Wednesday, 28 October 2009

The Reason For My Silence

I've been a fairly regular blogger since I started this blog in June 2008. I don't write a post every day, but there is rarely a break of more than a couple of days, but regular visitors to this blog will have noticed a long period where I haven't added anything, even about my knitting.

The reason is that I continued to go downhill and I got to the stage where I became suicidal. I couldn't find a reason to carry on with life and even though I didn't actually do anything to harm myself, it became the foremost thing in my mind. Fortunately, I was still capable of doing the sensible thing so I went to see my GP who was so concerned that he referred me to the psychiatric staff at one of the local hospitals and I ended up becoming what is laughingly called an 'informal' patient at one of our psychiatric hospitals which means that I went in voluntarily rather than being 'sectioned' under the Mental Health Act. The local Mental Health Foundation Trust has seven psychiatric hospitals and which one you end up in depends on where you live within the area that the Trust covers.

So, I have been without access to a computer at a time when I probably had more material for the blog than I could possibly use, although whether anything that I wrote during the early days of my incarceration would make any sense is somewhat debatable. Anyway, I have been granted my first bit of home leave and tonight is going to be the first night at home for a few weeks. I have to go back to the hospital for Ward Round tomorrow, when my Consultant will obviously want to know how I have coped and whether I can be allowed to spend a few more days at home without resorting to doing myself any harm.

This has been a somewhat interesting experience for me because although I have suffered from severe depression for 11 years, and I have felt suicidal at one period in the past, I have never had such intimate dealings with the mental health services offered by the NHS. During this encounter I have met some really interesting people, some nice (including a paranoid schizophrenic who was a real pleasure to be on a ward with) and some who really frightened me and who I really wouldn't want to meet on the street. One thing that I have learned is that one of the worst places for encountering discrimination towards people with mental health problems can be a psychiatric hospital, and this discrimination comes from the staff. I have encountered a few really good mental nurses and a lot who were possibly more 'mental' than the patients that they were supposed to be looking after, and I was looked after for a few hours when I was initially admitted by a doctor who was incredibly kind and compassionate at a time when I was extremely vulnerable and completely overwhelmed by everything after having been left in limbo for about nine hours while the psychiatric staff at the hospital to which I was referred by my GP seemed incapable of doing the simplest things (such as ensuring that I was fed and watered; I had nothing to eat or drink in all that time). He made me a cup of tea and got me some toast and did all he could to put me at my ease while he took a detailed history and carried out a full medical examination. If he continues to exhibit this compassion as he progresses with his training as a psychiatrist then he will make a consultant whose patients will consider themselves very fortunate to be in his care.

I need some time to get my thoughts into focus again, but once that has happened I will write a series of posts about my experience and what was good and bad about it all. One thing that I have already decided is that I want to make sure that my voice is heard and that I want to do something to help ensure that those of us with mental health problems don't get 'treated by numbers' instead of being treated as an individual with rights and feelings that need to be taken into consideration in our treatment.


Anonymous said...

As I read your post I recognised much of what you experienced. For me it was over twenty years ago. I am sad that you got to a point where it was necessary to be hospitalised. This has undoubtedly given you a new perspective of mental health.

One note of caution - take care of yourself first and if there is anything left over then think of others. It is too easy to sacrifice yourself at the alter of mental health activism.

Glad to have you posting again and I know I speak for others when I say I look forward to this coming series of posts. Maybe blogging can provide you with a possible voice.

me said...

So sorry for your pain. Don't really know what else to say on that front. Just know that you are cared about.
Also. About the stigma.. there is some kind of movement or organisation that has been set up to counter this.. have a look at MIND uk's website.

take care.


Jobbing Doctor said...

Dear Madsadgirl,

So sorry to hear about your travails over the last few weeks. I did wonder where you'd gone, and I hope that you can recover from the 'black dog' of severe depression.

I also hope to learn from your experiences.


cb said...

Sending many good wishes through the difficult periods that you've been facing.
Look forward to catching up with the posts.

Take care

alhi said...

Take care.

Anonymous said...

I too wondered where you have gone, I guessed you where taking a break from the blogging world I had no idea you had gone into hospital. Just reading what you had put there reminded me so much of the day I was admitted in May, how I was taken care of by the Psychiatrist for those first long few hours rather than the nursing staff and I too often felt some of the nursing staff where a little discriminating to some patients over others. In fact it’s part of the reason why I have chosen Mental Health Nursing over Adult Nursing in the end as my branch for University next year because I hope from my own experiences as an inpatient I shall be more able to help and understand patients because having been there first hand I will see just how vulnerable you can feel, I personally was rather terrified at walking into the ward, not only was it my first time ever as a patient in hospital it was rather daunting going into a mixed psychiatric ward.

I soon picked out which staff where the ones I preferred over some who I felt where in the job for the wrong reasons, somewhere very approachable, and others couldn’t care less. At first one of the staff who kind of scared me turned out to be one of the more approachable and most honest of them all. I probably got most of my support from talking to the three students all first years on the ward who where the ones who worked on me and persuaded me to go for my interview to the college which I got through when I was in the hospital! If it perhaps wasn’t for them I wouldn’t be where I was now!

I am sorry you are having a rough time of it now but you are in the right place... and I hope your trial at home works out okay for you. Please take it one day at a time, take care of yourself x

Nikita said...

I am sorry to hear about your experiences in hospital. Your statement re the nurses, I found this also while doing my training. Some of the nurses were nice people, but it appeared to me that they had chosen the wrong career. My regard for a patient was as, if this was me, how would I like to be treated.

I hope things improve for you soon and take care.