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15 Jun 2022, by Jessica

Can I have a hug?

Mental health writer Jessica shares another extract from her memoir in progress named “Stark Raving” about her experiences with psychosis.

On my first night, I escaped from the hospital.

I told them very simply that I knew they were actors and that none of it was real. I abandoned the cheese and onion sandwich and lukewarm tea they’d left out for me – even though I was so hungry my stomach was gurgling and so thirsty my throat was dry. I picked up my rollie suitcase like I was about to embark on an adventure and I lolloped out of there like I didn’t have a care in the world.

I walked through a forest near the hospital. Down a dark alley surrounded by trees. And I started to worry what was in the trees. I imagined giant monsters jumping out at me, or even scarier: humans with malintent hiding in there.

And so, near a road name that had Swallows in the title, I called them back and told them where I was.

The police surrounded me and sat on the ground with me as I smoked a cigarette and tried to prove to me that they were real. One of them lit their own cigarette, sat next to me, and they convinced me to get into the ambulance.

These stories of my descent into unreality, they seem larger than life – and yet, they are my truth.

When I got to hospital that night I told the doctor that I thought I was in a reality TV show and then he dropped me off with a nurse who showed me my room – which was not unlike a no frills Travelodge.

As the nurse left me with my belongings and my tears, I asked him: “Can I have a hug?”

He shook his head. Nurses aren’t allowed to hug you.

He shut the door.

I cried, hugging my cuddly toy bunny and feeling like the world had ended.

I had not had a good day.

As well as writing for charities, you can also find me on Twitter @lifeinunreality and on my blog

You can read part 1 of Jessica’s story in The Retreat

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