It’s not fun in the psych ward. Most days it’s just talking about the same topics and doing the same things. It becomes habitual; the highlight of the day is generally when the food comes around.
Boy, was the food good. Maybe because there were at least five alcoholics and God knows how many drug addicts in the acute ward. They wanted to feed us up.
Imagine going out to eat three times a day; that was what it was like for us. We were lucky. The kitchens that served all the hospitals in the area came from our hub. We got all the good stuff; the freshly cooked tender chicken.
But that was the highlight. After we fed ourselves we would be back to chuffing on 100 cigarettes in the smoke room, or trying to relax in the quiet room. That’s where the non-smokers were.
I didn’t like that room. Too much fresh air. People seemed to have too much sense in that room.
Anyway; outside life gradually filtered away until everything revolved around Psychiatric Hospital. Who said what to whom, who was going to get it in the neck for this or that. You know–typical childish babble.
It completely consumes you. It takes on a different perspective when you’re ill, though. When you’re hallucinating and hearing things, the ward can become your greatest ally or your worst nightmare.
I had both, but I’ll tell you about the time I was running around thinking I was 007 for a few days. I look back and laugh because it was funny; it was funny because the residents played along. Some were cruel, but others just reinforced the weird journey.
I started hearing voices. Now, as a young man who hadn’t experienced anything out of the ordinary in his entire life, this was a bit strange to me. I remember hearing the voice of one of the nurses that I really disliked. I could hear him talking as if caught in general chitchat.
I can remember thinking: Wow…they’ve put something in my ear when I’ve been asleep. Can they hear my thoughts?
I put it to the test. I thought about something weirdly absurd, along the lines of: Nurse X is a wanker and almost instantly that nurse came in to give me a stern talking to.
“Coincidence,” a normal-headed person might think, but I can’t recall what she was angry about. Knowing me, it was probably because I upset someone…again. Yet I took on the belief that they were monitoring my thoughts; they knew what I was thinking.
This is some weird, high-tech, proper governmental stuff! (Can you tell I had previously read a ton of spy thrillers? lol) I remember pretending to fall asleep and when no-one was watching I dug my finger right into my ear and pulled out a massive clump of what looked like a really strange techie gadget that blended in as ear wax. It was a strange tool.
It was a big clump of orange wax that had several tentacles on it. Immediately I assumed these were the antennae used to connect to my brain. I couldn’t tell that this was obviously a yucky clump of mangy ear wax and that I hadn’t had a shower in a few weeks. Normal thoughts whizzed out the window.
I was unwell. But I was unwilling to accept that. The psychosis continued.
Shit, what have I stumbled upon? I’m in an institution where they test out new-fangled technology! And now that I know about it they’re going to put two in my head and dump my body somewhere.
I believed I was highly intelligent back then. More intelligent than most. It was a failing of mine; a superiority complex. Let’s call it the Dunning-Kruger effect.
When I was in psychosis all my worst traits were magnified by a thousand. I began to think I was the reincarnation of James Bond. Super-agent-spy. Obviously, my superiority complex had asserted itself, so now I was more intelligent, more handsome and more persuasive than any other person in the world. I felt literally superhuman.
How the hell was I going to get out of this situation? I could see a complex problem in front of me, one that will need a long term solution. But it wasn’t escape.
Escape would be too easy. I wanted to bring them all down to their knees. Every last human-testing one of them.
I started off by writing a letter to the Prime Minister; we had Tony Blair at the time. I had always admired Tony Blair, and like anyone who took no interest in politics thought the leader was the one that could fix things. Yet I found it difficult to write.
If you’ve ever been in psychosis before you’ll know that reading and writing is hard. Hell, sitting down for more than two seconds is extremely challenging. It comes with the completely disorganised and disruptive thinking.
It’s hard. But I tried. And failed.
Obviously they were onto me. The people at the ward were buzzing my brain so that it would be impossible for me to write a letter in any shape or form. I remember giving up, throwing my arms into the air and walking into the smoke room to light up.
