This article was originally posted on Autistic Hannah.
My experience in an NHS mental health ward with Pure O
Suffering with Pure O is a torture of the mind. You have intrusive thoughts that are the opposite of your morals. The worst things you can ever think of spring up in your mind – evoking a physical reaction of anxiety and repetition. Your brain thinks there’s a threat, a problem to solve. The cycle continues. Why? There is no problem to solve.
During 2018 I struggled extremely hard; I dropped out of university and dumped my abusive ex-boyfriend of the time. I believe these factors contributed to my breakdown.
I remember having a spark of an intrusive thought. It wouldn’t stop repeating in my head. I felt sick, anxious, and suicidal. I remember calling the Samaritans about it, and they told me to tell someone about the thoughts. In the long run, it was the worst advice to give someone with OCD, as it fed my obsessions.
So I ‘confessed’ the thoughts. I was soothed for less than a day. The feeling of anxiety and rumination was still there. I remember my brain wracking and looking for new thoughts to fuel the fire. It felt like self-sabotage. I was at the lowest point in my life.
I spent an entire week, barely eating, in my bedroom and watching youtube videos constantly to take my mind off things. I would cry, throw up, and feel so alone. I was stuck googling things, isolated, scared, and unable to figure out what I was going through.This continued for days.
One day, I woke up at 1 pm in my pyjamas. I couldn’t take it anymore. I felt extreme guilt and anxiety. I had no one to talk to. I didn’t understand what was going on. I wanted to die. I told my family I was going to the shops.
I left my house and took the bus to my nearest walk-in counsellors; I went in crying and asking if they had any open appointments.
It was weird. They didn’t seem to understand what I was going through. I was sobbing and saying I didn’t want to leave or be alone because I would do something terrible.
Much of what I said in that room was a blur. I remember the staff paying for me to take a taxi to the hospital (A&E), where there are many departments, including a ‘mental health’ one. While there, I had to wait a fair bit, but they fed me and gave me lots of drinks.
I sat around and waited for the ‘crisis team’ to come and talk to me. I am frankly disgusted by my treatment from the team. Empathy and understanding were non-existent. Instead, I was met with surveys and questionnaires I had to answer during a panic attack. They gave me medication to 'calm down.'
After doing so, the nurses told me I was okay to go home. How? I told them I was scared to go home and be in my own presence and was reaching out for help. Finally, I said I would do something to myself if I left. I was desperate.
The nurse rolled her eyes and said I was lucky that a bed was left for me. I felt so invalidated and like a burden.
I spent the night settling in, having hot chocolate and toast and lots of nurses and staff coming in to ask the same questions multiple times. I met a few other patients who were nice to me.
I was on suicide watch and couldn’t sleep as I had nurses come in every 30 minutes to check on me, flooding my room with light.
At 6 am, I was awoken for breakfast with barely any sleep. I didn’t eat it; I wandered around anxiously. I felt so lost, scared, and vulnerable.
I woke up again later and tried to eat some oreos that my family had dropped off for me. I wasn’t allowed my phone charger, but I snuck it into my room.
The anxiety had started again. The thoughts flooded my mind and I tried speaking to a nurse for help. I was ignored for an hour. I threw up, alone in my room, and was ignored. I told a nurse again, and they told me to 'take a nap.' I was left alone again.
I realised this place made me feel somehow worse, alone, and the place that’s supposed to help is doing the opposite.
My treatment was outrageous. As I checked myself in and was not detained, I told them I wanted to leave immediately and how I felt worse than when I came.
My family knew what I was going through this time, so I was picked up and taken home.
I spent the next few weeks sleeping on my sister’s floor, afraid to be left alone with my thoughts. It took months to start to heal. I started counselling once a week but decided to leave as it wasn’t helping.
Distraction and reading about Pure O helped me start to feel better. If it weren’t for my research initiative and the will to carry on, I wouldn’t be here; the mental health team failed me.