J

J was a friend of mine on the ward. We were both very different people, from very different walks of life, but got on surprisingly well. He had been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia and was admitted to hospital around the same time as me. We both loved playing pool and we shared a love of sitting outside smoking and sharing stories about how crazy we could be.

To some people, J could appear to be quite threatening. He was very tall, of stocky build with a shaved head and several missing teeth, but I only saw how kind and gentle he was. He frequently made me tea, gave great hugs and was always there to listen when I was having a hard day.

It took just 24 hours for that all to change.

It was breakfast time when I overheard the nurses talking about a bed shortage at a neighbouring hospital, which meant three patients were due to be transferred to our ward. This wasn’t completely out of the ordinary and I didn’t really give it a second thought as I quietly went about my morning. It was only a couple of hours later, when I walked outside for my mid-morning fag, that realised there was going to be a problem.

J was sitting on the bench in the courtyard, joined by three, twenty year-old-something girls who were laughing and joking. As these were obviously the new patients, I reluctantly walked over to introduce myself. An elated J jumped up and said ‘this is V ! V,  I knew these girls from another hospital!’ I instantly felt that I was not going to be accepted into their clique. Hostility was oozing from their eyes as J excitedly introduced me. None the less, I responded politely with a quiet ‘hello’ but swiftly made my exit.

For most of the afternoon, I whiled the time away reading a Ruth Rendell book I found in the activities room. After a while, I decided to brave it and go back and go back outside but as I approached the courtyard door, I could hear shouting. I continued to walk outside, where I found J and a few other patients with the new trio, chanting and singing. Sometimes we had a friendly sing-song outside, but this was different, this felt antagonistic.

I spotted a couple of nurse leaning on the wall outside, seemingly monitoring the unruly group. I quickly finished my cigarette and went back inside to my crime novel. As the afternoon hours melted away, I couldn’t shake the feeling that something wasn’t quite right. Maybe it was the lack of nurse checks at my end of the ward or the eery silence that lingered throughout the corridors.

At 6pm I headed down to the dining room for dinner. When I entered the room, I saw J sat around our usual table with the new girls. He looked up, but instead of calling me over, as he usually would, he turned away, continuing to laugh and joke with his new-found friends. I took my soggy rissole and sat down on a neighbouring table. Before I could tuck in to my not-so delicious meal, angry shouts and a crash of doors broke the silence. The words “Get the fuck off me!” bellowed from the hallway.

We all looked up to see four burly policemen scramble past the dining room door carrying A, a patient who had been discharged a week ago. A flurry of nurses and doctors led the officers and A through the ward towards the PICU (Psychiatric Intensive Care Unit). His anguished cries echoed the halls, eventually leaving behind an uncomfortable silence that resonated throughout the dining room.

The silence was interrupted by one of the new girls.

“That’s fucking wrong.” she spluttered in a thick Welsh accent

Her crass words stirred something in all of us, but unlike many of the others, I knew that my feelings of empathy were distorting my perspective. I knew A wasn’t well and possibly a danger to himself – that’s what mattered. I abandoned my meal and headed back to my dorm, leaving the others to their angry whisperings.

At 10pm (and right on cue) one of the nurse’s shouted ‘meds!’ from the other end of the ward. I pulled a jumper over my pyjama top and clumsily threw on some slippers, before walking down the long corridor towards the dining area and nurse’s station. As I got closer, one of the health care assistants signalled for me to go straight in to the dining room.

‘What’s going on?’ I whispered.

He ignored my hushed question and gestured me towards the dining room once more. But just before I obediently complied, I heard a shout come from the courtyard. Through the glass doors on the opposite side of the corridor, I could see a large group of staff nervously standing outside. Under the orange glow of the courtyard’s security lights, I could also see that the staff were actually observing J, the three new girls and a couple of other patents, who had gathered around one of the benches outside.

