly serious about his music. Pretentious to a certain extent, but he had the skills to back it up, sometimes I felt a little bit cornered when he was showing me stuff – he had his own private room as well where he was making press packs for his latest release, he had even written all the parts for this non-existent album out in stave. As I say he was good, but more than a little intense, self absorbed and angry. Later on, I got my guitar and bass into the ward, we jammed – I played and sang for the first time in public, the only time. In a psych ward. I played “Between the Bars” – an Elliott Smith song. Duncan was unimpressed.
I spent most of the daylight hours that were my own looking out the window as I mentioned earlier. There was a stunted tree near the window that had no leaves. It did, however, have some weatherbeaten pieces of plastic that blew in the wind. I stared at them a lot. I got why “High Flying Birds” was a cool band name.
One night Duncan and I were playing chess. We were becoming friends I suppose. Carl sat at a neaby table with Clark and other cronies. Carl was bipolar, not a little bit, a lot. He frightened me a bit and I hadn’t really chatted to him. Duncan told me that Carl and he had had a fight recently. Carl started his gambit by being as racist as he could in loud tones. This annoyed me, but I’m not a militant-must-stand-up-for-my-views type. Duncan was and Carl knew it. They began trading insults. I felt like it was really about me and the fact that I hadn’t spoken to Carl but was here playing chess with Duncan, fuck knows if that was right but it was how I felt. Carl began talking loudly about how Duncan was planning his downfall. Planning his downfall on a chess board. I kept my mouth shut and tried to look annoyed. Pathetic but self-conserving I suppose. This was reaching the peak. Duncan sat and drummed his fingers on the table. He threw the last game, the decider, I think he wanted away and I could not argue.
It didn’t kick off but it felt close.
Next time: I get Lord of the Rings geeky on a Harry Potter fan. I lie on the floor. Carl makes me laugh.
Hello Reader. Here is my part three of my blog.
The first few days in the ward passed uneventfully, I kept myself to myself and was constantly bombed on chlorodiazepoxide so did not have much time to think. Just felt comfortable. It was as the withdrawal treatment drug began to be withdrawn that I really woke up to everything.
Initially I spent most of my waking hours in my room, scared to go out and interact with anyone. I just left for meals, cigarettes and meds. I was told that the curtain had to be left at least partway open all the time, so I could be observed. This didn’t bother me too much. On the third day I sat at a table with some of the other males. John, Carl and Boab. They were all very chatty and didn’t seem to be insane at all.
John was the oldest with a dry sense of humour, I liked him straight away. He didn’t seem in any way insane or whatever you are supposed to call it. He told me soon after he met that he was in for suicidal intent.
Carl was an unassuming man who had some kind of personality flaw. He had to tell you the same stories every day, he couldn’t listen to what was said to him and he constantly started conversations based on nothing, for instance, “Steven he’s called is he? I knew a Steven once….”
Boab, was well, Boab. A likeable rogue. There was something frightening about him though, I couldn’t put a finger on why.
Anyway, we all got along just fine. John called the repetitive nature of the day’s events “the Fife circle”. This was meds-breakfast-coffee-meds-lunch-coffee-meds-dinner-coffee-meds. The whole day was hung on these things. It meant it was never long before something happened and you knew what that something was going to be. The coffee was so weak. It was like hot water with a hint of coffee. Everyone had to keep Maggie, a lady with Huntington’s disease away from the hot water as she shook so much she poured scalding water everywhere.
About day three was where I started to come unstuck. The level of chlorodiazepoxide had come down and I was starting to feel less like a zombie, the trouble was that I was off alcohol, drugs and venlafaxine which left me feeling very odd. My wife called me on my mobile. She had had an argument with my Mum who told her that we were very rude people and that I was at fault for all that was wrong in our relationship with my parents.
My wife was crying. She was so stressed out that I was in hospital and had been expecting some sort of support rather than accusations. You’ve seen the Incredible Hulk right? That’s what I became. I’ve never been so openly furious. I phoned my parents and got my Dad who told me that it was all my wife’s fault. Bang. I blew a fuse, I went incandescent. I was roaring and screaming down the phone. I wanted to kill him. A couple of nurses came in and asked me to calm down. I ignored them. A lifetime’s worth of pent up anger was unleashed after which I hung up and thought calmly, that’s it for any relationship with my family. They never did visit me in hospital. After I left the ward I had to phone and apologise or I still would have no relationship with them. The only guilt I really felt was that I attacked my Dad when really he was not the problem.
So, in time Ram Man came in. I call him Ram Man, that’s a bit cruel but he did look like that. He assessed how crazy I was and realised that the fury had left me. Then he talked at me for half an hour about why he became a nurse. I was distracted and not really listening. After this I was taken to the medication room and given extra meds. Lorazepam, like diazepam but stronger and a zopiclone, sleeping pill. I was out like a light.
