Warning: If you are affected by self-harm or suicidal thoughts, or have experienced mistreatment by psychiatric staff this post may be triggering
This ward admission happened in August 2018 last year, so 12 months ago now.
I had overdosed, for the third time in 3 weeks, and was being assessed by a member of the local crisis team after being treated in A&E for the overdose.
She asked me the usual questions, was very nice, and explained that my care coordinator (mental health social worker) and my community psychiatrist had written emails to her asking her to admit me to a ward while they figured out how to avoid another incident. Spoiler: They changed nothing about my care, so this ward admission was entirely pointless.
She said that it was up to me, going into a ward I hadn’t been to before, or being followed (with phone calls) by the local home treatment team.
I’d been followed by the home treatment team before, and discharged from them, and was in A&E just hours later, with a broken heel (my mind went a bit crazy and I went out a first floor window)… So I wasn’t anxious to repeat that, and had no confidence they could help me.
Being offered a different ward was a surprise. Had it been the ward I’d been in before, I would have answered no – had a bad experience there.
I wasn’t keen on the idea, but as care co and community psych had recommended it, and I wanted to be as “not difficult” as possible, so I agreed to it.
I’ve never been accused of being difficult my my care co, psychiatrist, or any therapy staff I’d interacted with. Some ward staff on the ward I’d been on before this one had viewed by OCD behaviour as being deliberately troublesome though…
Arriving at the ward, a new environment was unpleasant, but insignificant compared to letting a psychiatric nurse search through my stuff, mixing up all the contaminated and non-contaminated objects. I just pretended it didn’t happen in order to cope, despite the fact I was standing there, watching it happen!!! It was still very awful though.
So far, mostly OK, nothing abnormally bad. Maybe I need to get a new definition of bad, but escaping all the stuff that’s bad beyond a “normal” perception would mean getting rid my my mental health condition, which (as of August 2019), really hasn’t gone away, yet…
The following day I was assessed by the consultant psychiatrist, who told me I was wasting everyone’s time with the repeated self-harm harm, and I should either finish the job, or stop trying.
She also suggested that morphine would be a far more effective drug to take (it would take effect in minutes, not days, which I already knew). My verbal response to here was “If it didn’t kill me, I’d be left with brain damage, and I wouldn’t know how to get hold of it anyway”. She didn’t respond to that.
Her knowledge of the effects of the medication I had been treated for before coming to her ward was a bit sketchy, she seemed to assume I’d have to take it multiple times in a week for it take effect, which I guess appears the same as taking it once, and waiting a few days for it to take effect.
After she had finished asking questions, she said she wanted to discharge me immediately. My reaction (internally): I let all my stuff get contaminated, and watched it, for nothing!! I asked her to telephone my care co first, and my care co persuaded her to keep me for another 24 hours. Technically I still hadn’t been forced to do anything at this point.
I guess this is the part where my actions triggered a reaction, I took several photos of people free areas of the ward, and no anyone’s room but mine. I did accidentally take a photo of all the patients names on the “meals orders” sheet, that’s my mistake.
After the assessment had completed, and I was back in my room in the ward the psych knocked on the door, which 3/4 nursing staff behind here.
I was then accused of recording the assessment, because I had my phone in hand, by the psych and I was told to hand over my phone and laptop.
My phone was in hand as I didn’t want to leave it anywhere, for fear of getting it contaminated by the surface it hit, and no, I didn’t record the meeting, kinda wish I did – I didn’t realise how unpleasant it would be.
I called my care co to ask her about my options, which came down to “it’s her ward, I can’t do anything”. I asked “could I leave the ward”, she said I could, as I was voluntary, she didn’t attempt to persuade me to stay. It seems the psychiatrist called my care co before approaching me about any issues, and told them she had evidence of my photographing staff!!!!
Strangely enough, that wasn’t mentioned on my discharge papers, as they wasn’t any evidence – I hadn’t taken any, the other photos were!
In my mind I took my care co not trying to persuade me to stay, as an indication it would no longer make me look “difficult” if I just got discharged.
I let them take my laptop and phone, and then asked to be discharged.
As I walked away from the hospital building (which contained the ward) my mind focussed on jumping in front of a train. I was angry, frustrated, and just wanted to stop feeling so awful.
Fortunately my care co called me just moments later, as she had been told by the ward they’d discharged me, and calmed me down just by letting me explain the events I had been subjected to, and how I felt.
Conclusion: I am NOT agreeing to go in another ward, ever again! I was in there less than 24 hours, but it left an outsized mark on my mind, even a year later, so many of the details of the incident are still in my mind. The overdosing taking a background position.
Fortunately no-one has advised me going in a ward again, even though I have overdosed twice since then, and burned myself multiple times.
The knowledge that I react badly to wards, and wards react badly to me, has persuaded my care staff that its counterproductive to admit me.
P.S. Ongoing CMHT assessment (August, this year) update, got a new care coordinator, the old one from my last time under the CMHT is going on maternity leave shortly. Discussed some stuff, apparently the extended assessment is for the CMHT to review me, and identify whether my problems are as “intractable” (their words, not mine) as they appear, and is there anything they can do that will help.
P.P.S. My only diagnosis is “Severe OCD”. I have been considered for other things, but that’s the only label which stuck.