Trigger Warning – Suicide – Notes from a Psychiatric Unit
Life on a Psychiatric Unit is quite unlike life anywhere else. The one thing we all have in common over here is that we spend time here as mental health patients. Some on the ward are voluntary, other like myself are held under Section2 of the MH Act – others on S3.
Time on the ward can be spent in various ways – reading, surfing the net on devices, there’s Tai-chi and Yoga sessions, Art therapy occasionally and Max the Therapy dog calls every Tuesday. There’s also some gardening being done (which I understood at one point today). There’s a piano on the ward, so I can play pretty much anytime I wish. There’s weekly Bingo and a Tea Party held on Friday afternoon. Staff here are also wonderful, they’ve been there for me through all my winters and through the occasional summer like days I’ve experienced. They have continuously kept the pulse to my soul beating when every single thing seemed against me.
My condition often means I cannot easily concentrate on long or taxing activities. I spend most my time here independently as opposed to participating in group sessions and am lucky enough to have a lovely gang of girls I can talk to/laugh with when all becomes a bit too much. Some say that time is a healer. I’ve never been too convinced about that saying if I were honest. Time certainly changes things; it offers a new perspective – we forget certain things in time and even sometimes create brand new memories. Pretty much all the ward patients will agree that time spent here can be slow and difficult. Although it’s a general mental health ward (unlike the intensive care unit) its doors are still locked at all times and patients are not aloud beyond those doors without permission or escorted leave, which is usually authorised by the consultant Psychiatrist.
We all know that money makes the world goes round, or that is certainly what we are told. So I could at this point shoot into a discussion about consumerism and the global monetary system and the affect it all has on our daily lives. But if we stop for a moment and think, something (especially) on this unit is much more precious than money (and smokes!) and that’s TIME.
Most mothers on the ward look forward to the weekend when they get to enjoy some leave with their family. I look forward to half an hour escorted leave around hospital grounds every day, it’s not much, but it’s a start. Leave (even if it is a kind of artificial escorted freedom in here) goes a thousands time faster than half an hour sat on my bed. or, half an hour ruminating. This ward’s most valuably currency undoubtedly is time, it’s debatably the most valuable universal currency outside too. It’s something we all have on here to varying degrees.
I came in here wanting to terminate my life. Wanting to end it all – there was no negotiation about that. Time for me was cruel, vindictive and spiteful. Now, I feel a little different. Although I’m still in very low mood, time is one of the very few things given to us (under normal circumstances) for free – to explore, discover and create – and perhaps – more importantly – to try again and to see things with different eyes – yet we seem to undermine it time after time.
Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time. Thomas A. Edison