One of the action points in my care plan in some blind hope that I might be able to get a full night’s sleep naturally, was to have a warm, scented bath before bed. Now, not having a bath at home, only a shower, I loved the idea and was rather surprised that we could be unaccompanied and not, as in “Girl, Interrupted” with a nurse supervising all the time (that would kind of defeat the point of relaxing).
The afternoon nurse was too preoccupied with a returning M who wanted to pour her soul out and I was sick of waiting for her attention, so I interrupted and asked if I could have a bath that evening (M could be there for hours hogging all the care staff for herself). The nurse was short with me and in a way rightly so because I interrupted but I thought bollocks to that – if they want a private conversation, go in a private room – don’t be in the nurses’ station with the door open – it wasn’t my fault that there was only one member of staff.
Begrudgingly she ran down the corridor and unlocked the door to the bathroom and left me to it.
I decided to forget about asking for aromatherapy oils from the nurse and as the water started to flow from the taps I adjusted the temperature and found a bottle of bath oil, maybe from a past patient.
I left the water to run as I gathered fresh towels (we had a linen cupboard full of clean bedding and towels which we were allowed to help ourselves to as many times as we wanted.), my pyjamas, dotting backwards and forwards between my room and the bathroom to check the water level before finally locking myself in the bathroom and drawing the (rather flimsy) curtains. I undressed. No mirrors to check whether my love handles were expanding with all the food. Just a framed collage of bathing babies behind a panel of glass. The bath jutted out into the room rather than flush against the wall and I wondered why this was. Then I realised it was probably so that the nurses could stand either side and lift somebody out if they had tried to kill themselves (with the glass from the framed baby picture) and to be honest I had the time undisturbed and the equipment (I also had bic razors I could dismantle) had I wanted to.
As I slid into the warm water and floated there, my mind mulled over the times when in a panic attack I had contemplated exiting out of this life and the subsequent decision that I couldn’t leave my boyfriend behind , but hurting myself might just distract me from the pain of being. Why couldn’t I just “be”? Why couldn’t I be one of those people with a permanent smile and happy demeanour who embraced life, even the mundane? My mind was always restless with questions. Why did my brothers speak so cruelly too me? Why had my ex boyfriend left me because he falsely believed I had cheated on him? Why on earth did my current boyfriend want to be with me? I couldn’t find the reasons. Why had so much shit been thrown at me most of my life and why couldn't I deal with it anymore. Why couldn’t I just move on? Why?
These and other questions rolled around me head. Flashbacks of bathing at the house of the parents of my ex boyfriend while they conversed downstairs, the surprise bath J prepared for me after a particularly bad week at work (candles, scented oils – I cried), the new bathroom we’d installed at our house (ex and me) which I had loved. I couldn’t just be in the moment; I had to bring in bittersweet or bad memories.
The tears came inevitably. But I held on as my need to get out of the clinic back to J held on. I couldn’t talk to “them” right now about my fears in case they kept me in longer, which that thought outweighed the long term. It was a no-win situation. (Plus the nurse working that night was a bitch).
Maybe I was just a victim? My ex had called me that once when I slept on the floor as I refused to sleep in the same bed as him until he told me what was wrong. It was so harsh when I was so fragile and at the time (and still now) I didn’t understand how someone who says they love you and stay with you forever through thick and thin and then turn on you like that. This stayed with me and infiltrated my current relationship no matter how hard I tried not to let it. Self preservation – keep your heart wrapped up-once it’s been exposed once, kicked about and stamped on by someone you love,, its once too many.
I wasn’t sure how much longer J would put up with me. I love him but I knew I wasn’t being fair, although I would fight to the death to do anything for him. But he was not just my world, he was my guardian angel throughout my time in the clinic (and before). Patient, kind, forthright, clear and endless love and affection for me. I am so lucky.
I had taken the plunge two weeks earlier telling him about my self-harm and trying to explain about it. I knew he wouldn’t understand having not experienced such feelings but he was amazing. If he was shocked or scared he didn’t let it show just made him more determined to “be there” for me and he was in a way my ex hadn’t. So why couldn't I "get over it"?