Bonnie Doman’s Guest List: The Day I Was Admitted to Rehab

Bonnie Doman’s Guest List: The Day I Was Admitted to Rehab

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Bonnie says: This was taken a few weeks before my breakdown with my youngest aged 3 months.

Bonnie (AKA @bon_ldn)  and I are both Advertising Creatives. If asked, I would describe Bonnie as A) super stylish B) lovely C) talented and most of all  D) ‘really together’.

But, as I have said before, appearances can be very deceptive. You see, not that long ago Bonnie went through a Nervous Breakdown. It was trigged by the birth of her second child and resulted in her being admitted to The Priory.

This is her experience:


  • You won’t know you are about to have a breakdown until it’s fully upon you like a tsunami of fear.

  • You won’t think people like you have breakdowns as you have worked for over 12 years in one of London’s biggest Advertising Agencies, talked to boardrooms full of people and travelled the world with big brands who rely on you to deliver great advertising. You think you coped ok with the stress, how can becoming a mother of two be so difficult?

  • On that day 4 years ago when you are walking around Westfield you will hear thousands of babies crying but you won’t realise that the sound you think is coming from your 3-month-old and your 3-year-old is actually coming from inside your head.

  • You will be put on antidepressants by a GP who will say “things may get worse before they get better”  How much worse? Like you want to die worse?

  • The anxiety you will feel like you are on a crashing plane. Imagine you really are on a plane about to crash then imagine that feeling permanently day and night, complete and utter terror. It’s like one long panic attack but without the sweaty, shaky end when the adrenaline calms down.

  • You will want the plane to crash. You want it all to be over.

  • You won’t know it but your mum will be so worried that she calls The Priory hospital.

  • You won’t remember how you got to the hospital but you will wonder who is looking after your children as you are shown to a tiny room that feels like a prison cell.It’s only later that you learn that your sister goes every night to feed a bottle to your baby even though she has a sick child at home with a hole in the heart to deal with.

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    I put this shot on instagram but no one knew it was The Priory and that i was in there.
  • You will be taken to the ‘Addiction’ Wing’ not because you are addicted to anything but because “We like to put a mum or two in here with them as it calms everyone down and they need some mothering from time to time” WTF!

  • You will scream “I HAVE TO GET HOME TO MY BABIES! THEY NEED ME! “ over and over but no one will let you leave.

  • You won’t leave that place for another 6 weeks. That’s 42 days without your babies. Can you imagine that? that feeling like when you go away from them for a night and you can’t stop thinking of them? well, multiply it by a thousand but with no end date for when you might actually see them again.

  • And so your life as a patient in a mental hospital begins. You don’t eat for the first 2 weeks, you feel physically sick… your breasts will still be leaking milk as you’d been trying to wean your baby onto bottles when the breakdown hit. You will sit on your bed leaking tears and milk spaced out on a cocktail of medication and I just keep asking for them to put you to sleep, to make it all stop, the fear, the guilt and pain of being separated from your children. Just make it STOP!

  • I’m not sure what you know about The Priory, maybe you think of the celebs who go there like Kate Moss or the Z-listers who go there to recover from breakdowns after their stars start to loose their shine. It may seem like a glorified Big Brother house but it is very far from it.

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    This was taken a few weeks before my breakdown with my youngest aged 3 months.
  • You will see and hear things that will haunt you forever. People who had been through so much, incest, sexual abuse, victims of war, PTSD…rape  I’ve listened to every detail of their stories, I’ve held them when they sobbed and I’ve ingested all their pain and I now carry it with me forever. But you will also see people just like you, mums who just couldn’t cope.

  • You will see someone who has taken their own life. Nothing will EVER prepare you for that. The purple, swollen body of a young woman on a stretcher in front of you. She had been alive earlier and now she was dead.… looking at her you think it’s like looking at yourself dead. You can’t un-see something like that.  You will think about that girl often in your darker times. She will become a reminder of what COULD of happened, but what didn’t.

  • You WILL recover.

  • It’s now been 4 years since i emerged from The Priory and from my breakdown. But a bit like when you break your leg, you still get twinges from time to time that remind you how fragile you are. It took me a couple of years to fully get to grips with my depression and anxiety but then it reared it’s ugly head again last year. I know it’s something that i may always have to live with.

  • What you will learn from having a breakdown?

  • That you are stronger than you ever thought possible.

  • That mental health is like any other part of health and wellbeing, your brain can get sick too.

  • That it’s ok to not be ok and to remember to talk to people once those feelings and negative thoughts start to take over.

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    This was a trip to the park that my mum took me on towards the end of my time in hospital. I remember feeling completely and utterly detached like I was watching someone else with my child. Shortly after this was taken i had a panic attack and had to go back inside.
  • You will connect with loads of people through social media who have had similar experiences and you will start to feel less of the shame and guilt about what you went through.

  • You will discover IAPT services ( Improving Access to Psychological Therapies) and that you can self-refer to a local mental health service in your area.

  • You will think CBT isn’t for you but once you actually try it you realise just how much it will help you.

  • You will recommend it to EVERYONE.

  • You will develop a kind of Gay-dar but for mental health problems and be able to spot the signs if someone may be suffering in silence and will approach them and ask if they are ok?

  • You will still need to take a tiny bit of medication from time to time but know that that’s fine as most people you know are on something and that one day you may not need it.

  • You will be a ‘work in progress’ and will continue to search for a way to live your life without the fear of going back to that place.

  • You will also accept that anxiety is a part of your life, and without it you can’t tackle that big brief and will learn to harness all that neurotic energy.

  • You may well tell random strangers about your breakdown, the girl who gave you a massage in that fancy spa, the Postman, the Ocado driver. You will want to share it like a dirty secret as you will want to purge it from your mind and normalise it.

  • You will do a list about it to tell many more people that you made it through a breakdown In the hope that if anyone reading it and who may be suffering, may feel that its ok to not be ok, that it happens to normal people like you and me and you will survive, just like i did.  

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This was me the day I came out with a bunch of flowers a friend sent me. I’m drugged up to my eyeballs but elated to be home.

 

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11 thoughts on “Bonnie Doman’s Guest List: The Day I Was Admitted to Rehab

  1. Thank you for this beautiful, honest, raw and poignant list. . . it is sad how many of us suffer in this silence, yet have similar thoughts. Thank you for the honesty and for sharing. . big big love and respect!

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  2. This has made me sob, you are amazing for sharing it, living it, dealing with it. I wish you ever happiness and strength through those hard days that will come and know you will deal with xxxx

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  3. That has to be one of the most the most searingly raw, real and courageous shares, thank you Bonnie and Clemmie. I can’t imagine getting a well or unwell head around being separated from your babies… #itcanhappentoanyone

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  4. Amazing lady for sharing her experiences. The same happened to my husband when my second child was born after a traumatic birth. He was sectioned and admitted to hospital for 10 weeks. I totally admire Bonnie for speaking out. Keep fighting and keep strong. #ithappenstomentoo #allinthistogether

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  5. Thanks Bonnie for sharing your experience. You are very brave and your wonderful piece of honest and raw writing will touch, help and inspire others xx

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  6. I’m so upset just from reading this! Absolutely horrendous experience. Do they really need to take a breastfeeding mother away from her babies to help her? Is there no two way house for this? It sounds barbaric!

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    1. The NHS has mother and baby units which if often the best compromise. But different people need different things, sometimes people need to get back to themselves before they can be with their children! And people at the priory are often not under a legal section, they can leave (it’s private healthcare) but might be advised to stay longer to recover.

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