This story is over 5 years old.

The Mentally Ill Issue

Up In Smoke

The strongest nurse put me in a headlock while the rest grabbed my legs and arms and, as they call it, "restrained" me.
Κείμενο FEMI

Photo by Alex Sturrock

Mental health is a very tricky phenomenon. The reason I say this is because it is a thing the average person doesn't know much about. I was the same until it happened to me about 10 years ago when I first put a spliff in my mouth. I guess you could call me an aspiring athelete until I had to get knee surgery and I stopped training and started getting into weed. I must say that I still remember my first experience of the feeling of the high. Funnily enough, I never started with a spliff. I started with the bucket. For those that don't know, the bucket is half a bucket of water and an empty plastic 1.5 litre bottle with the bottom cut out with a piece of perforated foil making a kind of gauze. Then you have a lighter and some weed and the rest you can work out yourself. As time went on, the more weed I smoked and the stronger the weed got. I moved from bush weed to skunk. And this is where my story starts with my journey in to the mental health world. In late 2000, while everyone was still buzzing about the millennium, I was at university studying herbal medicine. I know what you're thinking: "Herbal medicine eh, Femi?" Yeah, that's what springs to mind when I first tell anyone. My first unusual experience was I started to see my own aura and see energy moving. Most people don't believe in stuff like that. The next thing that happened is I started to see what energy looked like. The only way I can describe it is if you spray an aerosol can and look at the spray carefully as it moves through the air. Energy is like smaller particles that move very fast. This really intrigued me, so I smoked more and more skunk and started meditating. As time progressed I started to become more "wary" and found myself analysing everything. Before I knew it I was watching TV and it was as if the things I was analysing were connected to the programmes on TV.   It was as if I was communicating with the TV, as if the people in my life at the time were in some sort of conspiracy. The more I smoked the more I watched TV the more out of touch with reality I became and the more paranoid I became. The more paranoid I became the less I slept and the more frightened I became. It did not help that I was far away from home and I saw everyone as a potential threat to my well-being. By autumn my friend was concerned and called my family and my mother came and took me back to London. When I reached London my mother was really concerned about me. She took me to see my GP. When I went to sleep she called a doctor who said she should take me to a psychiatric hospital. I didn't know this at the time. When we reached the hospital and I realised what was going on I ran and caught a cab and went back to my mum's. By the time I got there, police were waiting to take me back to the hospital. I was then placed on a Section 2 which is 28 days observation. By the Thursday I couldn't take being around people with mental problems. I was scared for my life so I packed my bags and headed for the exit. It was an open ward so the front door wasn't locked; it is today. As I approached the door to make my getaway a male nurse stopped me and asked were I was going. Home, I said, and he grabbed my wrist. Before I knew it all the male nurses ran into the ward. They're known as rapid response. The strongest nurse put me in a headlock while the rest grabbed my legs and arms and, as they call it, "restrained" me. I was then transferred to a locked ward and put in a seclusion room which consists of a rubber bed. A "guard" (nurse) watches you and writes down everything you do. They eventually let me out at night. The next day I saw a psychiatrist who asked me questions. I told him what I was going through and in a 10 minute session known as a ward round, he labelled me a paraniod schizophrenic. You see, because I thought I was gonna die I was labelled paranoid and because I was buzzing and mentioned the TV communicating with me I was a schizophrenic. I was forced to take Italperadol, an old school anti-psychotic, and Olanzapine, a new school anti-psychotic. The old school anti-psychotic has terrible side effects. For example, the first thing I remember is as if the left side of me shut down, then the muscle spasms started in my neck, tongue, toes, arms and I got tremors as if I had Parkinson's disease. For a year I had problems with movement in my neck. By the fourth day I was drooling and had almost no movement in my body. I was a zombie after 28 days. I was then transferred back to the open ward After a while I was given home leave, which is when you go home and report to the doctor. This carries on until you're discharged. I was given a social worker to monitor me. This was my first experience of the mental health system. I used to have lots of friends; well, I was their friend, they weren't mine. I had low self-esteem and I was house-bound. Eventually I stopped taking the medication and started smoking skunk again. I was re-admitted and placed on sections. Section 3 is for six months and can be renewed every six months. But I never accepted having an illness and I carried on with my life. I can tell you many stories I've heard while locked up and my own experience of being stereotyped because of the label. In four years I've been sectioned five times over things like playing loud music, people saying they saw me walking naked in my estate, and even more bullshit than that. You see, once you're labelled no one believes what you say—and I'm talking about the professionals. I eventually stopped smoking skunk and now I'm back at college studying homeopathy. The reason I've written this is because most of the people I met in institutions were addicts of one form or another. I believe that I was burnt out and smoking didn't help. I've met doctors, lawyers, dealers and prostitutes all with drug-related illnesses. My advice? If you do drugs try and stop. Or do it in moderation. I hope I have given you an insight into the world of the so-called insane. FEMI