I completed 7 full days. I asked – in great trauma and distress – on the 7th day to be released to go home as I was the most suicidal and out of control I’ve been in years and it was due to the treatment I received in hospital.
First let’s do the pros and cons, shall we?
The food was really nice. It was awesome to get a “menu” (I’ll try to attach photos) and all the options were really nice. We weren’t limited to “one choice” so if you really wanted to, you could have 6 meals delivered to you each time. The food was cooked well, presented nicely and it was awesome to get “room service” 3 times a day and sit on my bed or at my desk and eat peacefully. Mindfully. I loved the experience.
I found I didn’t eat as much as I do at home and it surprised me to find I didn’t eat ANY of the snacks I’d brought with me for my entire stay. Turns out, 3 square meals a day does wonders for binging and over-eating. I wouldn’t have guessed that.
Although “group therapy” was a complete waste of time for 70% of the week, for the other 30%, I actually learnt some really important life lessons. I learnt more about communicating effectively, how to get my point across without losing my temper and how to acknowledge the feelings of others WITHOUT backing down on my values. I also learnt that being a Christian is high on my values but very rarely carried out in real life. That was eye-opening and something I really need to change. I’m so sorry Jesus. I brought everything I thought I needed to hospital with me, but I left you behind. Some Christian I am, huh? Disgraceful.
I met some really great people in the other patients. We were all struggling with some really traumatic things, but we made time to support each other and that was a really lovely surprise. I’m so blessed to have made meaningful connections with really lovely people.
It was nice to have a “hotel style” hospital room which was tastefully decorated with my own bathroom. The peace it gave me having my own space was really lovely. I really appreciated that. Again, pictures to follow. I’d love to share “suite 76” with you. It was definitely nicer when Alun brought in pillows from home (goodbye horrible inflatable pillows) and my own comfy duvet instead of having to use thin, static-ey hospital blankets that were downright awful.
“Group Therapy” was too much!!! I had to race through breakfast, shower, change and RUN to be at 9:00am group on time every morning. For a facility that is built for REST, there wasn’t any time for it! Dealing with having to “actively participate” in stupid groups when you’ve not slept the night before is too much for so damn early in the morning. If group therapy was held from 11am instead of 9am for instance, at least patients get time to SLEEP, eat breakfast and LEISURELY get ready of a morning. I’m a morning person but 9am is too early to expect me to learn and grow mentally and emotionally. It’s too early. Too much. Too soon. Too full on.
“Behavioural Activation” on the daily timetable is code for “frustrating, stupid games” and was listed on our busy schedules almost 3 times a day 😳 that’s taking the p*ss, surely. The co ordinators leading the groups weren’t talking to each other, so after one frustrating session of “Guys! Let’s play scattergories!” (Booooooooo), we’d file wearily into our next group, only to be met with a different coordinator and a Gleeful invitation to “Play scattergories! Woohoo!”
Are you f**king kidding me?
We’d tell the coordinator we’d just done that and he/she would look so bereft, we’d all play it again (!!!) just to cheer them up. Then lunch break – which also had to be rushed – then afternoon group therapy which was MORE F**KING SCATERGORIES.
Every. Single. Day.
We’d get the odd HELPFUL class thrown into the mix of mind-numbing games which was a welcome change…but in my week at the Psych Ward, these HELPFUL classes were few and far between. It was like the coordinators were just there to waste time. Theirs and ours. It was sooo frustrating!!!
“Groups” were MANDATORY so any sense of agency, independence or respect for individual needs was thrown out the window. When I’d not slept for 5 days (!!!) and was finally nodding off at 8am the next morning (it had started raining heavily outside, I love the sound of rain and was nestling happily into my blankets when breakfast and my Day Nurse arrived). I pleaded with my Nurse to skip groups in favour of a much needed rest. She was angry about it. “You need to show active participation in your healing, Janet”. Err…I am? I’ve attended every group all bloody week and am losing my f**king mind not sleeping – so now that I CAN, I’d like to grab that opportunity with both hands, really. She frowned at me as if I’d drawn on the wall with crayon “I’ll have to tell your Psych” she threatened. I don’t care!!! Tell him I haven’t slept all week and will grab the chance now it’s here. Sighing loudly, she eventually relented “Ok Janet, you can miss ONE class (it was colouring in FFS), but you MUST attend the rest of the day’s sessions.
