It was a day I will never forget in a hurry; it will be forever etched on my brain. I was an inpatient in an acute psychiatric ward. I was meant to be in a place of safety, or so I thought. On this particular distressing and potentially life-changing evening, I can recall being perched on the end of my bed, with tears rolling down my face. I felt so alone and isolated; I wanted to scream out for help, but I did not know how to. You would think it would be easy, after all, you just have to open your mouth and talk. However, in reality, this is very hard if you are not used to it.
I wiped away another tear; I thought to myself, this would be the last tear I would shed. My irrational thought process went into overdrive. The hurt, the pain, it was too much to bear. I was dying, but dying from the inside. There is only so much a person can take. We all have a breaking point, and I found mine. I had the perfect opportunity. I had unescorted leave, from the hospital; my thought process went into overdrive. I could hear the cogs turning in my very troubled and emotionally damaged head.
I had come to a hard and final decision, and that decision was to end it. I wanted to take my own life. I was not thinking like a rational person, I just wanted to end my pain and suffering. I knew that I was already in hell, so it could not get any worse. I plucked up the courage, got off my bed and then began frantically rummaging around my hospital bedroom. I found something that resembled a pen and paper; this was because I wanted to pen a suicide note to my family. I have spent some time on this, all of my built-up emotions went into this note. The note went on to explain, how deeply sorry I was for the hurt, pain and embarrassment that I had caused and, felt there was no other way out. The note went on to say, how much I was hurting, the pain that I was feeling, deep down inside my head, and how I had reached my breaking point. This was not an easy note to write. I was not thinking of the implications, I know it sounds, poor me, but when you have reached your breaking point, there is nothing else you can say.
All I wanted was the pain to end. No more suffering. I could feel the tears rolling down my cheeks and occasionally I had to wipe them away. The tears eventually began to drip onto my suicide note, smudging the ink, right around the point, where I began to explain to my twelve-year-old nephew, how I would dearly miss him, and how proud I am of him, and it further went on to say, I know he will grow up to be a strong man with good principles, and not to be too disappointed with his Uncle Dom, and that your Uncle Dominic was at peace and no longer in pain. It finally finished by asking my nephew to look after his mum. My hands were shaking uncontrollably. My face was full of tears, they were warm.
I calmly put the note on my bed, wiped away the tears, waited a few minutes, and I finally plucked up the courage and asked the nurse in charge of the ward to leave to the local shop. I felt numb; I was in self destruct mode. From then on, all my thoughts were negative ones. I did not think of the ramifications of my actions. I only had one thing on my mind, and that was death, a permanent end to my suffering. I was more determined to end my continuous torturous suffering. Enough is enough. I could not stop the negativity bombarding my thoughts. The more negative the thoughts, the more I was determined; I was to end it in the most gruesome way imaginable. I will not go into detail, however, if it was not for the brave Police Officer who went above and beyond his call of duty, my life and the life of others would be so different today. I owe special gratitude to the Police officer, and the tremendous courage that he showed; this officer saved countless lives that day.
After being talked down, by the Police officer, I was taken to the nearest mental health 136 suite, for emergency assessment, which I subsequently spent seven months, before being transferred to a Hospital, in Barnsley for specialist mental health treatment.
The journey went without any hitches, nearly a straight run. As we approached the main gate to the new hospital, my thought process went into overload. My first distinctive thought was why I am here, followed by another, for intense therapy you idiot. When I initially arrived at the lodge, it was like walking into the abyss. I am six foot four inches, but I was still scared, it’s the unknown, an alien environment. I was not in control and was on a downward spiral, with no goals or future aspirations in life.
My thoughts and emotions were all over the place. It’s a strange feeling. You can be surrounded by lots of people, but you can still be very lonely inside? It’s strange, but a real feeling nevertheless. I was shown to my room. It looked warm and inviting, but at the same time, very clinical. Before I knew it, my therapy program had commenced. I emerged myself in all the activities that the OT department offered me. I particularly liked the walks in the countryside, and the list could go on. Psychology, well that was a different kettle of fish. I needed psychology, and if done effectively, psychology does work, but for psychology to work, you have to put your trust in the psychologist, and then you can start to build a rapport.
To benefit from any form of psychology, you have to be very open and honest. If I am being honest, I found that exercise extremely hard. From my own experiences, I grew up not trusting people, and especially those in authority. Trusting people was a sign of weakness, however, my psychologist, persevered and eventually managed to chip away at my shutters. I needed someone like my psychologist in my corner. The type of psychological treatment that I was receiving is called schema therapy.
Schema therapy is hard, I am not denying it, but you have to work through the pain, emotions are and will be stirred up, the negative memories I had suppressed for many years, came to the surface. My psychologist taught me many things, and now I am achieving many of my goals. I have left the Oaks. Psychology has been an important part of my life, and what lessons I have learned from my psychologist, I will enjoy putting into practice. I know that I will face many prejudices, when back in society; however, I will relish the challenges.
Failure is not an option. I now see rejection, not as a negative, but as a positive. You can always change or challenge negativity, and then turn it into a positive. These were taught to me by many wise people at the Oaks. That person, who first entered Cygnet Oaks, a couple of years ago is now leaving with a positive outlook on life, and is looking forward to a brighter future, and is embracing the challenges ahead. I will be forever indebted to all the hard work and perseverance of the staff at the Oaks.
Dominic Barrett is a mental health advocate.