My sister-in-law and I have a bit of a joke about hospitals in that we both like hospital food; particularly the mashed potato and somewhat processed vanilla desserts. So each time I was admitted, she would say ‘’ah, it’s because you want some more of their food’’. Actually a hospital diet consisting mainly of white bread and jam is hardly conducive to a healthy body and certainly not to an already unhealthy mind. This contradiction always surprises me that the most basic requirement of good nutrition is lacking in hospitals. However, this is an entirely separate argument and apart from feeling like death my hospital stay (the last one) was bearable. The first time was terrible. This again is a hugely personal topic which is dealt with at length in my book.

It is only until very recently that I no longer feel shame over my hospitalisation(s). At the time I was the same as any other person who did not know too much about mental health and viewed hospitalisation for a mood disorder as a bit of a disgrace. So much for my preaching about understanding and acceptance of mental health issues. I had zero understanding or indeed tolerance of my own, but I now realise that the lessons learned from hospitalisation have been salutary ones and I will never ever take my health for granted again.

Anyone who thinks de-toxing from alcohol is hard core (I did not even notice any physical withdrawal symptoms when I gave up drinking) has not had the joy of coming off a pharmaceutical drug. It is hell. There is no other word for it and it has to be conducted under close, medical supervision. In hospital, where I was concerned, they went for the short, sharp shock and I never want to experience it again. My own much later withdrawal from Xanax, which is explained under X, was very, very slow and measured and did not cause as much distress.

I came out of hospital too early which proved to be a big mistake, as I was still critically ill…

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