After I was given my medication I was quickly ushered back to the dorm, where I got ready for bed. It was just myself and an older lady in the four-bed dormitory that night, so I had nothing to do but let the sleeping tablet take effect and drift off to sleep.

I must have slept for at least two hours before something woke me. Without moving, I opened my eyes and listened intently to the shouts coming from the far end of the hallway. I peered up at the doors leading into the dorm, watching the light from the hallway trickle through it’s frosted glass. My older dorm-mate continued to snore as I quietly pushed back my sheets and crept out of bed. A sudden crash of doors and more shouts from the far end of the corridor cut through the night-time silence and I jumped back.

I held my breath, frozen in the darkness. My curiosity urged me forward and I placed a hand on the wooden swing door, before cautiously pushing it open a crack. I poked my head into the corridor and checked for any staff. It was deserted at our end of the hallway, so I silently tip-toed though the door, keeping my back to the wall. As I shuffled further down the corridor, the shouts became louder and I could see fast-moving shadows at the far-end of the ward near the doors leading outside into the courtyard.

As I passed the neighbouring dorms, I could see a couple of other patients peering through the windows in the doors. I found safety behind a corner in the corridor, where I slumped to the floor and stared in disbelief at the carnage that was unfolding at this end of the ward.

About twenty feet away from where I hid, I watched two policemen pull a man through the courtyard doors back onto the ward. I winced at the sound of crashing bins and two more police officers dashed outside, followed by a few members of staff who barked threats at the clamorous collective who had obviously taken control of the courtyard. Some of the chants outside were almost certainly that of the new girls… and J.

Two police officers pulled one of the screaming girls through the doors. An out-of-breath nurse followed them inside, but just before he chased them down the hall, he turned and caught my eye. I sprinted back up the other end of corridor and darted into my dorm. My hands were shaking and breathing was heavy, but I found safety under my bed sheets. I continued to listen to the distant shouts, before drifting back to sleep.

The sunlight streaming through the windows woke me from my drug-induced slumber. As I opened my eyes, I remembered the night before and I felt a surge of anger well up within me. The anger churned inside and I thought about how much I hated J for getting involved with those girls – they ruined everything.

But when I looked at my phone and saw two messages from J, the jealousy disappeared and my heart sank;

“Got kicked off ward. Won’t let me back” 

“Dunno what to do.”

J was feeling as broken I was, but out there, alone.

Darkness

The darkness was comforting, like a loving friend wrapping a blanket of stars around your shoulders.

It was 2 o’clock in the morning and the air was crisp with cold, but not uncomfortable. Underneath the music in my headphones, I could feel my feet pounding the pavement  I was walking with intent, but without clear direction or purpose, across parks and through maze-like housing estates.

Occasionally, I would stop to sit on a bench, smoking four or five cigarettes, before gathering my thoughts and continuing my nebulous journey. The faux-fur hood on my navy coat was pulled over my head, covering most of my face. I felt protected and hidden from the occasional passerby – if I couldn’t see them, they couldn’t see me.
After an hour of striding through the outskirts of the quiet city, I came to stop at the foot of a busy bridge. The orange glow from the the street lights masked the starry sky and I felt my comfort blanket quickly snatched from my shoulders.

I removed my headphones to be greeted by a torrid of traffic noise. I had walked as far as the city allowed. This was the end of my journey and the air felt colder now.

The Prisoner

They say prison is like a fishbowl, a world within a world. This is how it felt in hospital. Small dramas that would mean nothing on the outside, meant a great deal to those on the inside. A change in routine or a negative comment could mean disaster and massive set back in your recovery.

I was on a high dosage of anti-psychotics, which made me incredibly drowsy. By the time I had taken my sleeping tablets in the evening, I was out for the count and although I had an undisturbed nights sleep, I found it near-impossible to wake up the following day.

