It was August 2011 and I was watching the London riots unfold on the tv.
To me, it may as well have been happening on another planet. I was watching it on my own in one of the ward lounges, sat on a sofa covered in an uncomfortable wipe-clean material. I had been in hospital for two months and it didn’t matter what was on the news, as far as I was concerned, I wasn’t a part of the outside world any more and I didn’t want to be.
I turned the tv off, got up and made my way outside for a fag. It was sunny, so a few patients had gathered outside, crammed into a small square of the courtyard that hadn’t been engulfed by shade. One of the patients, a lady in her fifties with no shoes, was holding a guitar and started to play a Bob Marley song. A few of us sat on the floor and started to sing-along, for a brief moment I forgot where I was. After a couple of verses, one of the nurses came outside to tell us we had some complaints from the dementia ward on the second floor and we had to shut up.
I went back inside and headed to the dorm I was sharing with three other women. I liked sharing, we all looked out for each other. Unfortunately, that was going to be my last afternoon in the dorm for a while.
It was empty in the dorm, everyone was still outside. I pulled the curtain around my bed and started to weep. It’s really hard to describe just how low i felt sitting on that hospital bed. It was like I was grieving for my own life, like I had already died and I was trapped between worlds with no hope of an escape. I pulled back the curtain around my bed, ran into the bathroom and locked the door. I unscrewed the fluorescent bulb in the shavers light above the mirror, then wrapped the bulb in a towel and smashed it on the floor.
I took the shards of glass back to my bed. I found the sharpest needle like pieces and laid them out in front of me. I had stopped crying, I was concentrating on the task at hand. I took the longest shard and drove it straight into a vein on my forearm. I managed to pierce the vein, which proceeded to bleed heavily. I closed my eyes and let out a sigh of relief.
One of the ward nurses found me shortly after and sounded the alarm. I was bandaged up and put on level 1A observation, which meant I was moved to a single room and had to have someone with me at arms length at all times.
I was back in the lounge later that evening, watching the riots on the news again. This time I wasn’t alone, I had my own designated nurse sitting next to me, munching her way through a packet of chocolate digestives.