What does one pack to stay in a lunatic asylum?
The answer all though you may think simple is actually a recipe for disaster.
Let us examine the evidence.
Your head is west, your soul east, your mind north, and your boobs, as always… pointing south.
Couple this with having to put ones case together in the dark to avoid waking and therefore sobbing all over a small boy you are not sure you should leave, not actually wanting to go, a hefty amount of denial that anything is wrong with you in the first place (other than being a drama queen) and you quite literally have created a situation that I would have to liken to letting go of a social hand grenade in a heavily populated crazy house.
Also, let us not forget you are still two stone heavier than you believe you are and the climate has been temperamental to say the least.
Are you dying to know what I brought?
I honestly was.
I had absolutely no recollection of packing at all and was shocked to see the sheer volume of luggage waiting for me, piled dangerously on the single bed when I arrived in to my room.
2 heaving pale pink mucky rucksacks, one snowboard sized (body bag felt a little inappropriate an adjective here) sports bag, a bursting glittery river island ‘hand bag’ (Aka cargo carrier) and the age old and ever present plastic Aldi bag (you can take the girl out of Eccles…) were all sat anticipating my arrival.
‘Are these the bags you packed Lexy?’
I walk towards them slowly trying to banish thoughts of running home and back in to the arms of the Irish one and Baby Woo. This is too strange a place. My head is too strange a place. I do not live here. I do not know if these are the bags I packed.
But I must have done.
‘I think so yes’ I whisper, moving over to the window and looking outside. Completely lost and yet feeling a little bit found.
‘Ok honey,’ the young nurse continues kindly from behind me ‘are you ready for your bag search?’
‘Bag search?’ I gasp turning around, my breath catching in my throat, my heart beginning to hammer in my chest.
‘Yes, we have to check your bags to ensure you have brought only relevant items, this may seem a little over the top but I am sure you can understand’ she declares snapping on a pair of plastic gloves and looking nervously at the mountain of crap still piled precariously on the bed.
Flashbacks of the night previous scream through my subconscious mingled in with movie stills from Sandra Bullock in 28 days. (Jeremiah was a bullfrog….)
What the hell did I pack??
I am struggling to separate the two mangled thought patterns when a single memory pushes to the forefront of my mind and my bowels audibly turn over in a fit of horror.
Please tell me that in my fog induced state, I haven’t packed my dildo.
Wading through my muddy memory banks trying to recall the last time I saw my neon pink rampant rabbit, a man walks in to the room and I almost pass out.
‘I hope it is ok Lexy but I need to be here to process everything too, it shouldn’t take long and then we can leave you to make yourself at home…’ Nick the ward manager fiddles with his handle bar tash and feels out behind him for a chair.
‘Ok, no problem’ I whisper praying my bowels don’t release all over the floor and hopping from one foot to the next.
There is a lot to be said for ‘living in the moment’ but to be honest at this point; dying in the moment seems more applicable.
Trying to vanquish thoughts of Nick in leather chaps from my mind (it’s the tash, I keep wanting to call him Kenneth,) I turn towards the window, leaving my back to the room. My very own metaphorical escape attempt, and believe me, this is the kind of room, led to by a deserted and lonely corridor, you would really want to escape from at the best of times nevermind when you have the cast of ‘carry on the crazy’ stuffed in there struggling for breathe with you.
My home for the foreseeable future is a cramped and murky cream carpeted quadrangular room tagged on to the end of an eating disorder unit on the upstairs ward of the hospital. It has an adjoining triangular bathroom off to the right, which can be accessed through a heavy and vicious swinging door.
(Mental note to self; when desperate for a wee, do not PULL door out towards you, walk in to the bathroom and then grapple for the light switch back on the outside of the wall as this will clearly leave your arm exposed to the down right sinister and hit man-esque rebounding door. The pain you will feel as it crushes your radius (posh word for arm bone) is in no way similar to self-harm. It is just ruddy painful and you could really do without it. Follow this process dick head, and you should be fine. Flick light switch, PUSH door in and then wee. Simples.)
There are two bay windows beside the single bed which look out on to the communal garden (occupied with nutters lounging around on bean bags – I should fit right in) which give the room a light and airy feel even though the room itself, even without me in it, is quite cluttered with stuff.
A giant mahogany wardrobe, a matching wooden and outsized desk fitted with lockable draws, a slightly bigger than single bed and two large bedside tables have also been crammed in to the room, along with a hardback desk chair and a deceptively comfortable (but not at all) armchair by the door, which Nick himself is now perched in, flip board balanced on his crossed knee, and pen poised and awaiting instruction.
Hopping from foot to foot in the corner, and trying not to make eye contact with either of my unwelcomed guests I attempt to open the window.
Unfortunately, as I then find out, the windows do not open very wide; presumably to stop you from committing dildo induced Harry Carry.
