BARRY


Today,I am meeting up with a different mental health charity to collaborate and co-facilitate an anti- Stigma workshop / group that will be up and running in the next couple of weeks. This  is a  first for me and I’m super excited and my nerves are through the stratosphere.  This is what I have been wanting to do for some time and here I am achieving my dreams. When I was back -institutionalized in an Acute ward with Anorexia and Bipolar in 2005 . I think that personality trait  to help others and organize groups has always been in me.

I was  am a nightmare patient.

I always  refused bed rest and focused my time on doing things like raffles to raise money for a charity shop connected to the Retreat,in York. I ended up raising over £100 in a matter of days with a BMI of 14.5.   so about 41 kilograms. , 90 pounds – I’m nearly 5.8 . 

In other clinics- I was tube fed and restrained -often by up to four nurses.

That is a whole other story and debate.

I met another man who is/was a barrister and he had a complete breakdown. His wife had been cheating on him. I met an artist who expressed her unarticulated pain by painting .  I met a woman who had been fighting Anorexia and OCD  all her life and who taught me how to put a Christmas tree up.

I had forgotten.

I didn’t know what life was  and what it meant to live.

I met a few ladies, not on my unit -The Acorn unit ( the name pun has not gone over my head) . They expressed their pain through cutting and self-harm.

 Nobody played games.  Although some of us,  from time to time would get hold of paracetamol and other shit and  overdose to liven the humdrum mundaneness of life in  an acute ward. I once got caught out on weigh day with fishing scales attached to my paper gown.  The staff  was quite taken aback with imaginative ways we would  come up with to avoid putting on weight. These girls were hard core. I met so many people.

I met a girl who terrified me. I could tell she had been in hospitals all her life. Her family could absolve themselves of whatever guilt they  felt towards their daughter by puttting her in private clinics and the problem was dusted under the carpet. 

I had started the process and recovery of eating again and putting on weight. I couldn’t cope. I developed another way to cope, for at least 4  months my day consisted of:

  •   chewing gum

  • making a coffee

  • eating  more chewing gum

  • make a  cup herbal tea

  • smoke a cig .

 I was on this loop for24 hours /7 days a week   -for 4 months.

 I was driving myself crazy in a way that was unfamiliar to me. The nurses tried to lock me out of the communal kitchens and one night I flipped out when they tried to grab me so I  started throwing stuff around.

I wanted them to help me. The girl who initially  terrified  me came into the kitchen and sat  down on the floor with me and held me for over an hour  while, I shed tears for everything I can remember. 

All the emotions attached to those memories I had pushed aside. None of these people were violent. We were trying to be understood and to understand ourselves.

 I met a young girl with schizophrenia -she dressed like a  Goth. Always had headphones in her ears. She was trying to silence the voices. She had been coping well up until her Mother passed away and like any normal person she was traumatized by it and her mental health went a bit off balance again. She was trying to make sense that her Mother is dead. She was grieving. 

One night a new guy arrived on the scene. I couldn’t take my eyes off him. He had that charisma of  the kind of guy I always seemed to attract. His eyes were full of spark and mischief. A  person you would want on your side. We became friends. We spoke a lot. He did a very Titanic thing and drew a picture of me. Fully clothed. I can’t find the picture to load up. He was still going through the DT’s.  I will live with my memory of how the picture looked- possibly very trippy. Ha Ha.

Barry was only staying for 10 days before he went to ‘a dry out clinic further up  the coast. I don’t know what happened inside me but I didn’t want him to go.

 He was  a lot older than me but we did everything together .I got him painting again. I know he had just got out of prison but he was so talented. I begged the nurses and psychiatrists to let him stay.

‘Look! Look! how talented he is! He needs help from you’.

Our last night before we parted ways . We sat in the smoking lounge and watched ‘Pulp fiction’. I know this may make some people reading this go .. erm………what?

I lay my head down in his lap and he played with my hair. For me, the act was more like a father gesture. I suspect for Barry it could have been different.

He wrote loads of letters and planned to come visit me. The nurses censored my post and  turned him away.

I often wonder what happened to him.

I get  angry that just because he was an in and out of prison for many reasons- he was denied the rehabilition that I received.  He had issues. I am no innocent.

 I feel he  could not have benefited from a recovery type community setting rather than prison. It’s not my place to say what he did, I don’t want to remember. 

 It would have ruined the fact that I found feelings inside me. I could laugh again, I could cry. I was real.  I felt like a human being and not some freak with Anorexia. Anorexia took second place and I wanted it to always take second place. I felt real. 

So back to the Anti-stigma workshop, I am doing. I can’t wait. I have the passion. I have the drive. This is my new chapter. I did have a  beautiful picture Barry drew of a dragonfly but I guess moving around a lot means that I have lost other precious memories.  I  am finally in a position to help other people.  I’m not letting this opportunity get away. 

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8 thoughts on “BARRY

  1. Wow, Daisy, thanks for sharing that. It reminded me of some of my days in the hospital. One of my problems wasn’t “not eating” it was bingeing. I was not allowed to go to the corner store by myself because I would buy a whole pile of junk food and eat it in my room by myself. I had to go out with someone and even then I would be checked when I came back. I could buy snacks but the nurses would confiscate them and give me one at a time. So, I would pay other patients to go to the vending machines on the main floor for me.

    I met several people who really made a mark on my life and were gone. I can really relate to much of your story. It has been about 18 years since my last hospital stay.

    Liked by 1 person

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