Kind Words Could Make A Difference
I‘d grown up in a in a dysfunctional family and I married an abusive man. I found the courage to leave the marriage and after a breakdown lasting a few weeks I returned to work.
With hindsight, bottling up my emotions was wrong. In time my levels of anxiety rocketed and I became agitated, leading to psychosis.
I was living alone and it was a week before anyone realised. I had terrifying hallucinations; visual and auditory.
On admission to hospital I was catatonic, mute and refusing food and drink. I believed I was dead and in a state of metamorphosis.
Once I became fully aware of my surroundings my distress levels increased as I felt very homesick and very isolated.
The staff stayed in the office for much of the time and the door was kept shut.
I felt very intimidated by most of the staff and nervous about asking for anything. I would have appreciated a cup of tea and a chat with the staff; but they seemed distant and distracted.
I rarely saw a doctor. I remember my partner coming to visit me and the nurse telling him he shouldn’t bother coming to see me as I was in a world of my own.
At the time I did not realise that I was the only one experiencing these hallucinations and a reassuring word from the staff would have helped.
Once, at midnight I was very tearful and missing home. I asked to speak to a nurse but she was too busy to talk to me and I had to wait until the morning.
Another nurse was reading a novel when I needed to talk, and she said she wanted to finish her book.
I was very frightened of eating meals with the other patients, as I found them threatening.
I had to be coaxed to eat and this was misinterpreted by the staff as a sign that I was incapable of looking after myself. They could not understand or notice my fears.
One nurse noticed my anxiety before a meal and prescribed me Diazepam. He later apologised for this saying he should have realised my anxiety was hunger related.
At the time I was taking about 22 tablets a day and did not need extra toxins for my liver.
I wished there was more to do in the psychiatric ward. I had to ask for the radio to be turned on so I could hear some music.
I was asked to attend groups. I went to one which involved sitting in a circle and talking about our thoughts. This only reinforced the idea that I was ill and I refused to go to any more groups.
I realised I could be sitting at home, with support, in familiar surroundings. If I was in acute care, then I expected more attention and care than I was receiving. Otherwise, what was the point of being there?
At one point I had to share a room with a patient who spent all night talking about God and the Devil. This kept me awake and added to my fears.
The ward was bleak; there was nothing welcoming or homely about the place. A lot of my clothes went missing and later the trust paid me £10 in compensation which was not good enough.
There was little reassurance and little evidence that the staff knew how isolated and frightened I actually was.
I hope that the standard of care has improved making it worthwhile for a patient to receive acute care.