‘Ok, here we go. Nick, if you can make a list, I will start with the first bag.’
From behind me, I hear her as she unzips the full length of my horribly kitsch bursting at the seams hold all and is accosted by an explosion of fabric. She takes a deep breath and dives in.
- 1 long cardigan. Beige. I think what she meant was; could have once been described as white but now resembles the colour Dulux would probably label ‘Ingrained dirt.’
- 1 pair of trousers, size 10 she looks up at me dubiously before continuing Navy blue. Half a powdery white tablet in the pocket.
My heart stops beating.
‘Lexy, I am hoping this is a Paracetamol but either way’ she sighs, turning it over for examination ‘it will be confiscated and put in clinical waste’
‘Umhum.’ I reply, returning back to watching the mentalists out of the window while beads of sweat congregate at the base of my spine. ‘It will have been a Paracetamol, I don’t do drugs. Not anymore anyway, I used to but only recreational, not like…’
‘Stop talking.’ She interrupts. ‘You don’t have to explain.’
‘Yet.’ I panic to myself, while enduring visions of her pulling out a swirling whirling mechanical cock from the bag and saying deadpan,
- One penis. Hardly used. Size Large.
I turn back to the window and concentrate on breathing. The stomach clenching torture continuing from behind me.
- One pair of jeans. Size 12, light blue. Ripped. Scruffy bitch.
- One high-heeled shoe. Size 5. Green. Yes, just one.
- One hooded jumper. Red. That stinks of vomit.
- Another high-heeled shoe. Size 5. Blue. Eh?
- One seemingly ancient teddy bear with one eye missing. Wearing a dinosaur print baby-gro. That’s fat-tum. My childhood bear. *Cringe*
- One packet of fragrance free Asda brand baby wipes. Huh?
- One pair of leggings. Black. Gusset torn. Oh god I brought the old ones.
- Two packets of new Asda knickers size 8. Seriously? Size 8? For the love of god! What planet was I on? Wedgie.com! FFS!
- One make up bag containing a shit load of powder covered crap. She may not have said these exact words but everybody in the room was thinking it. Even fat-tum. (Who was probably also a bit pissed off to be wearing a baby gro. He is 31.)
- 2 wonder bra’s, one black one white. Shhh! The secret is out. I no longer have boobs but used condoms hanging from my breastplate. Ahhh the magic of motherhood. Never mind empty nest syndrome. I have empty breast syndrome.
- A single and lonely croc. Red. I’ve lost the other one but I love them.
- A laptop.
- 5 Pamper’s size 4 nappies. 2 things are wrong with this picture. Why the hell have I bought nappies? And Addy is in size 5’s anyway… Go figure.
- More Asda own baby wipes. We never have wipes at home? Where have these all come from? Poor Irish one, he is in charge of a child and has been left wipeless. I’ll pray for no gastro issues.
- A hairbrush, hidden under a wigs worth of dead hair. Gross. But… fuck off. It’s motherhood. Not my fault I am now the proud owner of a mullet.
- A pair of black Ugg boots. Size 6. Prized possession. At least I brought something right. She thinks, sweating in a t-shirt.
- 3 t-shirts with various designs on them. All dirty.
- One little black dress. What night is vodka night?
- One pair of GHD hair straighteners’ held together with gaffa tape.
- One pair of glasses held together with gaffa tape.
- One sports sock.
- One black sock.
- A mobile charger held together with gaffa tape.
- A hairdryer held together with gaffa tape.
‘And that’s it Lexy, so we will leave you to it…’
I turn around incredulously and stare at the empty bags. ‘Is that all?’ I stutter? ‘2 odd shoes, knickers that are going to stop the circulation to my upper body, but no willy? Thank god for no gaffa taped willy! There is No Way that would have passed the Pat test!’
I am too overjoyed with the outcome to realise what I have just spluttered.
She laughs and winks at me as Nick shuffles out of the room coughing and spitting in disbelief. (What? I’m crazy! Your bum hangs out of leather pants at the weekends! I’m almost sure of it! Sod off.)
‘There are a few articles we will need to take with us to be pat tested, I would imagine that most of your appliances held together with gaffa tape will not be returned until the end of your stay here, as they may accidentally set the building on fire. Please try and get some rest now honey, as your therapy will start in the morning. If you need anything just shout.’ She quietly closes the door behind her and I am completely and miserably alone for the first time in 15 months.
‘There is nothing I want to do more now or need to do more now, than go home.’ I whisper to fat-tum silently. ‘I want to go home.’
Post- natal depression should not hold stigma.
It is a living hell. One that needs to be taken more seriously.
It is robbing me and millions of women of thier lives, loves and glitter.
I think about my son and how I won’t see him for weeks before picking up my heavy heart and heading for the mystic garden.
Surely I am not the only Glum Mum in the village…