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Life in the MBU (mother and baby unit) during a pandemic

I’m no stranger to this place, but things are different this time. I’ve been sectioned and detained in a mother and baby psychiatric ward for almost 4 months.

I wanted to talk about it to give others insight and I’ll be as open and as honest as I can.

I was admitted to hospital because I had attempted to end my life, I know this will be a shock, but I inserted needles into my vein and drained enough blood that my haemoglobin reached 6 .. it should be at least 12. People haven’t survived that amount of blood loss, my lungs felt heavy, my legs wouldn’t work and my heart was racing at 140bpm at best. I had to have blood transfusions and iron transfusions and was then escorted to the unit with my baby.

The beginning of my journey was relatively okay, I had a game of tug of war with the consultants about why and how long they should keep me here. I wanted to be empowered to take control of my mental health but in reality I fell apart and lost control of it. This means I am legally detained here on a section 3 treatment order for 6 months … this felt like a prison sentence – and still does. You’re effectively a puppet on strings and do as you’re asked because you know if you don’t. You’re serving that full 6 months. 

When I was first admitted (early March) Covid-19 wasn’t a thing, but was a thing … in my area we had 0 cases 0 deaths. The “virus” was spoken about but always presumed it would be something that passed us by like all social media hype. How wrong we all were.

At this point I was allowed visitors, leave was being discussed but not confirmed and I went along with it. When lockdown happened I was relatively fresh into my admission and slowly our privileges diminished. No visitors, no walks, no leave. Nothing. I was locked up in a tiny unit with just my baby and I could only watch as Steven delivered essentials to me through the window as he did a drop and run.

This wasn’t the hardest part, the fact that I had a medically fragile child at home was eating away and at the forefront of my mind. The news plastered with latest news and figures of death tolls – “people with complex needs most vulnerable”… fuck. Ava was vulnerable at the best of times, this virus was not being kind to anyone in its path and Ava, I know, would die if she caught it.

What if she gets it? What if she dies without me having seen her for the last couple of months? Each night was impossible. I would sit in my room and cry; I pleaded, no I BEGGED to be let out and that was that… the section was slapped on me because I was informal and they legally couldn’t hold me without good reason, so on it went, powerless. Nothing I could do. The next day I set about appealing my section, it comes as no shock that I epically lost both hearings and the judge ruled in the hospitals favour, I had nothing left.

Slowly but surely the lockdown has eased, I have finally been allowed leave, I’ve been there 4 months now, technically any way, but my section wasn’t slapped on until April.

The days became incredibly long, – they still are. The staff would come in and say “yes, but we only go in between work and home..” oh okay. I get that, but at least you’re in your home, you can go to the shop, you can breathe air and see outside of 4 walls ….

Over time I became angrier and angrier and actually I took the attitude that my life wasn’t worth living. I was riddled with guilt, Steven has missed out on a bond with his last baby (Beatrix was only 9 weeks old when I was admitted – she is now 6 months old). Guilt that I was not with my children whom deserved their mum.. despite my illness. I also feel a tremendous guilt surrounding Ava, time is limited, time is priceless, time is not guaranteed and I torment myself into thinking that when she goes, I’ll look back at how I should’ve been there in these months… she doesn’t understand at all as to why I wasn’t there, and it has been evident in my FaceTime calls that she missed me. Pointing and clapping her hands, signing “kiss” and my heart shatters to pieces every single time.

It became so hard I lost it, after leave being cancelled on me due to complicating policies regarding a section 17 (authorised leave of absence) I broke. I ran to my bed and I didn’t surface for a few days, I ignored the staff, I didn’t eat, I didn’t shower, I cried and cried. The doctors put me on level 4 observations which is someone at arms length, I had someone by my bed and with the light on watching me and it was awful.

I needed to break to fix myself, and I’m getting there. Yes there have been hiccups, but I’m getting there, slowly, surely I will get there.

This virus isn’t going any where any time soon, and all I can do is hope and pray we don’t catch it. I’ll be home soon. For good, I’ll be a better mum, I’ll do this.

Be kind. Always. You never know what is going on behind closed doors.

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