Why I started smoking in hospital

Arriving at the psychiatric ward, in which I stayed for the last three and a half months, the first thing you spot is the so called “smoking pavilion”, basically the most important place up there. It’s where you meet before and after therapy, it’s where you get visited by old fellow patients out of visiting time, it’s where you go when you’re upset, because you’ll always find someone to talk to. It’s where you meet in the middle of the night, because almost everyone in there has some trouble sleeping. It’s where the nurses and therapists walk you, when they need to have a talk with you. It’s the place you go to when you’re hungry, but you’re running low on snacks. It’s the place you go to when you’re bored, almost every time someone will lurk around the corner after a few minutes. You spend the sunny days in front of it, the rainy ones inside of it.

After you’ve seen the famous smoking pavilion it won’t take you long until you spot either a single smoker or a whole group of people smoking. There’s no in-between. And whilst a single person smoking is rather rare, the groups of smokers belong to that place like the trees that seem to have grown there all along.
You might think these groups are limited to patients, but nurses, therapists and doctors seem to not have learned so much during their education. It’s actually pretty hard to find a person that doesn’t smoke. Everyone’s doing it. The head physician, the well-educated therapist, the nurse that doesn’t even smoke at home, the trainee, the nursing student, even the addiction counsellor.

When a patient is admitted and tells the physicians that they do not smoke, they’ll probably hear the same thing every other non-smoker did on their first day: “Oh, one of the very few non-smokers here, that’ll be fun.”

I got to hear that sentence, too. But a few weeks later, when I lit up my first cigarette there, everyone was left in shock. Maybe, because I was one of the few that didn’t smoke when they were admitted. Maybe, because they thought I wasn’t ‘that type of girl’. I heard it all.

Now, being outpatient, I quit again. But I’m still getting horribly judged for even starting.

But, you know, it’s hard to explain to non-neurodivergents. And now, that I left it behind, it makes even less sense.

As a person who’s among other things being treated for depression, I as well went under treatment for suicidal thoughts and suicidal ideation.
Staying in hospital, you obviously can’t easily act on these or any other self-injurious ideas. I mean, you can, but it’s attached to a lot more stress and talks and justifications, as well as incredibly annoying behaviour analyses.

Not being able to actively harm myself all the time, my incredibly smart and disfunctional brain figured, that smoking could be an alternative.
It was something I didn’t like and I was kinda afraid of, the perfect thing to cause some harm to myself. Not forgetting the harm it causes to the body.

Some days I was sitting there hoping that this cigarette I was smoking might be the one that finally killed me. Other days I was just trying to numb the thoughts and the pain I felt. On even other days I just didn’t have stuff to do and I figured, that it would be a better option to smoke some cigarettes than to cut or burn myself.

If you never experienced this situation yourself, it’ll probably be hard to understand the feeling of having a little bit control over the damage you cause yourself, when most of it is taken away from you by rules the hospital put on you.

It was a way to cope, a way to numb my feelings, a way of limiting the damage.

Now that I am outpatient after a quarter of a year, I am proud to say that I quit.
But there are still days on which I can’t refuse, either because I am feeling okay, but not okay enough to not cause any harm to myself; or because I am just so fed up with everything, I have to turn it into a rebellious act against myself; or because I feel like it would be the better and less damaging option I have in that moment.

It were never my fellow patients that pressured me to start smoking, it was never out of peer-pressure, it was me that made that decision and it is me that has to be able to control whatever I choose to do.

I hope, that unlike a lot of people in life, you will question the things a person does, before judging them for their actions. Their behaviour might not fit your idea of reacting to certain events in life, but yours might not fit their idea either.

“Everyone deals with unimaginable pain in their own way, and everyone is entitled to that, without judgement.”

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These are the things I no longer wish to understand

I no longer wish to understand, why you would give someone the power to make their words become your thoughts. To make you hate yourself so much.

I no longer wish to understand the ongoing panic, even when nothing in particular is happening. The fear of the fear. Developing into a thing so big, that you can’t stop it from attacking you. That you can’t control it, and – most importantly – yourself, anymore.

I no longer wish to understand this constant idea in your head, that tells you everybody hates you. That makes you believe, the absence of the evidence that someone doesn’t hate you equals them actually hating you.

I no longer wish to understand the obsession you develope once you decide to trust someone. The attachement. The fear of losing them. The realization that this relationship only exists in order to end.

I no longer wish to understand why someone would push away a loved one in order to make sure they’ll stay, instead of pulling them closer and holding on to them.

I no longer wish to understand the thoughts that control you every single day. Every hour. Every minute. Every second. That make you want to leave this world. That won’t leave you alone even in the better moments.

I no longer wish to understand why someone would wish for death, even though they know that they’ve been gifted with a life.

I no longer wish to understand the way it stings in the shower the next day. The guilt of realizing what you’ve done and the idea that maybe you deserved it.

I no longer wish to understand why someone would prefer the touch of a razor blade to their skin over that of a loved one.

I no longer wish to understand how you have to explain it over and over. How it is so much worse than every other bodypart being sick. How there exists such a stigma on a single topic.

I no longer wish to understand the idea of not being sick enough. Of wasting time others may would have needed more than you. The way the brain is able to deny its own sickness.

I no longer wish to understand why someone would wish to no longer understand the things they have learned to understand.

Specific phobias

Did you ever fear something so much you would have rather died than having to experience that thing?

That’s what it’s like to have a specific phobia.

Everything I do in my life is meant to prevent on experiencing my fear, every thought I think is checked at least twice in case it could make this thing happen.

I can’t even write about what my biggest fear is, because when I write or talk about it it seems even more real and even more like it’s gonna happen in any moment.

I am ashamed, of my fear and of myself. I know that these thoughts don’t make sense, I know that my fear seems irrelevant to others and I know that my phobia is what holds me back from living a happy life.

Not even one simple action like putting a glas on a table isn’t thought through a hundred times. Did I ever do it like I’m doing it right now and was I afraid or did the thing happen? If I do it like this now, will I be afraid or will this thing happen? If I do it like this now and I will be afraid or the thing will happen, I won’t ever be able to do it like this again, because it will happen again. If I won’t ever be able to do it like this again, I will get afraid and the thing might happen.

My thoughts never stop. My mind is currently working and creating “What if” sentences. I can’t make it stop. I can’t make it stop, because if I don’t think about it, I will be afraid and the thing might happen.

At times it gets worse and I become really afraid. I won’t be able to function like a normal human being, I might escape or try to interact with you, I might talk a lot or not at all, I might sit still or walk around trying to breathe, I might tell you what’s going on, but most of the time I won’t.

I have to get through this and I most probably will get through this, but I never know for sure if I really will.

Sometimes I want to give up, I don’t want to exist anymore or I want to die, because then the thing won’t ever happen again.

Sometimes I just want to hide, forever. I want to find an option to make sure this thing won’t ever happen, at all costs.

Sometimes I just want this fear to go away, because I would like to do something randomly and not think about the same thing all the time, sometimes I just want to know how a normal life feels.

Please, I beg you to never ever ever play down someone’s fears or to even make fun of them. If you’ve never felt like that before, you won’t be able to understand, no matter how hard you try. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try.

Try to find out what comforts the person, what lowers their fear and what you can do to help them a little. Even if it’s just talking random stuff or sitting across the room; the best you can do is to respect the persons fear and to try to minimize the harm they do to themselves, mentally and/or physically.