The day I ran away...

Sunday, 15 June 2014

As promised, here is an update of what has been going on in the strange old life that I inhabit. So, as many of you will know, I am no longer an inpatient at Vincent Square. I am also no longer under section. In fact, I am an outpatient, back home, and the closest to happy I can remember being. It’s how this all came about that is the interesting part to my tale. I suppose I better start where I last left off. I’d like to apologise in advance for a rather ‘to the point’ account of this particular event, it’s quite long winded, but I wanted to get the facts down so I can finally write again as I enjoy, without causing too much confusion with any odd references. Also, please bare in mind it is about 1:30am and I am on a flight back from Ibiza!

I was at Vincent Square and pretty goddamn miserable. I was struggling massively and the most exhausted I can remember ever having been due to relentless upset and the ridiculous regime I was putting my body through with the exercise. Then I had a ward round and to me, it seemed as though it was pretty hopeless. The word ‘chronic’ was used and although everyone agreed things were not working, there was no plan of how to try and help me make them work, just that I needed to change my behavior’s. Obviously, I was aware of this, just as you are aware that you ‘should’ get up now, you ‘should’ get a better job, you ‘should’ do your homework. To me, however, it felt like every time I got up, I fell. Every time I went for a job interview, I failed and every sum and question in my homework was unanswerable. I don’t really know how else to explain it, but I honestly didn’t feel I could do anymore. I was so incredibly angry I cannot describe. I was angry that it felt like no one was listening to me. I was angry I was under section and I felt as if I was being held prisoner, tortured, but failing to have my jail time cut at all and that I was being wholly blamed. I pointed out that I was there for help to get better and if I could just stop my behaviour’s, well, I’d be at home. This did not seem to be the right thing to say and it felt horribly like being called to the headteacher’s office with all your teacher’s around the table telling you basically you’re dumb, failing every subject and not making progress. Even when you asked for extra tuition, more help, you were told that nothing more could be done. I left feeling like a piece of shit. As you can imagine, I’m quite sure, feeling, once again, like a failure, was not at all conducive to recovery or even determination in my case. Slowly but surely I could feel all sense of hope and vigor ebbing out of every single pore of my body. I felt disconnected from me, as if I were watching all of these horrible things being done to another. I was despondent, yet livid. Constantly arguing with the staff and regime. I felt like a nuisance all the time, as if I was in the way, as if all of the senior management hated me, I was too much to handle, I was worried they thought I was the gobby posh girl. The nurses, on the actual ward all the time, seemed to have much more of a grasp of me, but I was convinced that the powers that were all loathed me. This, for me, was a bloody nightmare. And it was with all this in mind and my head in absolute turmoil that I did the most spontaneous and certifiably insane (baring in mind I actually was certified nuts at this point, that is saying something) thing I have ever done. I booked a flight, secretly, to Barcelona the next day. I had 3.5 hours leave for a dentist appointment. I packed a small bag, wrote a letter for my fellow patients, telling them not to worry and I would contact them upon arrival at my destination, and prepared myself for the event. I was absolutely terrified. The prospect of doing something quite so against the rules, about the reactions of all those I love and care for, hell, the reactions of all those people who I don’t like, the prospect of all the trouble I was going to cause, the idea of my parents being angry. The police being called. All of that, but my desperation over came that all. I knew that I had to get out of the country. Within the UK, the police would find me and just bring me straight back, potentially in handcuffs. I’d seen this happen to others before and I have to say that the prospect of being dragged back to a mental hospital in handcuffs and a police van was just too much for my pride to handle. I wanted time, on ground where I was not bound by law to do anything, not trapped by the dictation of those whom I did not trust. I also knew I didn’t want to go anywhere too cold (so Paris was out of the equation) and that I needed as short-er flight time as possible. By my calculations, no one would be any the wiser for the time it would take me to get to the airport, check in, get on my plane, even take off. It would be around this time that my 3.5 hours leave would be over and alarm bells would start ringing. In order to limit the stress on all those wondering where the hell I was, I wanted to limit the time I was out of contact. I also factored in that I needed to be somewhere I could make sure I had access to things I could eat, I speak a bit of Spanish (we are talking GCSE level, however, I have found that key phrases such as ‘skinny milk’ and ‘without sugar’ have tattooed onto my mind over the past few years.) For this reason, I booked accommodation with a kitchenette in a city I knew there would be familiar food and shops and I could communicate to some degree. So, I would like to think there was ‘method to my madness’. My best friend, Thea, now says, whenever the story is regaled ‘May, if you were trying to prove to them you’re not insane…that wasn’t your smartest move’. I still contradict her by saying that I’m clearly competent and have some sense of self preservation, or I’d have absconded to a mountain somewhere and not contacted anyone. Starting a new life as a little Peruvian girl with a pet donkey. I even took the little red cup that I had been taught to use to measure cereal and milk in self-catering, so as to ensure I was equipped to eat. The only draw back to this whole self-catering, breakfast plan was that, well…id only been taught how to do breakfast myself. You do self-catering in careful slow stages in hospital, learning to eat again is not a quick process, and learning to feed yourself is even harder. If you think about the journey that lots of us had taken, from being tube fed, to put on a yogurt diet, to softs etc, and before all of that, rejecting food all together, teaching us to eat again was kind of like teaching astro-physics to a load of novices with a serious aversion to science. The lovely Occupational therapists spent a lot of time helping us in groups of 2 or 3 learn to give our bodies what we needed. So, I had breakfast down-pat. I bloody loved breakfast. I’d have got a bloody first class degree in my ‘re-feeding breakfast skills’. But…I couldn’t actually do anything else yet. I knew that this adventure was going to feature a lot of cereal and toast. But you know what, I was cool with that. In my opinion, it was better than previous holidays that had featured a whole lot of nothing, or, me trying to communicate with an Egyptian man in our lovely hotel that I wanted only an egg white omelet and that he could not use oil to cook it and then freaking out as he made it in front of me, convinced there was oil left in the pan from the previous person’s normal omelet. (How much do you all want to go on holiday with me right now?!) Just before the plane took off, literally, as we were trundling down the runway and all electronics should’ve been off (don’t be angry Easy Jet), I hit send on an email I had prepared for my parents and another I had prepared for my fellow patients. In both, I explained I was fine, but that I had run away, my reasons for doing so, and the assurance I would be in contact when I got where I was going. Apparently, upon getting the message, Finlay (a fellow crazy who I love a lot) voiced his conviction to the others that I would definitely have left the country. Everyone told him not to be ridiculous. However, Finlay knows me well enough to know I don’t do things by halves. He also knew I was at breaking point and how bloody desperate I was. If only they’d listened to Finlay….

