I don’t want to sound ungrateful and appreciate that there are many people out there who really need psychiatric care and do not receive it, but even when you are deep in the psychiatric system, when you are within the secondary level care unit, supposedly receiving sufficient support, when you have a community psychiatric nurse, a support worker, therapy, medication, even then; there are still so many mistakes made. You could wave a flag in front of, “The Help”, light it with fire and parade up and down in front of them, still not to receive the appropriate acknowledgment and required care.
I manage my various mental health symptoms to the best that I can. I take my medication. I try to eat well. Exercise. Laugh. Smile. Be honest and in touch with my feelings and symptoms.
Group therapy has been a bumpy ride since the beginning. I missed the first session as I got the times wrong. I cried inconsolably at the second and had to leave the room due to anxiety. The third was easier although still not as rewarding as I hoped, not enjoyable at all. I missed the fourth due to a separate engagement which was unavoidable. My personal fourth session was rather different, there were a few new faces (new peers tend to join every four weeks or so) and also a lady psychiatrist who was standing in for, “Merchant.” It was the first and last session that I actually quite enjoyed, in fact I had contemplated not going at all but it was half term and so my Mother personally took me there and collected me that week. It still felt very much like school, with all the don’ts and hardly any do’s.
“Peer’s must not leave the room throughout the entire session. Peer’s must raise their hand if they want to speak. Peer’s must do as instructed by the therapists. Peer’s must not take notes, even if just for themselves. Peer’s are restricted from using any technology like a phone or mp3 during the session. Peer’s must not leave to go to the toilet.”
I endured such rules over twenty-one years of education but therapy is not school! My peer’s and I are not children. I am sure that all of the rules were created to develop a safe environment but in fact it felt forced and surreal, like no other space that I have been in before. It made me feel claustrophobic, unsafe and extremely uncomfortable.
On Thursday 25th February 2016 I had been very organised and felt extremely pleased with myself. I organised transport to and from therapy and home. I was ready to get something/discover something/feel something that day. I was super early. I sat outside contemplating whether to vape or smoke. There was a really petite and kind lady that joined me outside, it was cold but the sun was shining. She spoke freely to me and it turned out that she was also attending the, “Building Emotional Resilience” group. When called into the room, I noticed the female therapist again.
Every group session began with, “Mindfulness” breathing. I had never really participated in it before that day. I found closing my eyes in a room full of strangers extremely daunting but this time, I tried. It is intended to be a calming and relaxing stimulant, like meditating. The technique is used to begin the session to unite both the peers and professional’s, to alleviate any tension from the week prior and bring down our anxiety levels that build up from the moment we leave group until the moment we return. This very same, “Mindfulness” exercise, meditation and focus strategy is used to keep us calm, ease our body’s minds and dare I say it, souls, perhaps worked far to well! I could still hear my usual psychosis voices that have been present and consistent for sometime but completely hypnotised, my lids became heavier and heavier and I could not snap out of it once the exercise was concluded. I was in a bizarre state of conscious and unconsciousness, my body slumped forward.
The therapist picked up on this and I can only describe her behaviour as pushy and challenging. She accused me of not being interested in the group. She probably came to this conclusion because I had felt comfortable enough to share my reservations the week prior, I thought the whole point was that we were supposed to be honest? She said that my sleepiness was offensive! I was responding but I cannot remember what I said exactly. Initially I was so consumed with tiredness but fighting it and trying to communicate. When I started to regain consciousness, I was surprised that we were still having a conversation. I tried to explain that if I wanted to just sleep, I would have just stayed at home, instead of making some serious effort to get there. I tried to explain that I had fallen asleep in group the first time and, “Merchant” just let me be. Finally, I tried to explain that my old therapist called my seemingly random acts of tiredness, a self taught disassociation technique. My brain often shuts down like a computer, if certain buttons are pushed. I have done it for as long as I can remember. It’s a subconscious thing, but I now understand it. I even used to do it at school, when lessons were tough, bullies were ridiculing me or during exams. I would have assumed that this information was in my notes? Yes the female therapist was standing in for another, but I would expect that she would have glanced at the profiles of my peers and I prior, at least once! She pushed and she pushed and she pushed until I began to cry inconsolably for the next hour or so until I felt so uncomfortable, so rejected, I left rather hesitant about ever going back after being treated that way. Even my peers stuck up for me.
I went home distraught. I had really wanted to put my whole self into group that day, and embrace all things therapeutic, despite the therapists impression.
I well and truly hit the border, the border of the line, borderline. Feeling deflated, defeated, unworthy, misunderstood, rejected and unimportant. Rationalism had well and truly gone out of the window, the dark cloud was not only hovering over my head but had sucked me into a vortex of a black hole where it had engulfed itself around all of me, I was smothered and consumed. The voices were on super drive, completely charged up from all of the negativity that the therapist had bestowed upon me. They were very much present, well they have been for weeks now but prior to this, I am not sure why. Perhaps a few difficulties and complications with friends were the trigger. Perhaps just struggling with the adjustment of the group therapy dynamic as oppose to individual. Perhaps there is no reason at all and it is simply just my psychosis, something that I have to learn to live with.
I went home and immediately took thirty pills back to back with a bottle of cider. I then attacked and struck my left arm with a razorblade and then decided to go to bed. The voices wanted me to kill myself. I just wanted to sleep off the horrible experiences of the day and be done with it, erase the day and in many ways, erase myself. I decided to call my someone, as I imagined that I would be unavailable soon. Still very much upset, through sobs and tears I told him what I had done, he called the ambulance and told me to contact my best friend. Both the paramedics and my friend arrived and I have no recollection of what happened since then.
After about 24hrs in hospital I was given a medical, physical and psychological all clear and discharged. It was decided that I would have daily visits from, “The mental health home treatment team whilst in crisis.”
My someone stayed with me throughout the weekend, keeping me safe and distracted.
Now of rational mind, I think of my loved ones and I very much regret my lack of restraint., but I know that this fight is not over. When psychosis, hallucinations, depression and anxiety get a firm hold of me, I only see darkness and all things good are forgotten. I am angry that trying to recover resulted into such a catastrophic scenario, and only hope that the trust can provide more of a suitable type of recovery procedure for me in the future.
01/03/16 In addition to what happened at group, I received a phone call from the very same female therapist that had upset me so much that it lead to suicidal behaviour. She told me that it would be best if I do not go back to group therapy. I asked if we could continue the conversation and weigh up my options when I had support with me (for back up and evidence). She said that she had a lot of meetings and so I felt obliged to continue. She said that it has been acknowledged that group therapy seems to be creating more problems for me, rather then being heeling. All things considered (the overdose) it would be best if I did not return. I tried to explain that it was not the group itself that lead to my self destructive behaviour, but her and her alone. Her harsh words and accusation’s, her challenging tactics made me feel rejected and abandoned. She said that the way I interpreted her style of delivery was not intended to upset me. I thought to myself, “I’m sorry… is that supposed to be an apology?” She clearly has no idea of the magnitude of distress that she has caused me, the evidence being the fact that she called me. Not as a follow up. Not to offer me options but to simply reject me all over again. My place in group has now been revoked, I am officially banned, no longer welcome and it has been decided for me! The phone call could have made me repeat my actions of the week prior. Why did She think it a good idea to talk to me ever again, especially with such bad news. If home treatment team were not due any moment, I fear that I may have been thrown back into the darkness that she initially activated in me. Rejected by this woman, once again. Unbelievable!