The next night I was really not well. The family thing was looming over me and I was starting to really rattle with no alcohol. After dinner I lay on the ground curled in a ball crying for a while. I decided the time had come to top myself. I took the belt they had left me and closed the ensuite door on the buckle so the belt was secured at the top of the door. I struggled to make a noose out of the rest of it. I tried to hang myself. It didn’t work, the noose kept coming undone. The feeling passed.
I felt I should probably tell the nurses, so I went out asked one of them if I could speak to her privately. In an interview room I got it said. I was detained in the interview room for half an hour while they searched my room. Belt and chargers were removed. Double lorazepam and double zopiclone. Bam. I was knocked out.
Next time, guitar, art and my plan for a bomb.
Hello Reader. This is part two of my visit to the psychiatric ward blog.
I organised a couple of weeks off work and packed a bag. I wasn’t sure what to bring so I went for lots of underwear, my phone, a supply of tobacco, the meds I was on and a few books. I got a taxi to the hospital, I had been asked to turn up about 1300.
At the hospital, I got a last fag in at the door, picked up my bag and walked to Ward 2 on the ground floor. I knew where it was from a previous visit for questioning by a psychiatrist. I got no more than a few steps in before I was greeted. The nurse knew who I was.
She asked me to sit down in a small room. They took my bag away. I was left alone for around a while. The room had a bed and a window overlooking an internal quadrangle. Through the lace curtains I saw people pacing by, I heard moans and unrecognisable pieces of conversation. I was nervous and resigned.
I soon realised that this was to be my room, so I lay down on the bed, it was comfier than the plastic chair. The wall that faced the corridor had a window right along the whole wall. It was curtained off, and there was a curtain over the door. Eventually Alison, the head nurse, came in with one of the heavies. The male nurses were heavies. I could appreciate why that was. Alison asked me about my suicidal ideation and seemed quite concerned about how my description turned from “I would do this..” to “I am going to..” this was no affectation, I didn’t realise I had said that. My bag checked out, I was told that they would trust me with the belt and charger cable for now.
All my meds were removed from the bag. I had been on venlafaxine and prozac, now I was on whatever they decided to give me.
Shortly after Alison’s visit, Dr G and his apprentice turned up. Dr G walked with a stick despite being young, I couldn’t help but compare him to Mr Glass out of the “Unbreakable”. He was a smart guy, he was also extremely smiley. His apprentice, Dr S was a young woman in tight fitting and quite erotic clothing. I thought that was weird, I thought, surely the tight clothes were a distraction from what she was trying to do. Later on, I realised that they all have their tricks. To be honest I don’t recall much of that visit, bar that they told me I was not getting any more venlafaxine. This concerned me as when I didn’t take venlafaxine I got a bit crazy. Super angry, righteous, dizzy and building my tendency to “wing it” with reality.
So, after all these visits I was on my own for a while. I didn’t dare leave my room and instead settled down to some ceiling staring. The polystyrene tiles had an indentation that travelled round the room. Heating came from a large vent with a lever that didn’t seem to do anything. The ensuite was large and sterile. The mirrors were made of plastic and warped my appearance. Next to the bed were buttons for radio – didn’t work, and to call the nurse – never pressed it.
Finally dinner time arrived. A nurse, Ram Man I think, came to tell me to go to the common room. I left my room and headed out into the little bad world. The ward was effectively a long corridor. It had three dorms – one female and two male with six beds in each, and some private rooms. halfway down the corridor were a bank of desks where most of the nurses sat. At the end of the corridor it turned left and opened into a large room.
The common room had a tv, a pool table – not allowed to use it without supervision, a kitchen – not allowed in there at all and a load of tables. A man was serving some unappetising food from a trolley, people were queueing. I kept my head down and queued as well. Someone touched the back of my head and I turned. A lanky, tattooed skinhead grinned at me.
“Nice scars,” he said pointing at the back of my head where I lacerated myself on a barbed wire fence at the age of fifteen.
“Barbed wire,” I replied. He paused for a moment.
“Getting in or getting out?” he asked. This was Boab. He was alright, once I got to know him. Wouldn’t trust him mind.
I took my tray of food and sat down at a table alone. No eye contact. As I found with a lot of the food, it was basically brown slop with mash. I lost about a stone over the month. Food down I walked out into the quad for a smoke. It was slabbed with huge concrete flower pots, so big no-one could ever lift them. They each contained nothing or weeds, the windows were oppressive. Three stories right round, just windows and the sky above.
After dinner, I was sent to get meds. The chlorodiazapoxide I got for the detox knocked me out. I was asleep after fifteen minutes.
Hello reader. I’m going to write a blog about the time I spent in the psychiatric ward last year. I’m not sure why I have decided to write this. Maybe a chance to reflect on where I was and where I am now, maybe because it will be a glimpse into a world not many people get to see
Let’s start at the start. Well, not really the start, but I’ll start where I feel like starting.
