Bipolar Affective Disorder · Inpatient Treatment · Mania

Cracked ice

So the ice cracked.

It was inevitable, really, if I’m being honest with myself.

Six days before Christmas I meet with my therapist. Although we’d formally finished sessions before I moved to uni back in September, she’d kept my case open for ‘review’ sessions. So when I came back home for Christmas, we’d arranged for a session to catch up and see how things were going. I had whole hearted intentions of going in and telling her just how great I’d been doing, how much I was enjoying uni. But when she asked me how I was, I burst into tears. And didn’t stop until I left, well over an hour later.

Three months of pent up emotions came spilling out. She pointed out that it was safe with her, that it was ok to let it out. She asked if she could take me over to the ward. I said nope, no way, I absolutely cannot go back there.

So she rings my old CMHT, who I am no longer under now that I’ve moved areas, who speak to one of the psychiatrists I know, who says he wants me assessed. I am told my old CPN will be in touch later. I spend the afternoon with my aunt, waiting for my phone to go off. I feel sick.

Five days before Christmas. My assessment with the consultant. He says I am hypo rather than manic, but do we treat this in hospital or at home? He asks if I would consider hospital, given that I got on well there before. I say nope, no way, I absolutely cannot go back there. So he says if we are going to do this at home, we need to get my mum involved so she can ‘support’ me. I beg him not to tell her about the lithium. Reluctantly, he agrees, but asks me not to put him in a position where he’ll have to. I will meet with my old CPN the next day. We’ve got 3.5 weeks to turn this around, which is plenty of time if we start back on the meds.

Four days before Christmas. I see my CPN. She says I need to be in hospital. I say nope, no way, I absolutely cannot go back there. She is there, another CPN is there, and a lady from the (new) crisis team is there. They tell me not to put them in a position where they will have to start signing papers.

Four days before Christmas. I arrive (voluntarily) on the ward. I chirp away to the nurses, my mum and sister there too. When they leave, the nurse says ‘Alice, what happened’. And I burst into tears and I say ‘I’m fucking everything up’, and she takes me by the shoulders and says ‘you’re not. you’re not fucking anything up’.

Four days before Christmas. The IP consultant spots me in the TV room, sticks his head around the door and asks if we could have a wee chat. I say ‘Dr X, I’d really rather not.’ The lecture I’m expecting does not come. He says there are dysphoric elements to the high this time. A mixed affective state.

I begin to unpack my things, jabbering away to the nurse that admitted me. I spin round and there is one of my favourite nurses, one of the ones who gives a good bollocking when I need it. ‘Oh shit’. ‘I’m just going to give you a hug’, she says. And she does.


Things have been hectic since. I was given three nights leave in total over the Christmas period, returning each day to the ward to be reassessed. As it happens, it was too much too soon, and I struggled a lot and made poor decisions on my third nights leave.

Last night I was told by my favourite nurse- my ‘ward mummy’ as the other staff called her last time I was in- that I need to sort myself out or I’m going to lose everything. I was told the same thing this morning by two other nurses. I argue that I’ve been med compliant. They point out that it’s been reluctant compliance- so how will I cope back at uni. The IP consultant said he will be informing occupational health and all the nurses have expressed concern that I will either lose my place at uni, or jump back into it too soon and relapse again.

Things have been up, down, sidewards, all over the place. The past few days have been fast, ‘up fast’, rather than the ‘down fast’ it’s been. Stretching beyond happy hypo and into pleasebrainjustshutthefuckup kind of fast. Truthfully, I want it all to stop- whatever that means.

I can see that now. It always hits a point where it gets too much, it stops being fun and I get swept up by the tornado, spun round, chewed and spit back out, still spinning. I’ve had enough. I just want a good nights sleep and to stop jigging.

Tonight I was allowed out for a Chinese with my parents, and just as I was leaving, my favourite nurse was coming in. She told me to stop jigging because I was making her nervous, asked me how I expected to take blood as a nurse if I was jigging so much and told me I could stay out to half past midnight to celebrate NYE with my parents- under strict warning that I am absolutelynowaywhatsoever allowed to have any Malibu. So thanks to the consultant deciding it was important I get to spend Christmas with my family, and my favourite nurse being fab and bending the rules so I can greet midnight at home, spending the holiday period in hospital hasn’t been quite as depressing as I’d feared when I arrived on the ward a week and a half ago.

This morning, another patient told me she’d overheard what the nurses were saying to me while I was getting medication and she was waiting outside the room. She said it sounded like they were giving me a right bollocking, that they were being really harsh. I told her I needed it though.

And I do. I am so, so, so grateful for the nurses on the ward, for their tough love approach and good banter. As always with this illness, insight comes and goes, and while there are times I can *rationally* recognise and accept the consequences of things like medication non-compliance, I can’t fit those rationals into reality. My sick brain and rational brain fight, and I kind of think ‘sure, I’ll be grand- it’ll not actually happen’. So I am grateful for the nurses for warning me that it will. For asking me to trust them if I can’t see it myself.

So that’s what I’m trying to do. Again, I am having to put my trust into those around me, until I can see things clearly again.



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