One particular morning I felt as though my legs were tied down with weights, I could barely open my eyes and it was struggle to get out of bed for breakfast at 8 o’clock. I managed to grab a slice of toast before wandering back to my dorm and drifting off to sleep again.

When I awoke around 11 o’clock, I just lay there, staring at the magnetic curtain rails surrounding my bed. The depression hit me square in the face. I hated the drugs and being tired all the time, I hated the hospital and most of all, I hated myself. I felt like a prisoner in my own body and I lashed out at my face and chest in frustration.

I didn’t usually go to the nurses for help but the anxiety was crippling me. The medication from the night before was wearing off and I felt like I mite explode. I wandered down the hallway and knocked on the staff office door.

“Can I speak to someone please?” I muttered.

An older nurse stood up with her cup of tea and sighed, as if I had just asked the world of her.

“What do you want then?” She replied despondently while picking at a loose thread on her sleeve.

I think i need a PRN, I don’t feel great” I mumbled.

She looked at me and raised an eyebrow. PRN means ‘pro re nata’ meaning ‘as needed’ and usually comes in the form of a lorazepam tablet to help calm patients. But Nurse Ratched was not best pleased with this request.

“As far as I’m aware, you’ve been asleep all morning, what could you possibly be anxious about?”

She then picked up her mug of tea and took a sip which was proceeded by a loud, sharp slurp.

I stormed out of the corridor and into the courtyard with my fists clenched. I kicked and punched out at the wall. I then lit up a cigarette and sat down on one of the benches. My body was shaking and my mind was racing, I had never felt so angry. Maybe it was being told no, or maybe it was because it felt like no one was listening, but I took my cigarette and stubbed it out on the back of my hand. I could see another patient in the courtyard run inside to get staff so I got my lighter out and carried on burning my already blistered skin.

A couple of nurses ran outside and grabbed the lighter out of my hand. I started to pull at my hair and claw at my face, I just wanted to tear away the layers of pain.

I was escorted inside and given the PRN, but I didn’t feel better. As I drifted back off into a drug induced haze, I caught a glimpse of how my life could be and tear rolled down my cheek.

The Incredible Journey

I sat on my bed in my parents house. Although I had lived there for 23 years, the room felt alien to me. I had been discharged from hospital two days ago, after a painful and testing six month stay. Just before I was admitted, I didn’t believe I was going to be returning home.

My mum called me from downstairs, it was time to leave and go to a new therapy group I had been enrolled into. It was a 12 week programme for young people with mental health problems and so soon after coming home, I was terrified.

I was wearing my favourite dress with my white long sleeve cardigan that covered the scars on my arms. I had washed my hair and put an extra layer of make up on to try and disguise my pale hospital skin. Mum and I stayed fairly quiet in the car, filling the silences with talk of passing farm animals and interesting foliage.

As we arrived at the community centre, I took a deep breath, said bye to Mum and jumped out the car. I was trying my hardest not to show my anxiety to people passing in the car park, hoping I would spontaneously combust before I reached the entrance. I walked into reception where an old security guard guided me towards a room where ten other anxious looking faces looked up at me from their seats.

At this point, I realised everyone was wearing outdoor clothing. Waterproofs, boots, wellies, the lot. I looked down at my pink floaty dress and thought “shit”.

A young, chirpy blonde youth worker appeared in front of me and cheerfully said;

“Did you know we’re going mountain biking today?”

I stared at her with complete contempt and replied;

“Um no, no I did not know that.”

Inside, my brain was repeating various expletives but the cheery youth worker maintained her annoying positivity.

“Well you’ll be the most glamorous mountain biker we’ve had!”

Part of me wanted to kill her but I abstained from violence as she introduced me to the rest of the group and the one other male youth worker. They all seemed quite nice actually.

I sat next to a girl on the minibus who looked about excited as I was. We didn’t say anything to each other but I could tell we shared a mutual feeling of general unhappiness about the situation. We eventually arrived at what seemed like a lumber yard. The youth workers assigned us each a bike and helmet and we started our journey across the Welsh countryside.

