One day we were out walking in the fresh air and then the next we found ourselves sectioned by the mental health act, deemed too complicated, too broken to be a part of society any longer.
I shared those stained white walls of the psychiatric inpatient unit back in 2015 with 27 strangers; people with rocky pasts and grey looking futures. We would probably never have met out in the real world and yet here we were, suddenly together, imprisoned in a small yet imposing building bonded by a new hue. The colour of madness.
It was innately understood from the moment we entered the building that it was now us against them – patients vs staff. No longer considered citizens, our right to decide if we could walk outside or if we could make a phone call was erased along with our rights to vote and make decisions about our own medical care.
We yearned for stability and boundaries yet like a bunch of defiant teenagers we rebelled against the rules that now governed us, controlling when we ate and when we slept. We spat out our pills and smoked cigarettes in the toilets while our comrades in arms kept watch.
Other times when our inner darkness became too much for us to bare we just hugged and cried, secure in the knowledge that we may have been isolated in a world beyond our control, but we were certainly not alone.
Yes, the mate ship in the psych ward was akin to no other I have ever experienced. We may have come from different worlds, lawyers, junkies, craftsmen, artists and mothers – and yet here we were bonded forever by the one thing that we all had in common – we were all soldiers fighting the greatest war we had ever known; the war against ourselves.
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