Tuesday, 3 February 2009

The Insanity of Hospital

The Insanity of Hospital

I said in my first post that I would write about my experience of hospital and for some reason I’ve been thinking about it a lot today so here goes.

The first time I went into hospital last year was due to a manic episode, my CPN and doctor visited me at home after friends had reported their concerns about me. I went into the unit voluntarily bur once I was there I was put under section because I asked to leave and they rightly thought I was at risk.

I found the whole experience confusing and traumatic, I'll list below some of the reasons why.

I was manic so had a lot of energy and tended to pace around the ward a lot, I wasn’t aggressive or violent just pacing. The staff constantly threatened me with sedation which seemed crazy to me because here I was in the safe place everybody had recommended, just trying to use up my energy.

The first 10 days even with LOTS of medication found me waking every couple of hours and leaving my room, these actions were met again with threats of injections and not one iota of compassion.

A friend I made offered me crack and heroin; I couldn’t fathom how she had a pipe and various paraphernalia in her room without anyone knowing. I declined her offer by the way, crack and mania are not a great combination, I've tried crack once whilst on a high, never, ever again.

A woman, who came to my room at all hours of the day and night for money and tobacco, bullied me. She had to pass the nurses station to get to my room but they obviously had their eyes closed, I was too scared to report her as I witnessed her violence. Was this ward really my ‘place of safety’?

The food was absolutely shameful and many times I couldn’t eat it, staff translated this as a misdemeanour on my part and in ward round it went against me. The consultant said she wanted me to get my appetite back as part of her considerations in discharging me. I was starving most of the time, but the food made me sick.

I wasn’t searched on admission and friends visited me with goodies, clothes and once a bottle of wine. There didn’t seem to be any security on the wards.

Once I began to come down from my high I retreated more and more to my room because I found being with 17 other ill women pretty stressful. This was perceived as ‘isolating’ myself.

Even though there was an OT department I wasn’t referred until 2 days before discharge, I had complained constantly of boredom.

There were some lovely nurses but they seemed snowed under with paperwork at the nurse’s station, the staff on the ward were from agencies and didn’t seem to give a damn about patients; they mostly talked amongst themselves, in various languages.

So hospital is now somewhere I would avoid at all costs and if I become ill again it’s going to take a section and a lot of force to get me there, I think I’ll leave London if it’s even discussed, such is my fear. I think this is a shame because I know that it was necessary, but I came out feeling much worse and with even less faith in the ‘system’.


  1. "There were some lovely nurses but they seemed snowed under with paperwork at the nurse’s station . . ."
    That really makes me so so uncomfortable.

    I don't work in London, I've colleagues who do. I must confess I'd not work there for love nor money and sadly in-patient services are said to be pretty much as you've described.

  2. It does sound horrible. What strikes me is that all the things you've written about are perfectly rational, but were written off as irrational because you were ill at the time. Thanks, as this will make me consider that possibility in future patients.

  3. It is superb that you are writing about your illness and it definitely is a step towards reducing the stigma against mental illness in our society. I am a counselor working in Sri Lanka and the stigma is one of the most prominent problems we face here. I am so proud of you for sharing your experiences.