After cycling across rivers, over hills and through vast woodland, we arrived at a park where we all sat and had sandwiches. By now, I had forgotten all about my ill-chosen clothing and initial anxiety. We didn’t want to admit it, but after chatting and laughing about how muddy we were, it seemed our outdoor activity had proved a valuable and uplifting adventure.

Pyjamas

“Sometimes I feel like I am not here, that I am a dream somebody is having. A nightmare someone has conjured whilst sleeping. Everything is empty and lifeless. An empty world full of empty beings, believing what happens to them matters. Nothing matters. It is all forgotten and we shall be forgotten.” – My diary, April 2010.

 

I walked in through the back door and shouted the usual ‘hello!’ as I kicked my shoes off. I didn’t hear a reply from Mum, so I assumed she was out.

As I pushed open the kitchen door, I saw Mum sitting at the table with a serious look on her face, that told me she was pissed off.

“You OK?” I asked with a sense of trepidation.

Mum looked up at me and replied “What the hell is wrong with you at the moment?”

I knew she was referring to my behavior from the night before. Her vile friend S had come over for dinner and to make the evening more bearable, I took eight diazepam. I could barely string a sentence together and every time S spoke, I uncontrollably smirked, laughed or snorted.

“I wasn’t feeling well, sorry.” I mumbled.

“Well, your attitude stinks, and not just last night!” She snapped..

I couldn’t do it anymore, I was unhappy and was tired of hiding it. This was it, I was finally going to tell her about my depression..

“Mum, I’m sorry I was weird last night, I’ve not been feeling great for a while and I’m seeing a doctor because I’ve been depressed.”

Mum sighed and replied with

“So are you taking medication then?”

I felt my eyes well up. For years I had kept quiet so I wouldn’t disappoint her. When I was 14, I was referred to a psychiatrist but Mum and Dad refused to acknowledge anything was wrong. Nearly 10 years later, it was happening again. I needed my Mum but it seemed she just dismissed my pain and just sounded irritated at what I said. I half expected her to whip out a giant fly swat and splat me against the cooker.

I told her how I felt and we argued until I couldn’t take anymore. I ran upstairs and fell on to my bed, sobbing into the duvet. The one person I was worried about hurting, didn’t care about hurting me. Everything just felt hopeless.

I snuck into the bathroom and grabbed every pillbox I could find. Paracetamol, sleeping tablets, antihistamines, Ibuprofen, it didn’t matter, I just didn’t want to live anymore.

 

“Do you know where you are?”

I slowly opened my eyes and looked up a nurse, who repeated “Can you tell me where you are?”

I looked down at the tubes coming out of my arms and saw that I was wearing my favourite pyjamas.

My mouth was so dry, I could barely speak. “How did I get into my pyjamas?”

“Your Mum dressed you, she didn’t leave your side all night. She will be back soon, she told me she wanted to get you clean clothes before you woke up.” The nurse replied softly.

I drifted back to sleep and when I woke later, Mum was sitting beside my bed. I felt a huge amount of guilt in the pit of my stomach, but before I could open my mouth to say sorry, she reached over and hugged me tightly.

Any feelings of emptiness vanished in that hug. I felt as though I mattered and that Mum needed me just as much as I needed her.

 

Water Baby

I walked quickly from the bus station, clenching my fists.

I cursed myself for being late. Why did I not get an earlier bus? I was always rushing for everything. I continued to swear at myself as I briskly walked under the bridge towards the leisure centre. It was quite warm considering it was October and beads of sweat started to collect on my upper lip as I neared the car park.

I arrived outside the dank old leisure centre and started to angrily pace back and forth. I was trying to work out how I ended up here, waiting for a carer to take me swimming. The cursing continued inside my head, until I had enough;

“Fuck it, I’m going!”

“Hello?” A voice behind me made me jump.

