A Minute of Failure
Posted by amyc
5th Nov 2012

A minute of failure can lead to a lot of pain. Just that split second where you make a bad decision can cause a massive fall out. I self harmed last week. It was a snap impulsive decision that has had pretty frustrating consequences for me. I self harmed as I was suffering from visual hallucinations, which are very scary and I often can't differentiate them from reality although I am working on trying to use grounding techniques to make this easier for me. Some grounding techniques I find useful for hallucinations and flashbacks are... Mainly simple ones, such as pressing my feet into the ground, or crossing my arms and legs and experiencing the feeling of being in control of my body, or moisturising all over concentrating on what it feels like, if I am standing sit down, and if I am sitting stand, listing what is in the room around me in my head so I am aware of my real surroundings not what my surroundings in my flashbacks or hallucinations are and finally I use taking my pulse at my wrist and feeling the sensation of blood going around my body. They are not foolproof answers to the distress hallucinations and flashbacks cause but they can help to alleviate the distress by helping ground you more in reality. 

However last week things got too much for me and I exploded. A combination of a bad time of year, bottled up feelings of sadness, fear and hopelessness, as well as shed loads of frustration coerced into the action of self harm by seeing the man who abused me as a child stand in the corner of every room I enter which terrifies me and the flashbacks make me think I'm back in the situation I was in all those years ago which is very difficult. I think PTSD is a very cruel illness making you relive over and over again what has already happened once, and been traumatic enough to leave you ill in the first place. A minute of failure, a minute of complete loss of reality and a minute it took to cause myself pain and damage which would require treatment at hospital. If only I could turn back the clock and change what I had done, but hindsight is a beautiful thing. 

If only I had been able to put a minute of reasoning into the situation, a gap between the thought and the action. I wish I could have STOPPED and thought about things rather than just acting on the urge. I wish there had been a dam in my brain, rather than the tidal wave that took over. However do you know what the most annoying thing is for me now....(I'm an inpatient at a specialist psychiatric unit) it is not that I have had my room stripped and lost my leave for two weeks.... It is the fact that the team here will now focus wholly on the error of my ways, on the incident of self harm (and the consequent abscondtion from Accident and Emergency) they will not think about all the times everyday I win a battle with a flashback or fight my demon in the corner. They will not consider the amount of times I have turned down the invitation from my head to self harm or run away. They will not congratulate me on only have three incidents in thirty one days, they will see only the negative, they will only have concern and anxiety in their minds. They will delay transfers, push back home leaves, increase and add medications, and my tribunals will be lost not won. 

When you look holistically at my last month, from the perspective that I was having serious incidents every other day before I was admitted here, even whilst in hospital, you would see I have actually done really well. Attending groups, being a lot more honest in ward rounds and therapy, complying with a depot medication which goes against every shred of my wishes, staying safe on leave. OK so there have been a few strops and emotional outbursts, but I defy anyone of those professionals to live in the environment I do and not have a few minutes of failure, even without the diagnosis of a mental health problem. 

You are told when to wake, when to eat, sleep, take medication, when to do groups, when to take leave, when to dress, when to use your phone or more importantly when to hand it in, when to see doctors and when to see visitors. Virtually all your choice is taken away about anything, autonomy does not figure, particularly when you are sectioned like myself. I defy the consultant to live here and not have a rant about one thing or another. Being in hospital, although very beneficial at times can also lead to patients having to deny their own feelings (frustration, hopelessness, depression at their situation) in order to achieve discharge it is very much a catch twenty two. Particularly on units like mine that are very boundaried about various things. It is hard to keep unwell adults in that kind of environment. They should forgive a minute of failure, and look upon them with understanding, sometimes being OK one thousand four hundred and forty minutes a day is just too tough, and one minute of failure is just how it is. 

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