I think some of the people had a good old laugh at my expense. I remember them asking, “What’s the plan, Raymond?” as if to egg me on with my delusions. People are in there for all different reasons.
Some people…well, some are just raised without any morals and that’s a fact. I personally always felt sorry for the poor people when I saw them going through a tough time. But that’s just me.
I remember sparking up a cigarette and sitting there like I was god’s gift to women. Legs wide apart, relaxed and all confident-like. And then it hit me like a lead balloon.
Jesus. This isn’t what I think it is. I have it all wrong.
You see, I’d spent two weeks in a psych ward in England before ending up in this place in Scotland. It was THEM. It was the English who put it in my head and forgot to take it out.
BAM. Now this shitty place is using it to their advantage. They’ve found it, now they want to test it out on me and see what it does, have me do sexual favours and the likes, ew.
I couldn’t see that from the outside I really was just this skinny white dude, with little current life prospects that hadn’t had a wash for at least two weeks. No, to me I was god’s gift to everything. And they were going to use that to their advantage.
So I worked up a plan. I was going to get myself back down to England. I was going to write a cleverly constructed letter to the English hospital and have them send for me. Wallah! Done.
And I did manage to do it. Somehow. With lots of effort. I managed to write a carefully worded letter to St Clements Hospital in Ipswich informing them that the Rothes Ward had located my brain thingy and were using it to their advantage.
Yet to the onlooker it would seem like a normally written letter about a hospital transfer. And just to be sure I got mum to fax the same letter to the hospital from her work. And one to dad, too.
I had kicked the ass out of everything. I had won. These stupid hospitals didn’t have a patch on me.
I was the king of EVERYTHING. EVERYTHING, I tell ya!
Until one of the nurses opened up my letter and called me out on it. Later that day we had another argument, I ended up spitting in his face and they sent me up to the IPCU (Intensive Psychiatric Care Unit) ward. Which is the Psychiatric Care equivalent of prison.
I couldn’t see the state that I was in. I look back and see a humongous slide from reality about the time that I picked up the clump of earwax. And all it took was to hear a few voices in my head.
My deepest fears were made my reality. This brought them to the forefront of my mind and ultimately forced me to deal with them. This was helpful for me, but I couldn’t see that then. I was too distracted by life in a “care” facility that was more like a prison.
My biggest fear was people getting to know the real me. On the outside I projected this big, brave and fearless nice person that does no wrong and has high intelligence, but when you strip the bravado away you’re left with a small, scared little boy wanting a hug from his Dad and Mum and who hasn’t experienced much of the world. That is what this experience did for me. It stripped that shit away and left me in my rawest form; a naïve, scared, needy child.
How did I face my fears? I stood there and took it. I had to. There was nowhere to run; I doubt I’d have faced them otherwise.
If there’s one thing that I can take away from this entire scenario is that humans are more resilient than we think; I was far more resilient than my family had ever given me credit for. There were times that I wanted to just give up, and yes, the 007 days were euphoric, but what goes up must come down, and with great highs come devastating lows, lows that had me thinking I was better suited in a cell with four walls and no windows locked away from the world…I just wanted to be left alone.
I survived though. I had re-emerged from the fiery pits of hell, I had become a new man; a new birth, a learned survivor from the twisted dark shadows of his soul that threatened to pull him down but had survived to tell his tale.
And I know you’re out there, survivor, I see you.
If you can cling onto one thought as you go through the painstakingly difficult task of surviving, remember: I did it, a no-one from nowhere. A person who’s family had marked him as a no-hoper, a person the doctors had struck off as a dead-in-the-gutter-man, a person some “friends” would laugh about…my impending doom. If I can do it,
You can too.
Think I have game? :)
Check out some of my previous posts!!
A second, and more in depth Introduction
I want people to like me. Do you?
Support is necessary in a loving relationship
I'm human and I think you are too. Fuck labels. I'm tired of them.
A message for the survivor amongst us (If you're listening)
My vulnerability exposed
Sometimes I feel like a fraudster
How my autism affects being a Dad
So you're going to be a Dad?
I am aware of my privilege but I don't understand it
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