I have a problem with depression, alcohol and drugs. The depression started as a teenager, the drugs as a student and the alcohol, probably about ten years ago.
This first blog is probably going to be awful but let’s get it out of the way. So we can move on. If you are depressed I’d like you not to read any more. Thanks for reading but I don’t want to give people ideas or justifications. Not that any of you will pay any attention to that. And neither would I, but let’s call it a ‘salve for my conscience.’
OK? Last year I came up with a plan to kill myself.
I’d tried in 2012, an overdose of trazadone, but to be honest my heart wasn’t in it. I’m not even sure why I tried, when I’m drunk sometimes it seems a good idea and the lack of inhibitions makes it happen. I’d been keeping the stockpile of pills for this eventuality, so it was only a matter of time really. I washed the pills down with beer, sat around for ten minutes then freaked out, tried to vomit – no such luck, then told my wife who drove me to the local hospital. Shortly afterwards I was in an ambulance going to the big hospital. It was terrible, my heart rate was cruising at around, well actually I don’t know, high, they put me on a drip with some sort of sedative to control my heart rate and sent me to observation.
I told the doctors it was a big mistake which by then I was sure it was. OK, not 100%, but enough to believe in it. Also I had my wife with me, she was fairly distraught. Is that an understatement? Yes. I felt so guilty about what I was putting her through. It just felt like a bad dream and it couldn’t be happening, the narrow bed, the wires that wouldn’t let me get comfy and every time I moved alarms went off and nurses came in. I was in for 24 hours then was clear to stagger out holding onto the walls.
Anyway. This blog is not about that attempt, but I mention it to give you an idea of some of my motivation for The Big Plan.
Here’s how the thinking works. I am fucked off with life. I am not a shit. Life is ruled by shits. Have a look at who’s in charge, anywhere you go. Nasty narcissistic scumbags. Not all, certainly there are a few good men/women. But by and large, they are wankers. If you don’t believe this then I’m afraid you too are one of these wankers. So what do I do? Knuckle down, try to be a good guy and make the most of life? Or accept that I am perpetually bored of all matters, and don’t like the way things are going down? Seems an easy choice to me. Death is not scary, it is an absence of fear, of hate. A big fuck you to existence, no easy head-down carrying on. A statement. I’ve had a look at this life business and I think I’d be happier not existing.
Or…yeah…back in the hamster wheel, whether it be getting out of my head or pretending that creativity gives me a raison d’etre, when really it just gives me another knife to stick in myself. Slightly persuading myself here.
The Big Plan had some prerequisites. A fast death. A certain death. A suitable location.
A fast death because I am scared of it. I didn’t want any chance of second thoughts and certainly no period of thinking, “I am past the point of no return, I am going to die and I can’t change it.”
A certain death because I am a coward. I did not ever want to see the consequences of my actions after a failed attempt. The guilt I felt from the overdose made me want to be sure. I would have used a gun if one was easily procured in this country. But no such luck.
A suitable location because although I like to be logical, there is a poetic side of me.
OK. So here’s the plan.
Equipment: Large dose of valium. Mp3 player. Towel.
Location: A section of the railway nearby is blasted out of bedrock. I wanted to die in this wound in the world.
Actions: Take valium. Drive to the parking space near the path I’d seen to the track. Quick over the low gate. MP3 player on full volume through headphones. I’d place the towel on the rail then lie with my head on the towel looking away from the direction of the train. Wait.
I just let a deep breath out. I don’t like visualising that. This is the plan that lead me to be hospitalised. I had been, still am, seeing a support worker – Samantha, who dealt in rehab since I had the suicide attempt. I told her the plan, not thinking that much of it, but to get it off my chest, and she asked me to make a doctor’s appt – think I got an emergency one the next day. This lead to a trip to see a psychiatrist in what I didn’t realise was the psychiatric ward. I was asked about the plan, having to explain it over a few times. I was asked about whether I thought people were following me. No. Thus, I was released, well that and the fact the Samantha had come with me and had said that she didn’t think I should be detained.
A follow-up appointment was planned. After that, I was really ready to implement that plan, I was on for the next bed that came up for a detox. Like some sort of executive club. I arranged with my work that I would be off for two weeks at short notice, made it sound like I needed some sort of operation. Then the phone call came. Two days notice.
That’s the worst part. I assure you there will be less of that sort of stuff in future episodes.
Writing has been taking a back seat lately to music. Here’s the inital results on youtube.
After months of avoiding writing; recording songs, going to art classes, playing computer games, drinking too much etc. I have decided to throw off the covers and get back out of bed. I’ve got a load of ideas buzzing around, and some new techniques I want try.
New poem online at everydaypoets.
My Gameboy Horror Flash read by Matt Cowens.
I’m very happy with the professional job Matt did with the story.
Hope that works. Messy.