Saturday, February 14, 2015

My Experience In A Psychiatric Hospital

I've been through a long and stressful few months, and without getting into the gritty details, I ended up being sectioned under the Mental Health Act and put into a psychiatric hospital. The only free bed was 4 hours away from my house so I had to take an ambulance ride from 10:30pm to 2:30am in order to get there. So here is a run down of what happened the past 2 weeks.

Day 1 to 3 - This is my first time being admitted to a psychiatric hospital, and I'm currently on a NHS and Private ward which is quite nice and feels more like a small hotel than a hospital. The room has it's own bathroom and is decent, with an okay bed (but the worst pillow!). The staff are lovely, from the moment I arrive at 2:30am to the minute I leave, they're kind and considerate, and they don't seem to judge me at all. I am read my rights seeing as I'm under section, and I'm given the right to appeal against my section which I decline. I am weighed and measured, blood pressure and all that jazz. I am then seen by a not so kind doctor about 3:30am who asks me questions and all I can say is that I'm tired. He starts me on anti-psychotic medication which apparently is weight neutral (I was on Quetiapine last year which made me gain a lot of weight very quickly so I stopped it).

I am greeted every 15 minutes from the staff for observations, which means they come into my room and check I'm okay and then leave (but this usually always woke me up and was very annoying). I was woken up around 8:45am to take my daily medication of Venlafaxine (anti-depressant) and Amisulpride (anti-psychotic). I slept the first day right through until the evening where I decided to eat something, I had declined the breakfast and lunch they brought me because I just wanted to sleep and when I go away from home I lose my appetite. The staff are very nice and ask if I'm okay with most of the 15 minute checks, which I'm usually trying to sleep. My phone charger was taken away to be safety checked, so I have to charge my phone at night in the reception area -_- I get given my charger back a day or two later by a nice member of staff.

I am given an ECG on my stay to check if my heart is okay with the new medication, and I had to do a pee sample too. I decided to take a bath but am sorely disappointed that it takes 10 minutes to fill up less than a quarter of the tub, and the water is barely warm so I have to take a fast bath and wash my hair with my head upside down. I realized before I forgot shampoo and conditioner so they had to provide both for me (I was given 10-15 minutes to pack before leaving my home so I'm surprised I didn't forget more essentials). My lunch and dinner's are made fresh from the kitchen below me, which is such a relief and tastes really delicious. I get to choose my meals from two choices and I'm allowed to make myself toast and hot/cold drinks between meals. They also make you an "emergency supper sandwich" for after dinner if you get hungry. I saw the doctor as well as my assigned doctor 2-3 more times throughout my short stay, asking if I could be moved back closer to home soon which they agreed. I met a few other patients who were all lovely, some were more reserved and stayed in their rooms like myself. I was so relieved to learn all the patients doors were locked and could only be opened by you from the inside (the staff had keys to get in for checks).

Day 4 to 11 - I was woken up on the 4th morning around 10:30am to be told they have a bed at home where I can be moved to hopefully today! I was so happy, I started packing later in the day, had lunch at 12pm, and about 3:30pm we were heading back on a 4 hour journey home. The paramedics kindly offered me food and drink when we stopped half way which I gladly accepted with a KFC milky bar krushem, a few fries, and some Wine Gums ^_^ I had a lovely chat with them about becoming a paramedic myself as well as some other topics, and had a laugh too. Both ambulance journeys the paramedics were so lovely to me and non-judgmental, I adored them and thanked them throughout both journeys.

I arrived back in my hometown around 7:45-8pm bursting for a pee. I had to wait a good 10-15 minutes until someone saw me as it was the staff handover. I was asked the same old questions "why am I there?" "what happened?" blah blah, and then I was shown my room. The ward was definitely more like a hospital, and the bed wasn't as comfy as my other one but the pillow was an improvement. I saw the doctor on call about 40 minutes later who asked the same questions and did general obs, had blood taken and my temperature which showed I had a fever for no reason. I had to take pee samples again, and my tests showed that I had high levels of white blood cells but it was nothing to worry about. They gave me paracetamol for the fever and I was left to have a sandwich and drink, and go to bed.