Yeah. Because God forbid I miss COLOURING and more f**king scattergories, hey?
I didn’t like the guilt she placed on me or the manipulation to attend classes or she’d “tell on me” to my Psych. Pfft.
Not cool, guys. Not cool.
Which leads me to my psychiatrist. Dr C. He would only see me ONCE a week (the hospital website promises DAILY psych appointments) and only for 20 minutes wherein HE did all the talking. Absolutely heart breaking because I’d done MY part and attended all groups but he wasn’t doing HIS part. There was no support, no counselling, no f**king HELP, just a check to see if I was taking my meds and a merry shove out the door. It all happened so quickly, it made me wonder if I had been seen to at all. Disgraceful.
On every shift, a Nurse would be allocated to a set of 2-5 patients. So 3 times a day, a new Nurse would knock on my door, introduce themselves and say “I’m here to counsel and support you at ANY time, Janet. Just ring your buzzer when you want to talk and I’ll be here”
Oh. Ok. That’s actually really lovely.
Except when I DID ring the buzzer, I got belittled and shut down every single time.
First, the interrogation “Why did you ring the bell?!?”
Err…you told me to?
Then the annoyed sigh “Well? What do you want?”
This made me cry instantly. I don’t like conflict and was BROKEN so that’s why I was a patient in HOSPITAL. Why was I having to explain myself?
I’d force out my answer “I um…I’m grieving the loss of my Dad/hurting over my family/trying not to kill myself”
Which was always met with some sort of pre-recorded bullsh*t: “why Don’t you practice mindfulness?” (What the f**k does that even MEAN???) “Why don’t you do some colouring in?” “Why don’t you have a little nap?” “Have you tried being POSITIVE instead of suicidal, Janet?”
After many, many attempts to get help during my week in the Psych Ward, rising fear and anxiety and a strong urge to in fact KILL MYSELF so they’d know I was serious when I begged “please help me” and that “just being a bit more positive” wasn’t going to solve everything in my life…I asked to leave.
Oh wow. That’s when everything kicked off.
Doctors arrived suddenly in droves “Please don’t leave…what can we do to make you stay?”
Just LISTEN TO ME. Can you do that?
“Oh…uhh…about that…” and one by one, Doctors would leave. As if I’d asked them to chop a limb off for me.
Senior staff arrived “We are so sorry you’ve had such a bad week. Please try another few weeks as you are not well enough to leave and we worry for your safety”
Ok good. Because my plan is to hang myself. Can you – or ANYONE in this place make time to JUST LISTEN TO ME?
“Ohhhh…err…what we think is…umm…we could offer you some sedatives”
I don’t want them. I want someone to HEAR, SEE and RESPOND APPROPRIATELY to me.
“Oh…Janet, the thing is…”
“We aren’t quite sure…”
“Err…would you like to do some breathing exercises?”
No. I really wouldn’t. I just want someone to TALK to who isn’t going to belittle me or shut me down.
“How about some meditation?”
How about some f**king HELP???
“Err…we’ll get a Doctor in to see you”
And this frustrating merry-go-round went around and around for 2 hours. By the end of it, NOONE HAD HELPED me. I was RAGING.
Doctor: How about attending more groups?
Me: I f**king hate groups.
Doctor 2: How about we exempt you from groups?
Me: To do what instead?
Doctor 3: Oh. Umm…
I was quickly losing the will to live. Seriously guys.
Me: Can I at LEAST get another psychiatrist who will actually see me more than once every 7 f**king days for more than 20 minutes?
“Err no…the other Psychiatrists are booked out until some time next year”
Of course they are. They’re the ones who are providing GOOD mental health care to their patients.
“Right. Can I just go home, then? Please?”
Defeated group of Doctors, Nurses, coordinators, registrars and Psychs: “Yes”
So there you go.
How much is a sturdy rope?