I thought I would write about one of my experiences from being in the unit, an example of what goes on ‘behind closed doors’. If someone had told me about this, I would never had believed them, if I had not been involved in it myself.
In the unit, I met a girl called Sarah, who I became very close to. I still speak to her occasionally on facebook, but she was moved to a treatment centre up country so even though after I left the unit I still visited her, I could no longer do that.
She has BPD but with a few other associated issues, and one of her ways to self harm was to place razor blades inside her vagina, as she had been sexually assaulted. The first few times she went to hospital (it was close to the unit) to have them removed but obviously this was a traumatic experience for her (I can’t imagine ever doing it myself but I’m guessing the whole experience was massively traumatic).
One night she came into my room and closed the door behind her. It was just after the hourly check and she looked upset. She asked me for a favour, and explained that she had been inserting, and got one ‘stuck’. She couldn’t face going back to the hospital and asked if I would remove it for her. Now, I don’t know whether it was because we were so close but I’m guessing maybe it was because I had explained about the reasons behind me being in the unit (the relationship breakdown with Jean) and she guessed because I had been familiar with women it would be ‘ok’.
I asked her to get on the bed and took some used towels from the big bin in the bathroom to cover my white sheets. She took off her pants and I got to it – the razor had been pushed up but then come back down and pierced the side wall of her vagina and was stuck. I managed to get it out but I just couldn’t believe how someone could do that to themselves. She must have been in agony but I imagine that was nothing to the mental torture she must have been going through. I felt honoured that she trusted me to help her like this, but it also showed exactly ‘how it is’ when you are in a unit like this – there was no question of her going to the staff because of the stigma, the trouble it would cause. Maybe I was wrong to help, maybe she needed to go so they would know what was going on, I don’t know.
I told her that she must, must go to the nurses if she started bleeding heavily, and asked her if I could keep the razor, which I later sterilised over the kettle and hid in my underwear drawer ‘just in case’ – unfortunately that razor was responsible the biggest scars on my arm.
It just shows what goes on, and although it meant an awful lot to me that she trusted me that much, it shows how being in a ‘safe’ place like a unit isnt necessarily the best place to be for a lot of people who are ill.
Take Care. x