SATURDAY 26th JANUARY
MOOD: minus 3
5.35am was the time I woke this morning to have my blood pressure taken, swiftly followed by me falling straight back to sleep.
6.45am. The lights are turned on followed by a blinding flash turning my eyelids a glowing red and jolting me awake. I trundle to the bathroom to brush my teeth looking through my extremely tired, watery, blurry eyes and a big dash of zombie inducing medication.
7am. Breakfast and medication time. I eat a bowl of congee with a small bread roll only after I’d been administered my morning medication.
7.30am. I’m back in my bed to get some more sleep, hopefully.
8.30am It’s shower time and my turn to let soothing droplets of water fall onto my body washing away all the debris from yesterday. In a biblical sense – a daily cleansing and a daily baptising onto the ward.
8.45am. It’s kicking off! A little action on the ward this morning. Patient number one as soon as I saw him yesterday along with patient number five instantly reminded me of a couple of tramps who have blagged their way onto the ward for a free warm bed and hot food. Only to discover that life on the ward is much more arduous than they had anticipated.
A few of the Chinese patients approached me quietly whispering words of warning about them and that I should be careful. I’m way ahead of them in coming to that assumption because growing up on a council estate in Salford, Manchester taught me well, especially when it comes to judging people – some call it “Street Smart” or “Street Wise”. Basic assertiveness in knowing who to trust and who not to. Or…Instantaneously knowing who is a dickhead!
9am. Patient number one is becoming more and more agitated which is probably from the fact he smoked forty cigs in the outside free world, but in here, ciggies ain’t allowed. He wants to leave, but that isn’t gonna happen because the doctors are our rulers, our dictators, our guiding lights who ultimately decide our fate. Similar to being on a humongous rollercoaster ride that you have no control over and will only stop once (they) say it’s time.
I’m getting regular updates of the situation from the patients and patient number one is asking can he leave for one hour, which is only an excuse so he can do a runner. I wonder how many times the doctors and nursing staff have heard that bollocks. Haha!
A little time passes without incident then suddenly he erupts in his case doctors office screaming at him to let him out, pleading with him. Enraged at the dawning knowledge that he isn’t in control of proceedings and the realisation that no matter how angry he gets or how loud he screams, he isn’t leaving J7 Ward.
“In Space No One Can Hear You Scream” (Aliens 1979)
This is day twelve for me and after some deep deliberation between myself and the other Paul I have surmised that bipolar is esoteric and slowly enveloped in conviction needs to rise from the barren land of the black rose to the lucid awareness of the dwellers of the light.
I’ve also noticed that the daily monotony entwined with the stark boredom can only be tolerated or made oblivious if;
- You suffer from a mental illness
- You are heavily sedated with medication
- Both of the above
9.35am. Patient number five kept me up all night with the pitter-patter of his flip flops as he made numerous trips to the toilet because he has a shitty arse and is unable to control a large percentage of his bowels, due to excessive abuse of drugs. This morning has seen him running around the corridors with his fingers up his bum looking for a free toilet. When he did eventually get to the bathroom he lost control leading to him poohing on the floor, in the cubicle, in and around the toilet bowl, and then leaves forgetting to flush.
After a millisecond of cerebration I’ve decided it’s best I use the other bathroom, though I was mindful I don’t want to hurt his feelings. Anyway it keeps the cleaners busy.
10am. Jansen who arrived the same day as me left the psych ward for his freedom to the outside world. The smile on his face said it all as we bid each other farewell.
11.30am. Lunch Time. Two scoops of mashed potatoes, beef in a sauce and cabbage.
Midday. Cassie calls bringing a smile to my weary heart but we can’t talk for too long as patient number one is pacing the dining room waiting to the use the phone.
“Share and share alike”. How do I say that in Chinese ?
I have on too many occasions giggled to myself and brought a wry smile to my face every time I hear an announcement over the tannoy system because it reminds me of, “One Flew Over The Cuckoos Nest.”
I was just thinking how different my life would have been if I’d carried on taking the fluoxetine (prozac used to treat depression) that was prescribed to me by a shrink I used to see in Liverpool, 2001. A bit like asking myself what would have happened to my life if I’d turned left instead of right coming out of the chippie that night on a cold winters night in Liverpool, 2001.
No time for regrets in here.
3pm. One of the staff tells me Jansen dropped by and left me a bottle of Coca-Cola. What a nice touch. Thank you.
3pm. Cathal comes with an A3 art pad, drawing pens and coloured pencils. Awesome ! Due to it not being visiting hours I have to speak to him through the wards security door but, we managed a re-assuring hug before he had to leave on his way to the airport to catch a plane back home to Thailand.
5pm. Dinner time. Two scoops of mashed potatoes, chicken bits in a sauce and cabbage.
5.20pm. I’m sat in the lounge room watching Kiss TV in Cantonese, or is that ? I’m transfixed in a zombie like state staring aimlessly and blankly at the TV no matter what program is on.
6.20pm I’m having a cheeky lie down because I’m completely exhausted.
6.50pm. Karen comes to visit with a few goodies namely biscuits and orange juice. Suddenly Johnny appears, who isn’t as daft as he seems because he has this uncanny ability to materialise at visiting time. A fine analogy would be a seagull intently following a trawler waiting for scraps to be thrown overboard.
Johnny won’t leave us alone and I’m all too aware of his capricious moods especially with Karen present so I move us to the dining room with him still swooping overhead. In the end I had to raise my voice in a controlled manner because I could sense a situation developing due to Karen being the only western woman on a male psychiatric ward. He finally left us alone.
8.30pm. Isn’t time funny ? We look at a calender for an upcoming important date or event that is two weeks away and we think “That’s a long way away, how am I going to be able to wait that long!” Then when the day of the date or event arrives we look back asking ourselves, “Where did those two weeks disappear to? They went so fast.”
This is a peculiar phenomenon because when I was a kid two weeks seemed like an eternity, even a four hour drive to London from Manchester seemed like a week and would never end. Psychologists call this speeding up of time in later life as, “forward telescoping”.
9pm. Medication time. My dosage seems the same.