Far be it from me –

Kind Words Could Make A Difference

Kind Words Could Make A Difference – first published on the Mind Blog on 25 November 2011


I was 37 when I became psychotic. I was hospitalised for six months, sectioned and underwent six treatments of electroconvulsive therapy (ECT).

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.


10 responses to “Kind Words Could Make A Difference

  1. Thankyou for this post, I am a big fan of this website would like to go on updated.


  2. Madeleine MC Mahon says:

    Straight to my heart these words went.


  3. Vivien Sabel says:

    What a frank and honest account of your experience. It sounds awful. I’ve worked in a secure setting and am so aware of how much support individuals require. I am also aware of the lack of finance and funding available to implement what is really needed.


    • judithhaire says:

      Thank you very much. It was awful. It hampered my recovery. If the support is not given then individuals should not be in psychiatric hospital at all. It’s no more than a warehouse. Something must be done. Thanks so much for reading my account and for commenting
      kind regards judith


    • Kindness does not require funding! Staff in these hospitals need to be more compassionate! Compassion and kindness is really needed and funds are not going to implement compassion and kindness!
      I love your post Judith and I agree with you 100% that kind words can make all the difference….


  4. I’m afraid that there has been very little improvement, but we keep banging away… hoping. A great account, sorry that you had to go through the crap in order to write it. Take care 🙂


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