I am just beginning to realise how institutionalised I had become. I am finding the ‘normal’ world a scary place. It speaks a language that I don’t really understand. I am comfortable in terms of CPAs and meal plans; supervision, bloods and BMIs. I know where I am with meds, and ward rounds, and care co-ordinators, and agency staff at the weekend –
It’s the stuff that everyone else talks about that I find harder to get the hang of.
It has been several years since my last inpatient admission. I have moved on, a million miles, and life is far far better – and yet, sometimes, when I’m wrestling with the uncertainty or watching the world from behind a glass screen, I can hear, in the background, the hospital hum and the once familiar voices – and I long to turn around.
I miss the predictability – and the security – and a way of being that I had come to comprehend.
It is a little unexpected – this perverse yearning – given how unpleasant most of the experiences were. It is somewhat ironic that the containment appeals, after I fought so hard to be free. Only, it is the outline that remains, rather than the painful details; and the impression of belonging that I am hankering for, because the silence feels so alone.
So, there’s a subtle side-stepping, at the moment, towards a more ‘normal’ way of being, with responsibilities, and expectations, and a routine that is not structured around three meals, two snacks, something that passes for therapy – and then bed. And, I am having to learn – in reverse – where the line needs to be drawn; because after breaking everything down to get to the root of things, I’m building it all up again to operate in this unfamiliar space -
The rules of engagement are different in the real world, and the stuff that it took me so long to make sense of is no longer appropriate to be said.
So, I am doing a bit of re-orientation, (because I didn’t realise that one foot was still stuck in a hospital ward); and, I am appreciating that there’s a certain disjoint between a head that’s been through a decade of therapy, and one that just takes the world as read –
Which is not a reason to go backwards.
It’s just that I hadn’t realised just how institutionalised I had become; nor how the backdrop of wake up calls – and hospital sheets – and the cloying smell of antiseptic had lingered into today.
And, I hadn’t paused, until this painful awakening, to acknowledge how un-nerving I am finding life without rules, and structures, and systems that I might have fought violently against -
But were, at least, far easier to understand.