First day of rehabilitation and detoxification
Yesterday I looked after my niece and nephew in the morning, which was lovely because they are lovely, and then I went to rehab, as I promised LC, and my psychiatrist, and my family and friends and myself that I would. It wasn’t very lovely.
The drug and alcohol service is in the big, old, oversubscribed, under-staffed psychiatric ward that I used to go to from the ages of 12 to 18. I came here for an assessment last August and again in February. Every time I walk to this place, which I will just call The Unit, I think to myself,
“Here again. I’m here, again. I hoped last time would be the last time.”
It’s a depressing walk, sneaking around the edges of the “proper” hospital buildings, down, down, down, past the industrial bins and the delivery lorries, past the buildings which have long-been closed, all the way to the back corner of the hospital grounds to the dilapidated 4 story Victorian building.
It’s intimidating because it’s sort of sheltered by weeping willows so you can’t see just how big and horrible the place is until you’re right on the doorstep, where there are weeping human beings sheltering outside, chain-smoking and muttering. Apart from the elevators, I don’t think this building has had any work done since the 50s. It’s a shithole.
And all the best and worst people in north London end up here. And here I am, again.
I walked straight in to the rehab centre and said, melodramatically,
“I SURRENDER! TAKE ME! TAKE ME, BEFORE I CHANGE MY MIND!”
and then one of my old support workers was there, half-laughing, half-terrified. He told me to pipe down and opened the security doors for me, then made sure they were locked behind me and he disappeared.
The waiting room for patients is different to the waiting room for visitors. The former is exactly as shite as you’d imagine it to be. Bog-standard NHS: posters on the walls for groups that are no longer running, helpline advertisements for numbers that don’t exist anymore, an empty water dispenser languishing tragically on its side on the sticky lino floor, some out-of-date milk on the counter left out to congeal, a free-standing fan which was switched on full-blast but pointed (pointlessly pointed) at a wall, a wall that was furiously shedding its stale off-white paint, mismatched chairs strewn haphazardly about, iron bars across the window. The visitors waiting room is not like that.
I sighed. Here again. I ignored everyone and swiftly turned off the tap at the sink in the corner which was spewing boiling hot water out but that nobody, not a single one of the 8 patients in the room, or staff who collect them, had thought to turn off. I was scared of the men in the waiting room who were shouting in Turkish. I thought they were talking about me but I couldn’t understand so I just picked at the skin around my thumbnail until it bled. I think the claret dripping down my thumb was the brightest thing in the room.
After staring into space for 20 minutes or so, I was kidnapped by a sweet young lady called JP – she had to do the preliminary check-in with me. She told me she was on overtime and should’ve left half an hour ago, but that she was “interested in my case” and she worked with 18-25 year old women when she was a psych nurse. I told her there’d be plenty of info on me on the psych service computer system which she could assume to be correct. She said
“Sorry, we need to go through everything again I’m afraid, sorry.”
I decided that I couldn’t be bothered for this. I was very short with her. Snappy. Uncooperative. Tearful. Unhelpful. Most of her questions I couldn’t answer because I don’t remember what the answers are, and I just couldn’t remember anything, so she didn’t get much of the information she needed. I was tired. JP said,
“Look hun, we’re really short-staffed today and it’s getting late, we’re closing soon and I have to head off now; can I call you tomorrow?”
and I said no I don’t talk on the phone to people who I don’t know, and she said Oh. She said that I’m a “high-risk patient” (quelle fucking surprise) and she said that I have to come back the next day (13/10). She said that if I am not here by midday tomorrow, she will phone me, and if I don’t answer, she will contact my mental health team and get them to “find me.” I said yes, ok, I would like to go to sleep now so I will see you tomorrow, and she suddenly got very worried about the possibility of me never returning, and she was actually visibly stressing about me, so she made me pinky promise, and she was actually very nice in the end and I felt bad for being unhelpful, and she said,
“You can be helped. I will see to it that you get the help you need. I just need you to stay alive and come back here tomorrow.”
And then I cried and she gave me a hug and I apologised for being a dick and left the Unit, via the waiting room for visitors (that’s how I know it’s nice).
It was really cold when I got outside because it was dark and windy and I wasn’t wearing suitable clothes. I walked a different way to the way I usually go, hoping that it would be quicker, and I thought,
“Hmm I don’t know anyone in this area, I could go to a pub here and have a glass of wine and nobody would ever know except me and the good Lord…”
and as I walked along this street I discovered that the nearest pub to rehab is called The Change of Hart. And I laughed and laughed and laughed because I was too cold and tired to cry and, anyway, I love cruel twists of irony as much as the next person.