The title of this piece probably doesn’t make much sense and you’re likely to be wandering what Level 3 is.
First of all, the events leading up to me being put on this ominous ‘level 3’. Writing about this was prompted by reading through the diary I kept for the first half of my stay in hospital. In late April things had taken a turn for the worse and I had had a huge dip in mood. I had managed to bring a bottle of vodka and two packets of paracetamol onto the ward with me (more about how easy it was to sneak contraband onto the ward to come later). I drank most of the vodka – a lot of which I had thrown up in my sink – then downed the rest with the paracetamol I had bought.
In the blur of this overdose I thought about leaving a note. I didn’t know how the hell I was meant to explain any of this but in my intoxicated state I scribbled down on some scrap paper a short and to the point note for the staff – ‘Don’t bother, I’m not worth it.’ Reading through my diary I came across this note which I have kept and to be perfectly honest it broke my heart. My mood is still not fantastic but this was a reminder of how much worse things used to be – that I actually felt myself to be worthless of something every human has the right to – life. Fortunately, one of the members of staff came into my room to get me for dinner, she saw the vomit in the sink, smelled the alcohol and saw the empty packets – putting two and two together with some help from my drunken babbling about paracetamol and vodka they realised what had happened and rushed me to A&E. I spent the next two days there on 3 different drips to try and counteract the effects of the overdose and I was eventually discharged back to the Psychiatric Hospital, fortunately with no visible long-term damage.
This is where level 3 comes in. You most likely won’t be aware of what level 3 is and almost everyone has been lucky enough to never experience this terrible, yet necessary, invasion of the most basic privacy. I spent a week on level 3 and was watched CONSTANTLY. Just imagine: Need the toilet? A member of staff is watching you. Want a shower? They’re still watching. Even trying to sleep? You bet they’re still there. Looking back I can see why they put me on what is also known as 1-2-1 observation. I was considered to be at very high risk of suicide and self harm. I did try to pull a few more stunts but fortunately due to level 3 I was spotted and stopped.
This was my first experience of 1-2-1 and it was suffocating. Personally I found showering and going to the toilet the most difficult to cope with. It was for my own safety and I realise that however, it does not stop it from being an incredibly humiliating experience for me and I’m sure it wasn’t pleasant for the staff either. I think telling my friends and family about being on level 3 and them witnessing it themselves really shocked them. They had never seen anything like it before either and I think although they were reassured that I was safe, they found it hard to comprehend what it must be like to be watched 24/7. It was intense.
Thank god I am now sat in my own room, with my door closed able to shower and go to the toilet at my own leisure with no one watching – what a luxury! I’m very glad that that part of my life is behind me now. Although things haven’t been easy, looking back on this experience shows just how far I’ve come and the note I keep in my diary is a reminder that I never want to go back there. Some days I may not feel it but I now realise that I am most definitely worth it… and you are too.