Sunday, 17 June 2012
YESTERDAY afternoon I ended up in a mental hospital! Locked in as well. I had a great time. My friend Pinky was in as punishment for paranoid ideation and hearing the voices of dead friends begging for her assistance. After a week committed to a private clinic with Sky TV (the full package with all the movies and wildlife channels), single rooms for all, and a wide range of refreshments including capuccino and cocoa. All on NHS money. After the psychosis abated, her consultant allegedly declared: "We still can't trust you," and had her transferred to our local nuthouse, where she is ordinarily interred. Two weeks later and she's still not even allowed out ot get a packet of fags from the shop on the corner.
By yesterday afternoon I'd only had seven hours sleep since Wednesday. Physically I was becoming absolutely exhausted, my eyes burning thanks to being constantly open all that time.
But in mixed company I perked up immeasurably. I've been on a natural high ever since finding out that I was moving back to life, back to reality, back to civilization. Pinky thinks I'm going hyper again, because I was extra cheerful, babbling on and on in a loud voice...
We smoked loads of cigarettes and then I met the maddest woman in there, in dark glasses with a tea towel on her head, totally mismatched clothes and a black smudge on the end of her nose. This was Pinky's famous manic friend Margery, who once tipped a can of blue paint over her head, wandered into a pub and tried to get someone to buy her a drink and was surprised when the police ~ the real boys in blue ~ came steaming in to take her to hospital!
I got rid of the smudge for her and asked why the tea towel and she said she's turning into an Arab man.She also said she was having Sting's baby, that her mother was the Virgin Mary and that she thought I was Art Garfunkel in disguise. This prompted a tuneless rendition of "Bright Eyes". She kept asking for the Gap hoodie I had on and gave me a women's purple duffle top. It was way too short in the arms anyway. Pinky was trying not to laugh her head off. It didn't exactly suit me.
When I asked Marge whether wandering about in one flip-flop and one white stilletto wasn't a bit inconvenient, the entire TV room broke into cackles. We would have gone into the quad for a cig, but Marge says the snipers make it too dangerous. She wants a DAB radio walkman.
At 7pm we got free tea and Rich Tea biscuits. The nurses took all the best ones to gobble in the "fishtank" ~ their "nurses' station" hideout. Pinky had a chicken salad sandwich and strawberry yoghurt. I had pea-and-mint tortelloni with cheese. I'd brought in my own packed lunch. Pinky was in a bad mood because she'd been waiting all day to see a doctor ~ I mean, seeing a doctor in hospital shouldn't be THAT complicated. She had itchy private parts yet nobody cared.
The nurses crowded closely in their nurses' station munching on fruitcake, pretending not to notice patients' calls for help. With attitudes like that, I'm surprised they can be bothered showing up for work at all.
The atmosphere in that place was markedly different to the men's ward. A lot more bitchiness and petty squabbling. When I first walked in, a young black girl was pinging to and fro in agitation, loudly ranting on how terribly she felt she had been wronged by her confinement in this locked psychiatric ward. Pinky said such behaviour is more tolerated here, whereas on the men's wards anyone with mania or any type of psychosis who happens to lose their temper, however justifiably, is a candidate for instant "rapid tranquillization" (which entails being wrestled to the floor by ten nurses, having your pants pulled down and a needle shoved in your arse).
There was a locked punishment ward round the corner where ultra stern staff watch six foot six twenty stone (280lb) psychotics to ensure no cigarette lighters are passed through the chainlink fence. My nonviolent friend was confined there for a week some years ago to "teach him a lesson" ~ probably for inconveniencing the nurses in some way. I was horrified when Pinky revealed this was actually a MIXED ward where she had been locked in a couple of times. Not even allowed to light your own fags and subject to constant sexual advances and bullying from dangerously mentally ill men who are only in there because they lost control of themselves and/or cannot grasp the consequences of their actions.
Most of the men in the punishment ward are over six feet tall, and they're in there basically because the nurses on the "normal" wards are scared of them. I think it's ridiculously unfair confining a woman in such surroundings.
You'd think that mental nurses were empathetic, caring people due to the job they do. But that's not necessarily true at all. Many of them just do not care at all.
When I finally left, three hours after I came, loads of people said goodbye who I hadn't even talked to. I seemed to make a big impression. (I wonder whether it was a good one (??!)
When I got home after 8pm, eyes burning, legs acheing, so exhausted I felt I could not go on, I was convinced I would sleep the second I sat down. But no! Sleep still eluded me and I didn't drift off till one a.m.
Then I woke up at six, poured half today's methadone down my throat. Woke again at nine, frozen cold. Not having remembered to pack a breakfast bowl, I had to pick at my chocolate Shreddies (£1 a box at Sainsbury's (special offer)) from a coffee mug.
Normally I'd watch Judge Judy in front of the fan heater to get me moving on such a chill morn. But at this place I pay my own electricity and gas. Come winter I'm investing in an electric throw from Argos which runs on pennies rather than pounds. I don't care how cold it gets, I'm not heating my flat if I have to pay for it.
When something seems to good to be true, it usually is. Energy bills aside, this is probably my nicest home ever. When I've sorted out TV reception this place will be perfect. I just hope I'm here for the long haul. I couldn't bear to get transferred yet again. Something tells me that is exactly what my landlord is planning ...
The internet shop is shut, so I'm at the old one a few streets down, where Gledwood Vol 2 was born! So the circle is full to completion. Next stage: get a life back!
Illustrated: locked ward, as pictured in The Lunatic Express blog ...