The entire flight I felt sick. I was shaking, so so worried about everyone at home and how much trouble I’d be in. I was also concerned that upon arrival, I’d get barred from entering Spain and forced back onto a flight with a police escort. Thank God, this was not the case and upon arrival in Barcelona, I breezed through boarder control. I felt in a bit of a daze really. I had done it. I’d actually bloody done it. This was by far the most rebellious thing I had ever done. It was at the same time exhilarating and petrifying and the prospect of picking up any of the calls or replying to the rapidly building messages on my phone was not a pleasant one. I picked up to my mum though. I couldn’t leave her in the dark any longer. We had ridden the anorexic dragon together all the way, we had fought over porridge oats and laughed about my ridiculous convictions. It wasn’t fair to leave her panicking when I knew how much she had battled along with me. It was pretty dreadful telling her, she was shocked, to say the least. But in true maternal style and instinct, she knew not to yell, or even berate me. She simply said she was booking a flight for the next morning. Next, I picked up Beth and Finn’s call. I told them where I was. Again, the reaction was more shocked than anything. I told them I had somewhere to stay and food to eat and that my mum was coming. I told them we were going to talk and try to work out what to do on neutral grounds. I should’ve run to Switzerland. The next few days were actually quite good, my mum was not convinced of this really, but I, for the first time in months, felt like a proper person again, with rights and the ability to make choices other than whether to have one stodgy meal or another. We saw the sights, we went shopping, and through it all, we talked. A lot. Finally, I felt listened to and that I was being taken seriously, as oppose to being a prisoner fobbed off by the ‘but you’re mad, so we will just nod and smile’ look. I knew I still had to go back though and this felt dreadful. Upon arriving back to Heathrow I felt sick, this was only worsened by the message that was delivered over the planes tannoy upon toughing down at Heathrow “Can Miss Pillay please make herself known to the crew on board”. Bloody bloody hell. It was about to kick off. I freaked out and burst into tears. My mum went to deal with it, and as everyone got off the plane I saw it…2 big police men, guns, handcuffs and all and bloody bullet proof vests. They seemed just as shocked as we were when my mother ‘made us known’ and they were faced with 2 women, one crying, neither over 5”3 and both with BBC English accents. Apparently, it just comes up on the polices screen, a sort of red flag, that someone is coming into the country who has done something illegal and that they need to be met. Not exactly the hard criminal types. The police men were lovely about it all once my mum had explained the situation. They called the station, who called the hospital, to be assured that it was not necessary for them to drag me back, that I’d come willingly and that my mum was escorting me. So, what did they do? They asked us how we were getting back and offered their services for a lift and to speed us through security. They told me to put my sunglasses on and it would just look like a celebrity or wealthy person returning to the UK with appropriate security. Bloody fantastic they were. They even carried my luggage and, once through passport control, they popped to M&S to get themselves sandwiches for the journey back. I was still quite mortified to hop into the police van for the journey back, but, hey ho, the men were lovely and it saved the money we would’ve spent on a taxi. It was whilst in the van that we all discovered over the police radio and amidst a lot of confusion that I was no longer under section. No one knew why and we were very muddled. I was convinced I had been expelled from Vincent Square due to my ineptitude and general hopelessness. This was not the case. Apparently, if you leave the country whilst under the section, it is null and void. Who knew?! Everyone thought this was my plan all along, but quite honestly, I had no idea. It was just a happy coincidence I suppose. I was still expected back at the hospital that evening though, and was not relishing the prospect, I can tell you. So, for now, that is where I will leave the story. I am sorry it’s been so long. My blog came under scrutiny by the units senior staff and I was asked to just ‘write my feelings in a diary’, I really felt I was yet again being misinterpreted, as it was suggested my writing was lots of slagging off the hospital, it’s staff, the medication, everything really. I later found out, those ‘telling me off’ had not actually read it. Anyway, the telling off really battered my confidence and I was concerned about the effect the blog was having. I was told it was upsetting others. For me, writing is one of the most cathartic exercises, as well as giving me a bit of a confidence boost due to it’s reception. This negative feedback was my first and I concluded that I had to stop to make life easier. It did feel as if I were losing much more than just a silly blog though, I felt, once again, like a talentless failure. It is only now that I’ve really felt able to write again, and it’s been so long, that I’ve got a lot to update. For now though, we will pause, and I will write the next part of this rather odd tale soon. 

1 comment:

  1. You are amazing Maya Pillay! Love you loads ... RJ


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