‘Do you suffer from loneliness?’ The junior doctor asked, her tilted face emulating her patronising tone.
I looked up at her and the duty psychiatrist who were both perched on the edge of my sofa. I thought, ‘You may see a fat, depressed, single woman living by herself, but outside of this hell I seem to have fallen into again, I work 50 hours a week in a busy newsroom, earning enough to pay for this lovely flat. I have friends inside and outside of work, who I regularly stay in or go out with. In between that, I write, try to make time to see my family and sometimes sleep. So don’t pity me after seeing five minutes of my life. Loneliness? No.’
I looked back down at my feat and just replied, ‘Um, yeah, sometimes.’
Dr K, the older, male psychiatrist, left the living room to make a phone call, whilst I was left with the young, blonde, junior doctor who kept patting my knee, making ‘awe’ sounds. Thankfully, Dr K returned, but only to say ‘V, you’re going to have to come up to the hospital for the night, if that’s ok?’
I knew the deal. If I said no, I would be sectioned. So I packed a bag and followed them both downstairs to Dr K’s car. I sat in the back of the new BMW, listening to the two doctors engage in appropriate small-talk, while I watched the city scenery begin to flash past the window.
‘V, are you OK back there?’ Dr K asked over his shoulder.
I hesitated, but replied ‘yeah, fine.’
There is always a moment, shortly after I have spoken with my CPN or doctor and just before I am admitted, where I feel completely powerless. It’s usually in a car on the way to the hospital or in a gloomy waiting room. I feel as though I’ve walked into a film, not as a participating character, but as an observer, as if the film is going on around me.
When we arrived at the ward, I was shown to my room by one of the nurses while Dr K filled out some paperwork in the office. My room had a bed, wardrobe, sink and bedside table. The walls were painted off-white and the curtains featured the standard green and orange geometric pattern I had seen so many times before. I sat on the bed as the nurse sifted through my bag, documenting all the toiletries and clothes I had brought with me.
The young nurse looked down at her form and said ‘I’m going to leave you to settle in, dinner is at 5pm and then you’ll have your medical.’
I shut the door as she left the room and casually walked back over to my bag. I preceded to un-hook the long leather strap and set about finding a way to attach it to the wardrobe. I’ve often found that healthcare professionals think that imprisoning you on a psychiatric ward will magically relinquish any of your suicidal feelings. Unsurprisingly, you tend to feel even worse.
With the strap now around my neck, I suddenly heard, ‘What are you doing?! Staff!’
A different nurse had appeared in my doorway and sounded the alarm. I threw the strap on the ground and rushed back to my bed. I sat staring at the wall, while nurses piled into the room. I shut-down and walked into the film again, staying silent and staring at the drab coloured walls. They continued to badger me with questions. ‘Why did you do this? V? What are you feeling?’
The truth is, I didn’t have the answers.