On the morning of Tuesday 12th May I woke up apprehensive and severely depressed. I had the bag that I had packed the night before containing my clothes, shoes, magazines and notebooks as well as my Plan B. I kept forgetting I had it in there and then remembering with a weird cross between relief and fear. I made a decision to try and get better first, before I used plan B as I said good bye to my children that morning – they thought I was off to Queensland to visit my brother.
We had planned to drop the kids off at school and head into a hospital in the capital city that my Doctor had recommended over the one in the town closer to where we live. I was told to go into the ER and tell them I was depressed and suicidal. I was anxious as hell the whole drive in wishing I could just open the car door and bail out in front of a truck.
When we arrived in the hospital I freaked out totally, my husband had to coax me slowly out of the car and I was trembling all over, couldn’t see straight and felt like I would pass out at any moment. I wouldn’t let him take my bag because I felt sure they wouldn’t take me in anyway so he begrudgingly left it in the car and we made our way up to the ER.
My husband walked up to the triage desk as I hung back in the corner, I could hear her ask loudly what the problem was and I couldn’t stand the thought of all the people in the ER knowing what was wrong with me. I called out to my husband before he had a chance to answer and said “Its ok, lets go” and with out looking back at him I bee-lined out the door and back towards the car park.
He caught up with me and asked what was going on, I burst into tears and said “I CANT DO THIS!” He told me that I had too but I was too horrified at the thought of going back to where all those people just saw me freak out that I ended up telling him that I wanted to go back to the mental health unit in the nearby town where I had been last year during a manic episode.
He agreed to take me there, although I could plainly see that he didn’t want to and I was still trying to think of a way to convince him just to take me home again. After a long fairly silent journey that involved many tears on my part we arrived at the hospital. I held my husband’s hand tight as we made our way under the little covered walkway through to the ER.
I could feel myself starting to lose it again as we walked through the door so I said to my husband “you tell them what’s going on, I need to go to the toilet.” I locked myself in the little cubical knowing that the triage nurse now knew I was fucking crazy and half the waiting room would have probably heard too. I took a deep breath and went back out and sat down with my husband – he looked relieved that I hadn’t done a runner. I kept my head down and didn’t say anything or make eye contact with anyone, they all knew.
Eventually we were called in to speak with a nurse, I could barely speak – How the fuck do you say ‘Oh yes good morning, by the way I wish that I was dead and I am planning on making that happen ASAP’. I felt like an idiot and mumbled something about suicidal ideation, my head was pounding and I don’t remember much more of what she said but she told us to go back out to the waiting room and she would call the mental health assessment team from the unit to come and assess me.
We were called through and were ushered past all the beds full of sick kids and confused elderly people and into a room that had a bed much like at a GP’s rooms and glass walls, it had a video surveillance camera in it – I felt like a goldfish on a reality TV show.
My husband went out to use the bathroom and have a cigarette, I went to go to the bathroom but it was two way and someone walked in on me from the other side just before I sat down, so embarrassed as I asked to use the one in the waiting room instead. They let me and feeling really overwhelmed I started plotting how I would do a runner but realised that by hubby would be standing having his smoke where I would need to go to run out anyway so it wouldn’t be an option.
My head was still pounding, I grabbed some Panadol out of my purse, there were only 6 left, I took all of them, this felt like a migraine and I couldn’t handle that on top of everything else right now. I walked back to my little goldfish bowl, my husband appeared a few minutes later and after what seemed like hours the Mental Health Assessment team arrived.
A man and a women, both lovely, we talked for a bit and I actually started to feel a bit better, my head ache was finally lifting and I think the hardest part for me was admitting that I had an issue that I could no longer cope with. They toyed with the idea of sending me home, I could have quite easily bluffed my way out of the building at that moment but feeling stronger in myself I actually told them that chances are I would feel bad again tomorrow and I didn’t have any fight left in me.
They decided to keep me in after all, they took some bloods and told me they would sort out a room down in the unit and take me through to be admitted. I finally arrived on the unit and my husband had to go home and pick up the kids from school. I said goodbye, told him I loved him and would call him later that night ( The low dependency unit had public phone booths we could call from).
I was introduced to the big personality of psychiatrist Dr C. A solid but not overly tall man with a shiny suit and a pink paisley tie, he knew his job inside out and didn’t take bull shit from anyone; that being said there was something appealing about him – at least you knew where you stood. He asked A LOT of questions, I answered them as honestly as possible with certain omissions regarding plan B’s when asked if I had any immediate plans to harm myself – honesty was to my detriment though because Dr C decided to not only admit me, but admit me to the High Dependency Unit. I had spent a day on The HDU during my last admission while half unconscious recovering from the drug OD and it wasn’t fun.
I chatted with a nurse as she went through my belongings, they have to make sure nothing prohibited comes in mostly stuff that can be used for self harm such as ties on tracksuit pants, shoe laces, scarves etc. They take photographs of everything so there are no disputes about stolen items later. The nurse was lovely and we were having a good talk which came in handy as she started going through my toiletries. My heart skipped a beat as I remembered my plan B, she picked up the conditioner bottle I had hidden my 100 tablets in, neatly packed into a heat sealed bag white tablets, surrounded and concealed by white conditioner. I commented on something she had said and she laughed and put the bottle down and continued going through the rest of my things.
The nurse finished up and she began to show me through to the HDU. My shoes clopping as I walked due to their lack of shoe laces. Suddenly Dr C appeared out of nowhere and dramatically declared “Stop! She’s not going in there she needs to go straight to the ER!!” “Wha..??” The nurse and I looked at each other puzzled. “Do you have something you would like to tell me young lady?” Dr C said staring at me. Fuck. How the HELL did he find out about plan B? The nurse didn’t notice- she was still carrying my bag with the evidence in her hand…
Dr C , still not breaking eye contact then says “well they why is your paracetamol count so high then?” Did you or did you not take an overdose?
“Paracetamol count? What are you talking about? I haven’t overdosed on anything!”
“Ugh. She needs to go straight to the ER to have the antidote.” Dr C shook his head at me and walked off briskly saying “we will talk later”. I was still trying to work out what was going on when a nurse informed me that they had called an ambulance.
The unit is technically separate to the hospital even though they are only next door to each other and as such they ridiculously had to waste tax payers money by calling an ambulance to drive me 100 meters up the road.
So we are sitting waiting for an ambulance and I have a different nurse now. She doesn’t believe me for a second, at this point Im trying to think why and suddenly remember that I took two Panadol with breakfast as I had had a headache and sore throat and realised I had COMPLETELY forgotten about the 6 Panadols' I had taken in the loo. 6 wasn’t enough to give you an overdose blood level surely, I took bloody 50 odd of the things when I was actually trying to overdose last year and that only made me nauseous. I couldn’t admit that now as it’s embarrassing to say I frequently take 6 for a headache and it’s never done any harm before so I told them about the two with breakfast and continued pleading my innocence.
The Ambo’s arrived after about 45minutes (seriously!!?? 100m people I felt fine, could have walked!) and one of the ambo officers mentioned that Lemsip has paracetamol in it ( I had Lemsip in my hand bag when they did the inventory) I had also had a Lemsip that morning! Things were starting to add up… FUCK.
So as a result of a completely accidental overdose on 6 to 9 depending how you count it – paracetamol tablets I spent the night in ICU feeling 100% fine, bored out of my brain watching dodgy re runs on telly and listening to an old women with dementia ask the same series of questions over and over. I was annoyed that I can’t seem to kill myself intentionally yet the one time I do something accidently I am at a hospital and they can fix it. So of course they rang my husband and he didn’t believe me either. Awesome.