I use the first part of the headline of this blog entry with a pinch of salt, it was never described to me as ‘parole‘, but that’s kinda what it felt like. The second part (The real ones) is no understatement. I truly found out after coming home from the Psyciatric Hospital who my true friends are.
I was released from hospital only after my family had been contacted and a care system was put into place. The rules were thus: Under no circumstances was I to be left alone in any environment until my next assessment. I could not leave the house for 14 days. I could not operate a vehicle, drink any alcohol and was not allowed access to a full packet of the prescribed meds due to any urges of intentional overdose. The medication I was transitioned on to was Sertraline, an anti-depressant (hailed as a miracle drug here in the UK) and Pericyazine – an anti-psycotic. I was quickly transitioned up to 100mg of Sertraline per day (the maximum amount prescribable per day is 200mg) and 2.5mg of Pericyazine. Pericyazine is a scary drug, I was told I could potentially hallucinate for short periods of time – if you’ve ever heard a song called ‘Yikes‘ by Kanye West, that song is written about the American equivalent. 30 minutes after I took my first tablet, my pupils dilated into two massive black holes. For me, it was another ‘look at what my life has come to‘ moment.
Sertraline numbed me and made me lazy, spaced out and a permanent state of trance. I’m not a people person at the best of times, but this made me irritable and despise any kind of human company, including my own. I was informed that this was perfectly normal and another reason why I could not be left unattended for two weeks, until my body really had a chance to balance out with the injection of an anti-depressant into my system. My thoughts of suicide were more prevalent. I remember I would pace up and down for hours like a caged animal, my legs were restless whilst a constant war was waging in my head. I could take as much Pericyazine as required. The staff at the hospital said it would ‘take the edge off‘ any irritibality, and at first it spaced me out and made me feel more angry, and then it made me drowzy until it eventually stopped my legs from shaking. A member of my support team referred to it as a ‘human tranquilizer‘. Lovely.
Whilst I was a prisoner in my own home I was subject to numerous phone calls and home visits from hospital staff and support networks. Initially, I was referred to ‘Wellbeing‘ – a mental health support team in the UK, though two days after my release from hospital, they wrote to me saying they only deal with patients with (and I quote): ‘mild to moderate mental health issues‘, whilst they viewed mine as ‘serious and prolonged‘…another WTF moment. Therefore, I was sent to the Adult Community Mental Health Organisation – who didn’t view me as too fucked beyond repair. It felt like I had to have the same conversation about my life story with ten different people. Opening up to my therapist initially (when I was paying for the privilege) was hard enough, but sharing stuff my parents weren’t even aware of with people who I was ‘assigned to‘ was pretty soul destroying; I felt detached from the whole process. Without going into the causes at this stage, my diagnosis was: ‘agitated depression with borderline bipolar disorder, bought on by complex post traumatic stress disorder.’ In a way, it was a relief for me, to know what I had, and not question everything all the time. I didn’t recognise this as a positive at first, but I should have done.
I am not the kind of person who plasters all of my issues over social media in order to gain attention – even my writing of this blog is anonymous. I have always thought of asking for help as a sign of weakness and I suppose through the adversity I have faced at times in my life, it was important for me to uphold and indestructible image (not too be confused with macho I might add). Very few people were aware of what I had been through over the course of the last year, mainly only those it was impossible to hide it from. This was a time in my life I needed the help of those closest to me, and as I’d gotten beyond the point of all caring, I used this as some kind of social experiment. I made who I thought were my closest friends aware, told them where I’d been and what I’m going through and then left the ball in their court over the next few weeks.
The results both upset and relieved me simultaneously. Those who I thought were sure to be there, I heard nothing from. Not even a whatsapp. Those I never expected to hear from spoke with me for hours day after day. A guy I know now is my best friend, Dan, messaged me every morning without fail just asking me how I’m feeling and what he’s been up to – almost like a conversation with himself. But it made a huge difference. Another friend, by the name of Max whom I was inseparable with from the age of 12, I never heard from for over 9 months. Of course I live in the real world and I understand people are busy, but that really broke my heart to know that somebody you thought could be your something to lean on…isn’t and won’t be. It allowed me to fully filter out a lot of things in my life, which I now understand was a big, subliminal part of my recovery process. I could see very clearly who would be there for me during the best and worst times in my life, and those who would simply stand next to me in the best. My message to anybody reading this would be: send that message now. Not tomorrow or next week. Let somebody know how highly you think of them. If you know somebody is hurting, be that shoulder to cry on because you never know the difference it can make that person’s day, week, or even life. Understand the people you surround yourself with, and realise if they are there for the right reasons. We are all busy, but you have probably spent two hours of your day so far scrolling through instagram. Take two minutes out of it and speak to somebody you hold close and let them know that, whilst we are all busy, you will always have the time for them. Be the very thing you would like to receive.
Over and out.