For a few days now, I’ve been ‘existing’ in a sort of limbo state. I’m not at all happy… I’m not even neutral. I’ve still ben feeling very down but I’ve not been distraught. The days, despite being very inactive, are draining. This is as much to do with the bright artificial lights, the constant noise of the ward and the perpetual flurry of activity as it is my mental state.
It all becomes a little overwhelming. Luckily, I have a private room I can retreat to when needed and this provides some solace, even if it’s a little lonely in there.
I almost didn’t leave my room this morning. I felt weaker and less able than before and I must have spent about three hours just laying and staring across the room at the door. Occasionally, a shadowy figure would appear at the window; the routine half-hourly check to see that everyone is still accounted for and not attempting anything they shouldn’t.
After a while, some building work started on the room next to mine and this was enough incentive to get up, freshen up, get dressed and head out to the communal area. Within moments of sitting down, the crazy who thinks he’s my lawyer occupied the seat next to mine and reassured me about my human rights and that today’s the day I’ll be going home.
When I tried to explain to him, in such a way that should make sense in the paranoid and frightening world he lives in, that I want to be here because I’m broke and I need the help of the hospital to fix me, he recoiled a bit and started saying that the black-chips in our heads had made me susceptible to ‘their’ mind control and that I was being coerced into Stockholm Syndrome.
It was around that point that Henry, one of the peer support workers here – a thoroughly decent all-round chap – rocked up to ask if anyone wanted to attend a group about recognising positivity in oneself and how to use that to create a path forwards.
It sounded like something I needed and so I immediately volunteered. Sadly, nobody else did. I see great benefit in group topics like these because they could be a really helpful thing and could be very supportive and encouraging. But the uptake is too low simply because most of the patients have problems so severe, that this kind of engagement means nothing to them.
They’re either so far gone they can’t possibly understand, or they live in a world where they are normal and everyone else is working against them. If they don’t think they need the help, they’re not going to go looking for it.
I see an awful lot of day-to-day life here of patients just getting by however they can. Listening to music, slumped on a sofa vaping, pacing the corridors… But I see very little actual engagement where people are being ‘properly’ helped. This seems a little more like a storage tank rather than a treatment centre.
After the group, I sat back down in the communal space and then something unexpected happened; I began to cry. There has been a bit of a drought for the last few days but I could still feel the emotions bubbling away within me. It finally found a way out.
This may have been exacerbated by the group session and having to admit that I’m so incredibly cruel to myself. But it’s more likely the realisation that today is now eleven years since I last spoke to my father.
That hit me hard. If there’s anything that I feel particularly shameful and guilty about, it’s that last conversation with Dad. I know that no matter what I had done that day would have changed the eventual outcome, but it’s knowing that I wasted those last six months of his life pretending he wasn’t there that hurts the most.
And that was enough to finally break the dry spell. I wept. And in an unfortunate bit of timing, a few minutes later, one of the other patients kicked off about something, had an outburst and sent me shrivelling into small, frightened ball, shaking and crying with my hands clamped over my ears.
I was guided carefully back to my room for a little alone-time to calm down again. This afternoon, I regretfully had to decline the offer to get some time in the gym because I’m still feeling so weak and drained. Not to mention light-headed and nauseous.
I can only assume that the anti-depressant I recently started is slowly bedding in and that the side-effects are preceding the positive ones by some considerable margin. Whilst this is to be expected, I had hoped it wouldn’t be quite so extreme nor quite so quick to bite.
Regardless of feeling grotty and miserable, I chose to sit in the communal area after lunch, if only to not feel isolated and alone. But then my ‘lawyer’ shows up, and in his flat little voice, assures me that the judge will not be able to put me under a section and will have no choice but to grant my immediate release, especially since I was brought here against my will.
He then turned to Henry and another one of the assistants and started bleating about how they’re not as nice as they pretend to be, that hey hex the food and that they’re the overlords of this place in disguise so they can walk amongst us unnoticed, but thanks to his mind control techniques, he can sense their real thoughts and has uncovered their plot to hide two dead bodies, which will be blown wide open once they realise that it was Aaliyah’s fingerprints that were found on his laptop.
That was enough for me. I’m weak, tired, emotional, unstable, anxious and depressed… I don’t need that shit going on next to me. So, here I am, back in the lonely silence of my room and contemplating existence again.
Today has been an overload in just about every way possible. And at the time of writing this, I’m barely halfway through the day. It stuns me to think that I just a few hours from now, I’ll have been on this ward for a week. In a way, it’s flown by, possibly because what day of the week it is simply doesn’t matter in here. On the flip side of that, this has been a hard week, a long, arduous struggle to survive in an extreme environment that no person should ever have to experience.
That said, it was still the right call to come here. Had I carried on the way I was, self-destruction would surely have happened by now. But I’m still here, I’m still going, and I’m still stumbling along looking for signposts to lead me out of this.
People keep telling me I can do it. People keep telling me it’s possible. They can’t all be wrong, can they?
But in a world where a man like Donald Trump can be the US President, can anything really be taken seriously anymore? It’s just proof that sometimes, an awful lot of people and be very wrong about something all at the same time.
I’ve had some encouraging talks with my mortgage provider who have been very understanding so far and have agreed to work with me given the difficult nature of my situation. The next step is to see what other options I have with regards to my work situation or if I need some assistance from elsewhere.
Given the state I’m in right now, I’m not sure how effective I can be at anything. I still have no ability to concentrate on anything for more than a couple of minutes at a time and my thoughts are so intrusive that they direct me off on a tangent and before I know it, I’ve been sat motionless for a couple of minutes and I snap back to reality a little disorientated.
Someone once suggested that it might be something called maladaptive daydreaming’; a sort of trance like state that totally takes over and creates an alternate reality within the mind. I don’t know if that applies or not here.
I’ve always had a vivid imagination… Always. As long as I can remember, I’ve been able to lose myself into other worlds, flying through space, soaring amongst the clouds, or whatever. My mind takes me to some amazing places. It also takes me to some very dark places; distressing and disturbing thoughts and images that sometimes disgust me.
But I always snap back to the here and now with a bit of a start and carry on with what I was doing. Sometimes, I’ll come out of my own accord, but often, it’ll be a noise or someone speaking that pulls me back to reality.
I don’t have any reference for whether this counts as maladaptive daydreaming or if it’s just ordinary, regular, daydreaming. I don’t know what it’s like for other people. All I know is that it is prohibitively interruptive and normally occurs during repetitive or mundane tasks or when there is little else happening around me.
Perhaps this is why I fill my leisure time with brain intensive things like complicated video games and simulators, building Lego and writing… They all require a dynamic approach and require me to stay sharp and focussed throughout.
Right now, I’m neither sharp, nor focussed. I’m a vague and blurry mess and the meds are distorting that further in the short-term. Hopefully with a little more time, they’ll start to turn things around and I’ll be able to see and think a little more clearly.
And once I get to that point, the sense of feeling overloaded and overwhelmed by things will hopefully begin to diminish and I can try and function like a proper person again.
Just need to be sure that the evil overlords haven’t had a chance to implant me with black-chips, or put MDMA on the rim of all the water jugs…