I am the one in 4. That is the statistic (currently) for those who will experience a mental health crisis at some point during their life time.
I am in a place of safety & being well looked after by caring, compassionate & dedicated staff; & let’s not forget my fellow ‘inmates’ as I affectionately think of us.
It is a strange twilight sort of existence. By day 2 in “The Big Bother House” I railed at the staff: “I don’t know what’s expected of me! I don’t know what you NEED me to do!!” They smiled kindly & sympathetically, patently having been asked the same question many times over & their answer was ‘we expect nothing.” And that’s just it; there aren’t prizes for perfection, goals here are very different & to utterly bastardise a well known phrase to fit my purpose: one small step for man is one great leap for mankind…or something.
Just being in the moment is enough. An achievement might be as simple as eating a communal meal or a walk in the garden.
Get yourself showered in the morning or don’t, get dressed or stay in your pj’s. Eat toast or biscuits, do something involving exercise, (horrific!) attend group therapy or make a gazillion things out of cards/paper/sparkles (but don’t expect to keep custody of the scissors). No one judges.
The lack of hooks for towels, hangers, door handles anything with sharp edges & 15 minute observations that the staff try to carry out as an unobtrusively as possible are noticeable but not bothersome. I’m slightly less keen on having to request my razor from its storage box in the staff room every other day to avoid my yeti impression but it’s not a deal breaker (yet).
Every day life carries on distantly around me. I’m peripherally aware of meetings, emails, phone calls & my loved ones holding the fort for which I’m unspeakably grateful but in a very laissez faire manner. That might be the drugs talking…. I have some very good ones on board that leave me alternatively slightly floaty or very zen. There’s stuff to help you sleep, stuff to chill you out, stuff to lift the mood or in the case of some fellow inmates stuff to bring them the f*ck back down to earth… I’m in here with a former governor of the Bank of England, someone married to a Hollywood producer & someone whose met the Dalia Lama. Is it true? I have no idea; nor frankly do I care.
Of course it’s not all drugs, there are therapies, both group & 1:1, relaxation groups, challenge sessions & even a weekly massage. There’s a local indoor heated pool at a nearby hotel & a gym for those so inclined. A particularly good friend whose known me for umpteen years & then some joked I’ll do anything to get a spa weekend….
We are all here fighting our various personal demons and wrestling our consciousness. Sometimes I feel like Sisyphus & the stone on my back & the drop down that hill is a long way to fall, crushed under rolling rock.
My feet of clay, the toppling off my pedestal lies firmly at the hands of the various ‘support’ services who essentially told me to suck it up butter cup & jolly well keep coping, despite my desperate pleas that I was failing due to exhaustion and fatigue. I’m not going into that further because legally there are many issues that need to be addressed.
Although I still feel shaken to my very core, weak, feeble & ashamed of my self indulgence, I am lifted by my fellow warriors, sharing their biscuits, proffering cups of tea & joining me (the crazy lady in the corner snuggled in my dressing gown) doing endless jigsaws.
Just don’t take away my coffee machine or then I might really go batsh*t crazy….