Five years ago I was pretty much housebound, leaving only to attend appointments. I wasn’t living, I was existing. Through hard work, determination and sheer stubbornness I began, slowly, to go out and my world gradually got bigger until finally, in October last year, I was able to travel to my home town by myself.
Two nights ago, while out for an evening walk and with no thoughts or intentions of doing myself any harm, I was picked up by the police and detained under Section 136 of the Mental Health Act. Fortunately I was only held for a few hours, and I returned home cold but fine. Or so I thought.
Yesterday I needed to go to the corner shop, maybe a two minute walk from my house. It took me half an hour to be able to leave the house and I was very relieved to get back to safety behind my closed door. Last night my next door neighbour invited me round for a cuppa and a chat. It took me ten minutes to calm myself enough to get there. Today, just the thought of leaving the house makes my anxiety levels rocket.
My world, which was never safe but was ok, was manageable, is now once again incredibly dangerous. Now I know I can be picked up and detained despite not being in the grips of a mental health crisis, despite having no thoughts or intentions of harming myself or others. The world is a scary place.
So I am back to square one, back to where I was five long, hard years ago. I must go over old ground and repeat all the baby steps I thought I would never have to take again. I won’t let it beat me this time, just like I didn’t let it beat me last time. But it will take time I don’t have, time I wanted to spend doing other things.
The police officer who detained me without warning presumably thought he was doing the right thing. He wouldn’t have realised the impact his snap judgement would have. I didn’t realise either. But now, thanks to him, my house is the only place I feel safe. And having come so far that is a horrible feeling.