Me: You don’t know what you’re doing.
Me: I know what I’m doing, leave me be.
Me: What’re you doing?
Me: Well… blogging?
Me: But what exactly are you doing?
Me: I’m writing a post about something I wanted to write about for a long time but was afraid to.
Me: Oh. So you know what you’re doing. And how are you feeling about what you’re doing?
Me: I don’t know. You tell me.
It was the late spring of 2007 when I was admitted to a psychiatric ward to be given help. I was 14, weighed some 29 kilos, and didn’t want that help. Though some part of me must’ve known I needed it because, after all, I signed the admittance papers without being forced.
I had a vague idea of what an adults’ psychiatric ward looks like, but I had absolutely no clue as to what to expect when I entered one for children and teens under 16. In fact, I didn’t even know such wards exist.
I quickly learned that, in a place like that, you can expect everything. My own experience of living there included both good things, like friendship and fun, and things that became my worst nightmares: loneliness, and subjection to violence.
From the point of view of medical help, I knew from the start that this would mainly consist in getting me to eat. I was diagnosed with anorexia nervosa, so that was the whole point of keeping me there: make out of me a healthy 40 kilos of body.
If I’d known better and expected to get some psychological help in addition, I’d be heavily disappointed. I saw two psychologists in total, and had two conversations with them, in total. The obligation to write something into the documentation was fulfilled, my need of help – regardless of the fact I didn’t consciously expect psychological help – was not.
It was summer, okay? The professional staff has to have some time off, right? You can’t reasonably expect a psychiatric ward to have at least one psychologist on board at every time of year, can you?
Plus, you got the right pills and tons of food to rebuild your body, so what’s wrong?
But something was wrong long after my release. In fact, I realized only very recently that the treatment I got was really no treatment. With all the staff assuming that “I hate food and want to get thinner” — which is the common understanding of anorexia — and no one asking me why I don’t eat, or anything, I could forget about health.
Physical health is just a point in the overall definition of health, and if you’re mentally ill, and if no one cares to, or knows how to help you with that — or if they’re on vacation! — your overall health inevitably suffers.
Mine was lousy for years; the sound of insanity made itself heard in my head every so often, calling to me: “but you should die, girl,” and I didn’t even know it had anything to do with the fact there wasn’t a right doctor around when I needed them.
My disappointment with psychological help turned out to be a thing to be overcome, though. I found someone who listens, a psychotherapist, and she’s helping me.
With her, I’m learning one of the greatest arts one can learn: the art of listening, even though it’s me who talks during the sessions. I’m learning to listen to myself more attentively and wisely, and with that slowly mounting ability, slowly comes another: the ability to listen to others.
This wasn’t meant to be an advertisement of psychotherapy, nor a post disparaging service in psychiatric wards in Poland eight years back. I guess by now it is both, anyway, but really, all I wanted to do was share…
Me: You wanted to say, overshare.
Me: Yeah… maybe… I don’t know. Stop talking to yourself!