As the afternoon dragged on relations between my sister and myself improved. We talked about what my sister needed to make sure that I felt safe at home. She wanted me under supervision at all times, at least for the next couple of weeks until I no longer wanted to kill myself. Since this has been going on for the past twelve years I fail to see how I can solve this problem in two weeks, but I wasn’t going to blurt that out when freedom was nearly at hand.
As we waited the afternoon nurses began to come on shift, and the nurse assigned to me was obviously concerned that they were thinking about sending me home after one day. She sat down and we talked for about half an hour. She was one of the more senior nurses and she seemed nice, but her lips were pursed for most of the conversation and I had trouble getting her to smile. My sister had brought me the book I was reading and my nurse asked to see it. It was an 18th century travel book written by Robert Louis Stevenson. She read the blurb and commented that she once read a book about travelling through Spain on a donkey. Interesting if true.
Despite failing to win over either of my nurses or my sister (who is also a nurse) I was still confident of getting sent home. Finally, at 3:30pm, I met with the senior psychiatrist, Doctor SH, my morning nurse, my afternoon and Sister 1.
Doctor SH had to skip the first part of the meeting due to other commitments but most of it he had already heard. I ran the senior psychiatrist, Doctor SUN, through the story so far and her conclusion was the same as that of Doctor SH. They both agreed that the medication probably wasn’t helping me and since it was such a long term problem and I was functioning so highly it’s possible that it wouldn’t work at all. That was great news! Since I had come off the medication I felt a lot better. I felt my motivation increase and I was a lot more comfortable in myself – even my sex drive appeared to have returned (did I mention that Doctor SUN had great legs?).
It was all going very well with the doctors however all three nurses looked very uncomfortable. Part of that was because Doctor SUN was potentially crazier than I was and I got the feeling she wasn’t well liked within the ward. I was asked what had changed between the time I tried to kill myself and right then. I very vaguely explained that I had made a mistake and was willing to try again – I was careful not to lie at this stage. The doctors both seemed to buy this, but the nurses remained silent. I believe doctors only see the illness and they fail to see the person underneath. Nurses are at the front line of human despair and they are able to discern people’s character very quickly. All three of those nurses knew I was holding something back, but all three were kept in check by the doctors’ authority. At least until it was my sister’s turn to speak.
“Well I’m not happy about this at all”, she started,” He’s been lying to me. He hasn’t changed! When he gets into those moods he won’t reach out, he won’t answer his phone, he just walks off without telling anybody what’s going on”
“Who I am going to tell? There’s nobody that understands. I told you before that I can’t trust you, or anybody around me”, I interjected. The doctors began to stir and I reminded myself to take it easy.
The doctors pressed my sister for more information. All of a sudden she had begun to look like the crazy one. They reassured her that I had told them why I missed the appointment and that I was willing to make another effort. They explained to her that I recognised my drinking was a factor in my depressive swings and that I was willing to seek help.
“Well, the whisky won’t be a problem anymore”, she glanced sideways at me. I knew exactly what that meant. I had already drunk the majority of my single malts because I was trying to clear out my booze shelf. I did a quick mental calculation of the remaining stock of whisky.
“Sister 1…”, I bit my tongue and turned my head to the side momentarily,” please don’t tell me you threw it out. That’s $300 worth of whisky. Please don’t tell me you threw it out”, my voice quaked as I attempted to keep the volume from rising.
“The girls were going to, but I stopped them. It’s safe, but you’re not getting it back”, she said calmly. I was relieved to hear that it hadn’t been poured down the drain. I was only really concerned about the Limeburners – that whisky is still only in limited release.
The conversation continued and at times digressed into a conversation between my sister and myself. We were both trying not to yell at each other in front of the doctors. My sister agreed with me that I was better off being at home, but she just wanted me in the safest place possible. I understood that, but the fear of being trapped in the hospital made me a little testy.
In the end Doctor SUN stepped in and explained the options available to her courtesy of the Medical Act. My sister already knew them, and I had a rough idea that the hospital was able to keep me there against my will I just didn’t know what the legislation was. My sister and I went through the options we discussed. Most of the options she wanted weren’t available. Home visits, outpatient therapy and so forth. In the end only a telephone conferencing service in the social work department was available. The rest was down to being supervised while I was at home.
Doctor SUN explained that she was inches away from invoking the Medical Act and my sister’s face was downtrodden. Later she would tell me that this was the hardest decision of her life to date. She believed the hospital was the safest place for me, but she also believed that if she abandoned me then I would never forgive her. To ask somebody to choose between the life of their loved one or the affection of their loved one is a terrible thing to do – but that was exactly the situation that I had forced her to be in. My own selfishness and fear wouldn’t allow me to back down, and I was terrified as I watched the events unfold.
My sister explained that she would need to consult my housemates before she could bring me home. I had almost forgotten about Housemates A and B. When my sister brought my clothes to the hospital they had both written messages to me.
I was so worried about you today. I am so glad that you are ok. I really don’t know what to say but I want you to know that I am here for you and i value your friendship. Please know that you are not alone. There are people who care greatly for you.
I will be praying for you. Please keep believing that things will get better. I know you have had years of pain and I can’t imagine what it’s been like but there is hope. You will come out of the other side of this dark patch. I am praying that God will be your strength.
There is hope Matt, things will be different.
Love Housemate A (your friend)
Ps. I’ll look after your girls J
I was so glad to see you today – it would be so sad to see you do anything to hurt yourself. I know you are in so much pain right now but I want you to know that I – and many other – love you and would like to do anything I/we can to help.
There ARE things that can help Matt, and I know because I’ve been where you are.
Even when you feel alone, you’re not really, because we all care about you and want to be there for you.
I hope I can see you soon. I am praying for you and you know I’m only a phone call or a message away Matt
Love Housemate B
As much as those messages meant to me they were addressed to somebody in a hospital bed. Coming home meant something different, and I wasn’t sure if they would accept me. My sister left the room to call them to ask how they felt about me coming home. I had another chat with the two doctors, and my other two nurses remained very stern.
When my sister returned she informed us that my housemates had agreed to allow me to return home. She said they were nervous but they wanted me to come home. My sister agreed to take medico legal responsibility. It meant that she was responsible if I killed myself. It was too late in the afternoon for me to be officially discharged but they agreed to let me go overnight providing I returned the next day for a meeting with a psychologist.
I still don’t know how to express what I felt that afternoon. I was relieved to be going home, but I was humbled by the actions of the people around me. It was the most loved I have ever felt.