Taming my madman

#imnotashamed #itaffectsme #hetraaktmijook

November 2011, at the age of 37, I felt on top of the world. In my case that means I was glued to my laptop and couldn’t stop writing. My pieces were brilliant and I had solved all major world problems.

My girlfriend, some friends and family were getting pretty worried, but I just carried on being brilliant. Although my dad was bipolar – I had visited him in different wards during my childhood – I had never connected this to myself. I’m not that kind of person, not me. I appeared to be wrong.

The scariest part of my in-creeping-madman is his subtleness. He arrives as the best feeling ever. So when I feel good, I should be very aware. Pretty weird.

Even now, when I read blogs from that period, they look pretty brilliant. I wish I could write stuff like that every day.

It didn’t take long though before I totally lost my mind. My hypomania turned into mania and finally I was psychotic. Not much later I found myself in isolation, in a psychiatric ward.

In The Netherlands – I live in Amsterdam – it is still pretty common to put psychotic people in isolation. My girlfriend had rang emergency number 112. I was put in a prison cell kind of room, by policemen. A rubber matrass, no window and a cardboard bed pan, that was it.

Funnily enough they call such a room stimuli poor. But in psychosis stimuli poor doesn’t exist. If there’s no stimulus it will always make one up. In such a room a small dirt spot becomes a universe on its own. Not very comforting, I can tell you.

Dutch medical care is very reluctant on giving strong medication. I had to bash my head several times against the wall and take some licks of my own urine before finally a riot police squad held me down, so a doctor could finally give me a needle in the backside, to get me back to earth.

Luckily there is an aim in this country to get rid of this medieval ‘treatment’. By 2018 there should be no isolation cells in The Netherlands. It will be a huge cultural change though. Not all Dutch medical professionals believe me when I tell them that in the UK and Norway this ‘treatment’ doesn’t even exist.

Ik heb een gek te temmen cover kleinMy stay in hospital lasted a couple of weeks, with only two very short stays in isolation. I am on lithium and doing fine. I wrote a book about my encounter with my illness. It’s called Ik Heb Een Gek te Temmen, which means I Have to Tame A Madman. It’s only available in Dutch I’m afraid.

I wrote this blog in English to support the #imnotashamed and the #itaffectsme campaigns.

Lots of love from Amsterdam,

Nicky Samsom

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