“Have i gone mad? I’m afraid so, but let me tell you something, the best people usualy are.”
“Medication time ladies” are the first words I hear as I wake. It is 8am. I get myself up – still half asleep – and drowsily make my way to the small queue of patients waiting in line for their daily ‘awake’ drugs. As I move further up the queue and become more alert I wonder, as I usually do, why they bother to get us up so early. It just makes our days longer and the empty hours ahead until bedtime more daunting. I reach the front of the queue and am presented with my tablets. Vitamins to repair my body from the destruction Anorexia has put it through. An anti-depressant to make me happy. And an antipsychotic to help with my impulses. I down them in one. That is one thing I am good at now – taking tablets. I retreat to my bed space and draw the curtains around and am now faced with the daily decision of what to wear. I go for something comfy, after all, it is not as if I am going anywhere.
The day ahead is boring to say the least. It consists of doctors, nurses and social workers all wanting to review how I am. If I am lucky an Occupational Therapist might turn up and take me to the art room, but that is pretty rare. The activities nurse, however, does come twice a week. Other than that, there are set meal times where we are presented with the NHS’s finest. Visitors are allowed any time except meal times and after 9 which is good as my parents visit most weekends. In between meals I just relax in my bed space, watching Netflix or play pool with some of the other patients. At 9pm we get our daily ‘asleep’ drugs and are encouraged to go to bed soon after. I don’t complain, anything to make the day finish sooner.
My observation status dictates the level of freedom I have. If I am on constant observations I must have a nurse with me everywhere I go EVEN to the bathroom. Being on constant is horrible, they watch you sleep, eat and wash. There is no privacy whatsoever and you have to sleep with the light on. They also have special observations which means a nurse must be within arm’s reach of you at all times. This is horrendous as you cannot move without your shadow (aka nurse) moving as well. The next step down is general/escort observations. This means you can walk around the ward freely but you must have someone accompany you if you wish to leave. Finally, there is general observations where you can come and go as you please.
Looking back I can safely say that being in a psychiatric hospital is not even remotely fun it is simply boring – nothing much happens except for the odd patient kicking off. Some patients are voluntary and some, like me, were sectioned. Being sectioned is tough but now that I am better I know that they did it in my best interest and to keep me safe. Although at the time I was furious with them and distraught over the fact they were keeping me against my will.
Not all is bad though and I have made some of my best friends in hospital and goodness me we have had some laughs. You also meet some interesting characters, as well as some people that can be quite intimidating. But at the end of the day it is just a hospital like any other where fundamentally people are there to get better.
And that is it. I hope I have allowed people who were curious some insight into what it is like living on an inpatient ward and maybe put to bed some myths that psychiatric hospitals are basically asylms with ‘mental’ people running amock. I have met some of the most genuine, kind, caring and NORMAL people on psychiatric wards and just like me, they are not crazy just a little unwell.
Take care guys