I thought you were going to look after me. I thought I was meant to be safe here and fed and cared for and allowed to rest. Stop coming in here trying to give me medication like I'm in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. I mean, do you really have to bring in drugs on those cardboard trays and put them in those little white cups? I'm an informal patient, that means I don't have to take anything I don't want to, right? Right? Am I RIGHT? Stop bringing in doctors and medicine and instructions, I can't think straight. I won't take anything until I understand what it will do to me and to my baby and I can't think straight until I have had some sleep. Is the problem that you think I can't sleep without them? I can. I can sleep on my own, naturally. Just give me some space and let me show you. I birthed my son without any drugs, so if you just let me use my relaxation techniques I can show you. I'll show you now.
I showed them alright. I showed them that I could sleep for a whole 8 minutes without medical intervention. That was how in charge of this illness I was. It was a few hours after this that I was put on a section 5(2) which means I was being sectioned for 72 hours. I was no longer in a position to make my own decisions. I was a danger to myself.
I was shocked at how quickly the "Hackney Holiday Home" became a horror home, but before that transformation begun I had momentary respite. It was the deepest peace I have ever felt. When I first arrived I was given an hour or two alone in my room with my husband and my son. Once again I made sure they were both comfortable and sleeping and took several photos to document that my boys were doing well, and then frantically reached out to the real world. I sent messages to my loved ones like a thing possessed, desperately wanting to leave a trail; messages that could trace people back to this moment where I was still alive: where "I" still existed. I sent out messages to the only people in the world that knew what was happening:
"I am safe. We are in our room at the "Hackney Holiday Home" I don't know where that is exactly, because...well...as you can imagine, I've had a pretty tough week (to put it mildly). There is lots of lovely rest and recovery going on here. My boys are both sleeping. I want you all to know that I love you & I need each & every one of you that knows. There are 10 of us in the world, apart from all the incredible NHS staff, that helped me walk through hell to freedom"
There was a tranquility, a peace, and a clarity that I experienced in the silence of those couple of hours. I remember sitting on the big red chair in my room, feeling like Alice after she'd swallowed a "drink me" bottle. I felt so small and yet so safe. I had made it here. It had taken almost everything I had, but I'd done it. My heart swelled with a powerful understanding of what it was to be alive; to be a woman, a wife, a mother.
Not only was I those, I was my husband, I was my son, I was all of creation. I was everything and nothing. I felt utterly insignificant and truly vital simultaneously. My identity had been shaken so deeply that I didn't know what "I" even meant. Was it me doing and saying these ridiculous and profound things? What was "me"? I couldn't take anything for granted any more. It was a moment to moment existence. I was surviving. Just.
It's easy to have the illusion at this point that I was a woman capable of understanding and communication. The reality was that I had, by this stage, virtually lost my ability to speak; my throat was scratched red raw, my speech was so pressured and full of Tourette's that getting through a sentence was agony. I had developed an intricate sign language in the vain attempt to keep myself calm, to reduce the terrifying stress and physical exhaustion my spasms would induce. These spasms would surge through my body if anyone said the wrong thing, and by this stage people only knew what the "wrong" thing was after it was said.
After my sacred couple of hours left to myself in my room, two doctors came in to talk to me and assess my situation. Needless to say my "situation" was painfully clear, as 15 minutes later I was chasing them out of my room screaming at them to leave me alone. As I charged out of my room, running after these doctors four or five nurses all leapt in on me. I was being restrained.
I was a mad woman.
I knew from this moment that there were very real consequences to my actions. I was involved in a very very serious business. All I felt was that no-one was listening to me. That feeling of being restrained is one that shocked me to my core. This was me. I didn't do things like this. But I did. I was. I was doing them. This is me. This is my reality. I am the me I'd never met. The me I didn't expect to ever meet.
Things went downhill. Fast. I almost can't bring myself to share what it was like to go through that next 72 hours. I did things that I'm ashamed of. No matter how many times people tell me that it was the illness and not me, I can't and may never accept that. I know it on an intellectual level, but it is very complex to disentangle yourself from your behaviours in psychosis because they come through you, and you are used as the messenger for its powerful and twisted message. One nurse said to me, "Think about whether you want to do that, think about when you have recovered." That was the most helpful and hardest thing I heard in those turbulent hours. It knifed me to know that I was ill, dangerously ill, but it soothed my soul to hear that word...recovery. It echoed around the vacant corners of my sanity and rested deep in my heart. I was ill. I would get better. I would recover.
But this was just day one.
Love and Fuck off Tourettes,
Mutha Courage x