“Are you Virginia? I’m G, the support worker, we spoke on the phone?”

G only looked a couple of years older than me, which was surprisingly comforting. I stopped being angry and started to feel anxious. I love swimming, I was always a water baby and even won medals in school, but since I started self-harming I couldn’t face getting into a swimming costume. The thought of having all my scars on show made me want to curl into a ball and die.

I followed G inside and headed towards the changing rooms. I stopped before the door,  I could hear the splashing sounds from the pool and the smell of chlorine was overwhelming. G nudged me forwards and told me to get changed and she would meet me by the showers.

As I got undressed, I looked down at the scars that completely covered my arms and legs. The cut scars were like thick red and white zebra stripes and the burns disfigured my wrists. I started to cry, how could anyone bare to look at me?

G came and found me. I was wrapped in a towel, hiding behind the lockers.

“You better be coming in, I need your advice on clothes for Download festival.”

I shrugged and slowly took the towel off, expecting G to recoil in horror. She looked down at my legs and cheerfully said;

“Nice tattoo! Now hurry up, I’m cold!”

I looked down at the tattoo on my foot and smiled to myself. I followed G towards the edge of the pool and took a deep breath. I lowered myself in and although I could see a couple of old ladies peering at me over their floats, it didn’t matter. I was finally in the water after years of hiding and it felt brilliant.

Visiting Hours

This week, a couple of close friends and family told me how difficult it was for them to visit me in hospital. My Mum told me how she cried when she left the ward and how hard it was to see me so down.

It’s always hard to see someone you love in pain, I don’t dismiss that. The guilt I feel for what I put my family and friends through, is heart-wrenching and I deal with that every day.

So with that said, I would like to give you a brief glimpse into visiting hours, from a patients perspective.

 

It was 4 o’clock in the afternoon, I was sat on the cold, concrete floor of the ward’s courtyard. I had my back against the porch wall, smoking a fag, trying to escape the rain that was slowly getting closer to my feet.

There were a few of us crammed into the porch, trying to smoke while avoiding the hurricane style conditions. And can I just say, squeezing a bunch of nicotine craved mad people into a small space, is never easy.

I was sat next to K, a girl I liked very much, but unfortunately didn’t get to see that often. She stayed in her room most of the time, hooked up to a feeding tube. She didn’t like visitors and only talked when she came outside for an occasional cigarette. We liked the same music and shared a love of fashion, so it was nice when we did get to catch up.

K hated visitors. She was only 17, so the ward allowed her parents to visit whenever they wanted. When K’s parents would visit, she would come outside for a smoke as much as she could. She found it hard to see them so upset,

We both decided to go inside after one of the guys who was pacing back and forth, fell over me for the tenth time. Dinner was almost ready, so K wandered back to her room to face her parents, rather than see the food trolley being wheeled in.

At that moment, my mum called me on my mobile, she said she wanted to visit tonight, which would make it three visitors in total. My Mum, my boyfriend, M and my birth Mother, T. I should say, I’m adopted and at this point in my life, I had only recently met my birth Mother.

I went to the dining room and quickly ate my cauliflower cheese with my designated nurse watching my every move. I got up, scraped the remaining smelly cauliflower into the bin and headed back to my room. I had 45 minutes to get ready for my first visitor and there was a lot of preparation to do..

That morning, I had cut and burnt myself pretty badly, so I was given a large padded dressing on one arm. I wasn’t allowed access to my clothes, so I had to direct the nurse through my bags to find a large jumper that could hide the bandages. Make-up was also a challenge, as I wasn’t allowed my make-up bag. As the nurse passed me my mascara, I just wanted to punch the mirror. Looking at my reflection was painful, but I had to put on make-up, as the more normal I looked, the happier my visitors were.

I brushed my hair, cleaned my teeth and put on the big cardigan my nurse had found for me. I felt my chest get tight and the panic set in. My boyfriend at the time, visited me everyday and I did look forward to seeing him but he was a daily reminder of the world outside, something I desperately wanted to hide from.