There was more of a routine in the second hospital, with the first wake up call at 7am for tea and coffee; then the second was just before breakfast at 8am (I went to breakfast the first morning but didn't any of the other mornings). They then regularly checked on me through the door window seeing as I didn't leave my bedroom often, only to get a drink or use the toilet as there wasn't one in my room. Despite all the slight negatives, I was happy to be home so my boyfriend, mom and my care co-coordinator could come and visit me (and I could get some shampoo and conditioner!!). I decided lunch a few days when I didn't want to wake up or go out of my room. Throughout the days I gathered enough courage to go in the craft room to draw/colour in, or in the TV room with the other patients. I met most of the other patients, one who seemed the most similar to me in situation (although I never asked) and age, everyone else was older than me. There was about 8-9 females and we had a female only ward, but the males would occasionally wander down which used to scare me. Some males would get aggressive and start shouting and throwing things (I see now why all the cutlery was plastic), and these times I was glad I could lock myself in my room. That was the only major negativity.

I was given some leave after a week or so of being there, where I could go out for 4 hours with my mom or boyfriend, and 2 hours on my own (6 hours leave altogether which I gladly took). The first leave was with my mom on a Saturday where I went home for 4 hours, went shopping and brought back my pillow, some crossword books, my penpal letters to reply to, and I cleaned my clothes whilst I was there to bring back too. I wish I could've taken my fan though because it was so hot in the rooms! I went out a few times with my boyfriend to town for 6 hours to stretch my legs and feel 'normal' again, and I actually saw a guy from the ward in town and it got me thinking how many ill people were around us and we didn't know it. Anyway, I asked to be discharged because I felt I was in there for no reason, and I had to wait to see the consultant on the Wednesday who ended up agreeing and taking me off section. Being honest I lied, I still am not well but I needed to be home so I said what they wanted to here. I discharged myself the same day and it felt so good to be home and in my own bed! 

But it's now been nearly 4 days since I've come home and I'm not sure whether I made the right decision to come home. I still feel very blank and lost, with bad thoughts. I don't know whether being in hospital longer like they suggested would've been a better idea, but I felt so home sick I would've done anything to get home. I do enjoy being home but I have no structure and no desire for a routine. I'm going back to work this Thursday night which I'm slightly dreading, it was a reason I discharged myself early too. I've been off for 2 weeks now and I'm always scared I'll be dismissed for being ill which I know isn't right and wouldn't normally happen, especially as I followed procedure and gave a sick note. It's my paranoia of being fired that makes me so determined to get better and be normal again. But I'm still struggling as I write this at 2:30am, and whether I will go back in hospital or not is to be seen. I am being seen at 10:30am by the Crisis team to see if they can help me now in any way.

I hope you enjoyed my story. I wrote it because the hours after I was sectioned before I left home, I was frantically looking up experiences on psychiatric hospitals and what to expect. Let me tell you it's nothing like Girl Interrupted or One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest. I'd love to hear your experiences or answer any questions. I hope I included everything I could remember.

Love, Abby x
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  1. Sorry to hear you haven't been well. I hope you start to feel better soon.
    Take care

    1. Thank you for your kind words Steve, I'm on the road to recovery thankfully and should be back to work soon too.

      You too x

  2. My husband has bipolar disorder, so I really pray for you Abby that you find strength for each new day. You are a lovely girl and a really good writer.
    Love, Anita xxxx

  3. Thank you for your bravery to share your experience & struggles in such a public way. Struggling with brain issues is so difficult. I have periods of struggle also and my 17 year old son has had since he was 3. I worked in the field also. This illness doesn't discriminate and you are right, we never know if the person right next to us, or the one we see in public, is struggling at that moment. I hope you experience some steadiness in life and remember to enjoy the good moments! Love to you!