In the past few months I have not been well… you may have noticed. Months of sporadic time off work, not being able to go to SES and concerts and missing lots of things I care about (like OCCMelb), and sometimes not having the capacity to feed myself, be left alone for long period of time, or even leave the house at all. On top of this, there has been years of psychiatrists who don’t listen, are too far away, and refuse to see me for months on end if I want to be bulk billed… Dad suggested that I try to get into the New Farm Clinic to get sorted out (because this is where the footballers go so they must get results! Sound logic!). So here I am. Absolutely terrified for days worrying about what it would be like, and now I am here and it’s only day one.
From the attire of those I first saw on my admission to the clinic, my days of pedantic worry in regards to not bringing formal enough casual clothes were completely unfounded. Sitting the required 5m away from the entry to the building was a small group of pyjama clad, ugg boot wearing, skinny, smoking teenagers. Although I knew I probably had zero in common with any of them (other than now being admitted to a mental clinic) I did felt a little less self-conscious (knowing that jeans would be ok!).
An overly manicured, young, blonde woman completed my admission details with the same tone and vigour as my boss… who doesn’t really care about people who have mental illness except for the fact that it is a part of her job she just has to deal with. Which is fine. You don’t get it unless you live it. That’s fine. I had Paul to cry on/holding my hand. She did mention that the website had changed with the visiting hours (to my horror) and then said that no, no, they had relaxed the rules and I can have visitors pretty much whenever in the daytime/evening (sigh on relief).
A lovely unit manager came and collected us and brought us up to what will be my residence (for god knows how long) in which I at least have my own small bedroom and ensuite to hide away in. After Paul left and my initial assessment was completed with the nurse (are you ok, what are you doing here, do you hurt yourself, are you going to kill yourself etc etc.), I had my first real break down since being here, being left on my own. I set to making the room feel less like a hospital space and more like I lived there (failed) by putting a Harry Potter scarf on the end of the bed, putting my clothes away, and spraying perfume about the place. So it just smelled like a Priceline that a messy teenager inhabited. Great fail. Luckily it wasn’t much longer before my new psychiatrist showed up and we sorted out some of what I will need to do. We have a solid plan. She is super lovely.
Turns out I am one of the lucky few, being not suicidal or having suicidal thoughts (at the moment). Just a medication change. Off one and on to another so that my moods can stabilise and I will be able to feel like I am a (mostly) normal human bean again. That will be nice. But today is the first day. And I don’t know for how may days I will be here. I don’t know what my side effects will be or if they will be severe from either commencement of new drugs or the withdrawal from another. I don’t know and neither do the staff.
My first interaction with another patient was the girl across the hall. I had read on the hospital website that you have to pay for the tv that was in my room. So I wheeled mine out into the hall. I have my Netflix. She was sitting on her bright pink bedspread in bring pink, fluffy pjs, her name was Amanda too (of course it was). She said it must be my first time here and not be afraid (I was crying at being spoken to by this nice – but obviously sicker than me – pink unicorn) but I could keep the tv, everyone has one these days (they really need to update that website!). She said not to do anything stupid or they would take all your stuff away, that they had taken all her stuff, and they were checking on her every 15 minutes. I was only getting checked on ever 30 minutes as a Category 3, but am now a Category 1 after assessment – every 2 hour checks. I feel pretty lucky because it means I can go out and go for walks by the river which will be really nice.
Dinner was sad. I didn’t want to go. I hate going alone to new places, let alone a mental hospital cafeteria. But after a few tears I finally dragged my starving butt down there and the food was really lovely (veggie risotto with extra veggies and fruit pudding!). I felt really bad though because I was scoffing it all down because I hadn’t eaten since lunch and I looked up from watching my iPad to see a big group of eating disorder patients. Some had feeding tubes. If you haven’t already, you should watch the Keanu Reeves movie ‘To The Bone’ on Netflix. But regime of support here seems really positive, as it does for me with the group sessions that I will start tomorrow.
My room overlooks a ice courtyard where I might go to read tomorrow. The person on the other side of the wall has a time set every hour and sometimes it just keeps going for flipping ages. I really hope that stops once everyone goes to bed. I wonder what its for. I recognised a woman who comes into the library from time to time, she is a beautiful old lady who reminds me of my late Nana. I don’t think she recognised me but that’s probably for the best. The nice nurse said to be friendly but not friends with the people here is for the best. That I just needed to stabilise and stay away from stressful things. My light keeps flickering. I’m going to bed. I hope it isn’t like last time I was in hospital and I woke up to someone down the hall murderously screaming. I was also told that people try to smoke in the building semi-regularly so be ready to be evacuated. Sigh.
Just keep telling myself that this is for the best. That I will be back at work soon, back doing all the things I care about. I might keep writing because I have nothing really better to do. So if you have questions about what it is like being in a mental hospital/clinic, or if you want to come and go for a walk with me then let me know. I will be here x