I stood waiting by the door. The nurse had given me something to help calm me down, so I was feeling a bit whoozy. I saw M through the glass of the ward doors and I instantly put on my best smile as they let him through.

I took his hand and lead him to the dining room, which turned into the visitors room at 6 o’clock. It was quite small, with only four round tables to sit 20 patients. The confined space made it difficult to talk about anything personal, as you always had other patients and nosy relatives listening in.

M talked about his day and what was happening on the news, fairly usual stuff. I never had much to say, as I felt he wouldn’t want to hear how bad I was feeling. He asked about why the nurse was watching me and I reluctantly told him about my arm, which made him upset and he looked angry.

Mum turned up and chatted with M for a few minutes at the table, but I felt like a spare part as they discussed my medication and how they thought I was feeling. They pretended to be happy in front of me and made small talk, joking about the old fashioned hospital curtains.

I just kept smiling.

When M said his goodbyes and left, I felt the panic again. I had to pretend to be happier in front of Mum and look like I was getting better, when really I still felt desperately suicidal. I sat there listening to her tell me how all of her church friends were praying for me and that God could save me.

It made me angry and I felt like I mite explode, any chance to shove religion down my throat! But I stayed quiet and smiled. She gave me some grapes and hugged me goodbye. As soon as I waved her out the door, I rushed outside to the courtyard and cried while I smoked a cigarette. I spent my whole life hiding, pretending to be fine and visiting time was no different..

Within minutes, my nurse called me to let me know T, my birth mother, had arrived. I had only known T for a matter of months, so having her visit me on a mental ward was a whole new kind of awkward. We sat down and chit-chatted while I carried on smiling. I was starting to get tired, but I felt so guilty about her coming all this way and I understood it must have been really hard for her.

While we were talking, T started to look away from me and stumble on her words. I thought it was getting too much for her, when all of a sudden she discreetly pointed behind me and whispered;

“Sorry I’m not concentrating, I think the couple on the table behind you may be enjoying themselves a bit too much…”

I subtly turned around and caught a glimpse of a large Vicky Pollard lookalike trying to hide her vigorous hand movements under the table. A scrawnier looking guy in a hoodie (who I recognised as a patient) was trying his best to look nonchalant.

I wasn’t sure whether to laugh or cry. One of the nurses broke up the couple’s intimate moment and reminded everyone that visiting time was over. I said goodbye to T and hurried back to my room to scrub the make up off my face.

I did appreciate visitors and I loved them all, but after every visit I felt the need to go over every little detail of the meeting, and analyse everything that was said. I had serious paranoia which left me exhausted and embarrassing hand-job moments certainly didn’t help ease any of my anxiety.

Film Club

Not all my memories from hospital are bad. There were brief moments in which I felt content and safe from the outside world. I remember A, a healthcare assistant, who was particularly kind. His wife was a nurse on the ward and both of them always had time for you. They never used the words ‘I’m busy’ even though they always were.

It was dark outside.

I stubbed out my cigarette and wrapped my cardigan tight around me. It was spring, but in Wales that means nothing. I turned around to walk back inside but A, who was my supervising guard for the night, stopped me.

“I’ve got something” he whispered.

There was a mixture of excitement and trepidation in his hushed voice. I felt reluctant to reply but he was standing in the way of the warm.

“Um, what is it?” I reluctantly replied.

He looked around the empty courtyard and back through the glass doors on to the ward. Once he established no one was watching, he unzipped his coat and reached inside. I was nervous, could my trusted HCA be losing it?

My confusion deepened as he pulled out a DVD case.

“It finally arrived… I’ve got Salem’s Lot, the original TV series, are you in? Only a select few can know!”

I have to inform you at this point, A was about 6”5, built like a brick shithouse and must have been in his late 30s. Even though I was cold, it was quite amusing listening to him get excited about his 70s vampire DVD.

