I had a fairly mixed weekend.
I went to visit my friend in hospital on Saturday, which was a fairly upsetting day. She is one of my closest friends, and on some levels the friend I am most close to; we met at the Royal Bethlam Hospital and have very similar diagnoses. She is the one person I can call up and rant to about all my crazy stuff, without ever having to worry about actually sounding crazy. We are each other’s lifelines and confidant’s- but now she is back in hospital, and very unwell once again, and I miss her.
She’d been struggling against symptoms, and fighting the illness for many years, but it seems to have got the better of her now, and gained a foothold in her mind again. Directly after first being hospitalised she had a very severe reaction to the anti-psychotic meds the doctors gave her, and spent 4/5 weeks fighting that out of her system. Now she is on a psych ward, and the doctors are working at getting her head better. I hadn’t been able to see her for a few weeks, because of time and money constraints, and so I was really glad to be able to get over and spend time with her once again.
It was so strange seeing her- like she’s there, but not there. Sometimes it seemed as though she was entirely in the room, when she said certain things or looked a certain way I could see my friend clearly in front of me again, but then she’d look away and fade away again. Like other things would pull her focus away and she’d lose her connection to me and the room around her. I got quite upset with Ru last night, because it’s so very heart-breaking seeing her like that. Sometimes she’d just cry, and then lay back and look so far away that I felt like there was miles and miles between us, and I hate to think of what she’s going through, trapped in her mind somewhere within the psychic forces and processes which are overwhelming her at this time.
We’ve talked before about what it was like being in hospital, and being firmly stuck within the psychosis, and I can remember her saying to me “it was so weird, like I wanted to talk to people, but this was happening, and that was happening, and I had to do certain things or else bad things would happen.” I remember what it was like, and I remember how busy your head is when you’re that ill, like there’s always something happening, and always something which pulls on your focus and then holds onto it. You recognise the people who come to visit, but it doesn’t hold any tangible meaning. Nothing around you is real, and everything behind your eyes is; and there’s nothing you can do about that.
I told her that she needed to get better- I told her I was going to be entirely and unashamedly selfish, and said “I don’t care what you want, or what you think you need to do. I need you to get better and come back to me; I need you to get better so I can come and stay round your house again, and drink wine and eat chocolate with you. I want to you promise me that that’s what’s going to happen.”
She nodded, and her eyes filled with tears again; like she heard me, but just couldn’t pull herself forward enough to talk back. She hardly talks, and I kept saying to her, “whatever’s happening in your head, tell me! Tell the doctors everything that’s happening,” and I know that she will when she can. I know I’m always too impatient, I want things to happen too quickly and then get frustrated when they don’t. She is very ill, and she will get better, but it’s going to take time. Ru held me whilst I cried about it last night, and ranted and raved about the injustice of it all and the unfairness of what she goes through. And then I cried some more about the futile nature of the word “fair.”
I think it was good for me, to cry like that, I think I’ve been bottling it all up for some weeks now, and seeing her again just brought it all to the surface. I’ve felt guilty that I haven’t gone and seen her more; the money issues are real but a tiny part of me didn’t want to see her like that, it’s really hard, being in that environment again. I want to be able to do something, but there’s nothing to do- and I can’t help but remember life on a ward, and all the times Nina and I have laughed about how we managed to make it fun, and we managed to make it as good as it could be.
She’s on her own this time, and so I don’t want her to enjoy the experience at all, I don’t want her to embrace any positives of the situation. You might ask, “how could there any positives for her to embrace?” But you’d be amazed at what the mind does, at what multi-coloured and vibrant worlds it can weave to fill the space of a grey ward. I know she’s still fighting the urge to give in an follow the bright lights and the whispering voices, I could sometimes see it in her face when I asked her how she was.
So I just need to be patient, be positive, and be hopeful. Those good vibes will reach her somehow, I know they will, and then we’ll be back together again and sharing a bottle of wine, and a box of chocolates, and laughing over the horrendous, ridiculous nature of this goddam, mother-f*****G illness.