Since being admitted into a psychiatric unit and sectioned under section 2 of the Mental Health Act 1983, I have become acutely aware that all patients here (voluntary, S2 and/or S3) have ‘good’ and/or ‘bad’ days. On the surface of things, this sounds simple, right? But behind these seemingly shallow words lay quite some complexity, especially if they are thought about in Mental Health terms.
A good day for a patient with a broken leg, might be a day where he/she feels more strength in the affected leg, or is able to put a bit more weight on it. Another good day could see a patient with an open wound suffer less painful whilst developing a scab. You get the gist! I have been in hospital for the last 4 weeks and the question of a ‘good’ or ‘bad’ day remains one of the most difficult to answer. Every time I attempt to casually answer the question, I get freshly reminded how complex a question it really is.
Some days in here have seen me attempt episode after episode of self-harm / attempt at death. They have been days of great emotional distress. Other days have been quiet with no incidents. But, the strange thing is, that good days for staff and friends alike are usually days where incidents don’t happen. But for me – at my lowest, these are the worse days of all. I’ll attempt to explain why below.
These silent days are days of exhaustion, desperation and physical weakness. They’re days that see my thoughts spiral in circles. They are days that mold thoughts and possibilities regarding ending my life into plans. Plans to be executed when I’m physically stronger. On these days, I imagine myself alone, sat on an old merry go round – facing the middle. Wanting desperately to feel that middle, world/existence, whatever it is that seems so dear and valuable to others. But, I’m sat at the outside looking in – and the merry-go round is going so fast I can’t see a thing. The whole world around me is a moving blur whilst I continue to spin, thoughts cracked. Those are my bad days. But they’re invisible to staff, friends and others – so are too easily thought of as good days.
Good days for me are days when I can jump off the merry-go round for a few minutes, gain some insight and perspective, and see things clear for a short while, a cloud, mountain, some sun or snow. Sometimes, I faint / fall after legging it off the merry-go round (let’s call that a day when I attempt to harm myself). There’s a good chance that anyone on that merry-go round would fall after a couple of quick spins. But it’s the getting –up after falling that makes me stronger, and sometimes having to do that against all odds. I will then try to make sense of the situation and explore how cracked thoughts led me there. These for me are good or better days and please don’t think that I am promoting incidents or episodes of self-harm, that is not my point! Although they are risky days, they’re days when I can challenge my strength (no one likes the initial fall) but being able to crawl, then stand tall before moving forward is hugely rewarding. I happen to believe that life challenges us all in different ways. It is much too easy to describe a fall, or a negative attempt at self harm as a bad day. But, if we paint them as challenges, we immediately give ourselves a thousand options to overcome those barriers. I should note that any kind of self harm is serious, and if you think you might be affected by it – be sure to get in touch with GP immediately who should get the ball rolling for you.
In other news, I am trying to quit smoking and have started to use a E-cig! It seems to work at the moment! There has been some alarm I believe about the chemicals used in them, but I guess if you believed everything you heard or read, life would be pretty impossible.