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Things That Don't Add Up

After yesterday's righteous feminist rage, today I felt like I should be having a wee break. But also, HA! This is me we are talking about - and I'm not exactly known for letting go of something that's bothering me until I'm absolutely sure I understand it...

However I will try to make it short (ish), I just want to capture the gist of several unanswered questions that have been niggling at me since I left hospital last week.

There are a lot of things that don't add up.

Why were they insisting that I take meds? The first text message I sent Angus the day after I was admitted (Day 1) included this:

"I saw a Consultant this morning who is happy with how I’m doing. She has prescribed me some anti anxiety and sleeping tablets, but we have agreed that I can decide for myself whether I take them. It feels important to me to use what I know works for me - the breathing etc, rather than getting into drugs again. They are there for emergencies and I trust myself to use them if I need them - same as at home."

By the morning of Day 3 I had gone downhill dramatically. I was horribly confused and texted Angus again:

"How long have I been here [now]? The drugs aren’t [helping] / making me worse. Can you come for me please? X"

Why, when I remember obediently taking medication whenever it was offered throughout my stay until the last weekend, did the doctors tell Angus that I was refusing it? I mean, I do have blank spaces in my memory, so I guess I could have blocked out some refusals while I was at my lowest ebb, but what on earth happened between Days 1 and 3 that transformed me from a rational, albeit anxious and sleep-deprived woman agreeing a care plan with a reasonably supportive doctor, to drugged-up, paranoid and asking to be rescued?

Why did they tell me they were giving me "something for anxiety" (temazepam was mentioned at one point) and "something to help me sleep" but telling Angus on the phone that they were trying to persuade me to take Olanzipine, which is an anti-psychotic drug? I don't remember anybody mentioning Olanzipine to me at all - and I would have remembered it because it's what I was prescribed the last time I was in hospital. I came off it after 2 or 3 months because it made me feel terrible - sludgy, slow, drugged up to the eyeballs - not myself.

Then there were practical things that I found confusing. What happened to my nocturnal contact lenses, which disappeared without a trace shortly after I was admitted, leaving me short-sighted and disorientated? The lenses themselves were in a normal barrel-shaped container, and they vanished along with a bottle of cleaning fluid, a tray of tablets that activate the cleaning fluid, and the eye drops I use to make the lenses feel comfortable in my eyes overnight.

What happened to the food parcel my friend Morag dropped off for me the day after I was admitted? Angus texted to let me know it was on its way, and again later to check I had received it, but it never arrived.

Then there was the journal thing. I write a gratitude journal every night before I go to sleep, and I took it into the hospital with me where it became an observational record that I used to keep track of my experiences and feelings, and help me stay in touch with what was "real" around me. The staff told Angus on the phone that there would be pages missing from the journal because I had been asked to tear them out as I had been writing things down about the other patients. When I checked it there was only one page missing; I remember tearing it out to write a shopping list for one of the other patients who had permission to go to the shops (she very kindly bought me an avocado, which I thoroughly enjoyed after a week of hospital stodge). There are still observations about the other patients written in my journal.

These things are all small and can probably be easily explained by the chaos of a dysfunctional and disorganised system, but when you're locked away - isolated, terrified and confused - these small mishaps and inconsistencies can easily begin to feel like evidence of something more sinister at work.

Perhaps I'm just still feeling a bit paranoid. At least the evidence at hand suggests that's the case, and I have to accept that it's a strong possibility given recent events - despite the fact that I feel as rational, lucid and evidence-based today as I have at any point in the last 40 or so years, the vast majority of which I have managed to spent NOT delusional in hospital...

I just keep thinking of that other patient who came to see me on the morning of my last day in hospital; she was a busy type and constantly running to answer the payphone on the ward, which - I'm not kidding - seemed to ring every half hour or more. People actually shouted for her whenever it rang; I remember thinking "why is it [her name]'s job to answer the phone all day?"

Before the chaos of the day started, she came into my room (against the rules klaxon - naughty girls). She shared that the doctor I was to negotiate my discharge with later that morning, had kept her in there for seven weeks.

Seven weeks!

My exit interview was tricky to say the least, the doctor in question seemed to think I was still extremely unwell (based on my having been detained under the mental health act for asking to go home two days earlier, my behaviour around Days 3 and 4 of my stay, and bralettegate obvs), and told me I was probably bipolar.

I know I was completely out of control when I was at my worst in there, but you can see from my text messages and my journal that it was an upside down bell curve - I was well enough to keep my shit together when I went in, went dramatically downhill after admission, and was more or less back to myself by Day 5. Going to hospital makes me crazy. I got better despite being in there, not because of it.

This woman spread out screeds of handwritten notes on the bed in front of me and asked for my help, because she was being kept in there by doctors who didn't understand her and she thought I seemed like "someone they might believe".

She seemed sad, lonely, calm and perfectly rational.

I believed her.




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