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….