After 8 o’clock tea and biscuits, I got into my pyjamas and headed off in the direction of the lounge. When I got there, my other female HCA left me in the hands of A, who by now had drawn the curtains, rearranged the furniture and loaded up the DVD player. I sat down and said hello to the other reluctant patients who had been chosen to join A’s secret film club (I understood that vampire horror wouldn’t be appropriate for everyone on the ward).

A proceeded to tell us how lucky we were to be picked to watch such a classic film, to which I reminded him I had no choice, he was my guard for the night I had to follow him everywhere. We all got comfy and as the film got scarier, we all started to cling on to each other and laugh when we got scared.

Even though the film made us jump, we felt at ease. A had achieved his goal, he had brought together the patients on the ward who felt most alone.

And It would have been an outstanding triumph… if one of the dementia patients on the second floor hadn’t screamed and thrown a pillow at the lounge window.

We lost a few members after that.

Games

In my first post, I promised not to bore you with tales of my sadness and woe. I want you to know that through telling these stories, I hope to reach out to people experiencing mental illness or give insight to those of you not directly affected.
I want to give you an accurate and truthful account of my experiences, so some will inevitably touch on sensitive issues or will include graphic description of injury. There will also be some strong language. I hope you understand that this will enable me to depict a factual and honest account of what happened.

Now that’s over with, let’s begin.

I am not a religious person. I do not believe in God but after being diagnosed with psychotic depression, I do believe in the power of the mind and how dangerous the brain can be.

In August 2011, I had been in hospital for two months with severe depression. After several serious acts of self-harm in the hospital, I was under constant surveillance. I had my own room, personal guard and no furniture or possessions. I had a lot of time to think in that room and quickly became obsessed with outsmarting the medical staff.

Most of my mind games involved the nurses. I loathed the nurses. Of course, there were a couple of good ones who were very patient and caring, but the majority on the ward were cold, soulless and bitter. They hated their job and had no capacity for empathy. On the other hand, the HCAs (Health Care Assistants) were excellent. They were on minimum wage, had little medical education, but supported and helped me more than any of the doctors or nurses. I will always be very grateful.

A typical example of my persistent game playing, happened one morning. I was standing in the shower while a nurse watched me. I awkwardly washed my naked body while trying to hide from the old woman’s judging eyes. When the water stopped, I asked her for a towel and stepped out, desperately trying to hide my bare skin. Just as I was putting my clothes on, the emergency alarm went off. If the alarm goes off, all available staff have to run to help. The alarm was rarely activated so the nurse I was with, panicked. She looked at me, hesitated, and ran out of the door.

For the first time in over a week, I was alone. I was stood in the bathroom with no supervision and my desperate mind took over. I had a minimal amount of time before the nurse realised what she had done and ran back to the bathroom. I felt the adrenalin run through my veins. I rushed to the sink, unscrewed the bulb above the mirror and performed my usual trick. I had smashed the bulb in a towel and picked out the sharpest pieces in seconds. I put the rest of the glass in the bin and placed the towel in the laundry basket. I put the selected shards in a tissue, hid them in my bra and calmly waited.

The alarm stopped and the panic-stricken nurse reappeared. She came into the bathroom and closed the door behind her. While trying to get her breath back, she coldly asked;

“You haven’t done anything, have you?”

“No” I casually replied.

She knew she would be in trouble if someone found out I had been left unsupervised. She walked up to me in a fairly threatening manner and said;

“Good, cause I’m trusting you and I won’t trust you again if you’ve done anything.”

She looked down at the wounds I had inflicted on my arms the week before. With a hushed voice she snarled;

“Why do you do this? What do you achieve by doing this?”

I could feel the disdain in her voice, but I said nothing. I didn’t care, I had won. I followed her out of the bathroom, smiling while I briefly glanced at the empty light socket above the mirror.