My Hidden Experience In The Psych Ward.
Пост обновлен 1 янв. 2019 г.
A collaboration which delves into the personal story of one extraordinary lady and her mental Health Experience outside and inside the Mental Health Institution.
Welcome to a brand new week my lovely readers. This weeks first post is a collaboration with the amazing and dearest friend Lauren Armstrong who I have studied besides in my old college. Lauren has her own YouTube channel which you can find in the Fellow Bloggers Page. (Please check her out, she is a true inspiration and also bundles of fun).
Together we found that mental health was a taboo subject, even when studying it for our A-Levels, discussions within the lectures were dampened down and a sensitive and diluted form of content was given to us. Lauren and I became frustrated with the lack of reality behind the lessons in Mental Health. As my followers would know, I suffer from an array of mental illnesses - if you don't know or are a new reader, all the details are in another blog post (Click Here for more information). Lauren is also as open with her diagnosis as I am, and we are working together to get the word out that being mentally ill isn't bad, it isn't a disease that infects everyone you come into contact with, its a manageable illness that can be treated with the right care. Today, I have the pleasure of working with Lauren to bring you her experience within the Mental Health Institutions, bringing the raw reality of what these hospitals are like. Aiming to remove the stigma behind being mentally ill.
Please remain open minded and respectful when reading this blog, inappropriate comments will not be tolerated for the respect of Lauren but also other sufferers.
Here is Laurens story.
Maybe it's ironic that I'm writing this currently in a Secure Psychiatric Unit...Deep huh.
You see that's what mental illness is. Deep. It's not all the glamour that seems to surround Mental Illness lately or the trends that 'if you have a mental illness then you are suddenly "cool"'.
Excuse me? Since when did an imbalance of chemicals in the brain , at what point did life altering illnesses become cool?
Right now I'm surrounded by people with severe Mental Illnesses maybe including myself but I won't ever admit that I am included in that category. You see I'm the girl who does well at things whether it's education or sports. I give it my all and always strive for perfection. I mean I guess I have to with my goal of being a Doctor. Maybe that's even more ironic, wanting to strive to be a doctor yet here I am surrounded by doctors trying to keep me safe from my own mind. How ironic. I want to write this to create a guide for other people who are going through similar experiences or maybe to tell you the truths about Mental Illness instead of believing what you see on the television and through the medias perception.
Life on the psych ward or as most people call it 'The mental hospital' or maybe even the 'nut house', whatever you want to call it. It has one purpose. To yourself safe. You see, people who are admitted to a psychiatric hospital are deemed to be too much of a risk to either themselves or the public BUT we not "crazy" or dangerous as many may automatically think. We are individuals, just like you, who have dreams / families ect. So here is some advice, please, next time you decide to call someone out for being crazy just think twice on what you really are saying. Your words may be harmless to you, but names like that come with a stigma that do not need to be given to someone who is trying to recover from their diagnosis.
My first day on an adult psychiatric unit - much different to a friendly child's unit.
I've been welcomed by all the nurses and the staff, first impressions are that they are all generally nice. Yet everyone in here is going through struggles, although the nurses and doctors look calm and professional. Sometimes the struggles can be seen obviously by the way that they act, without making myself sound like I'm placing patients into stereotypes, yet sometimes it's less obvious. Such as me. Currently I'm sat here with my blanket from the General Hospital draped around my shoulders and my childhood teddy stuck under my arm. I probably look around 10 let's face it. Yet it's the small comforts which matter right now, things that wouldn't matter outside the hospital like slippers and a teddy. Although these home comforts supply a temporary safe heaven, around me I can here the banging of the doors slamming and patients go an and out sometimes the alarm will sound to alert staff to a possible emergency. Here that emergency could be anything, from a patient who pressed it accidentally or to a patient trying to kill themselves, its a surreal environment to be in.
Personally, I haven't washed in god knows how long and my teeth have that furry feeling from not brushing them and not to mention the grease in my hair. Gross right? It definitely feels gross! I believe many people have a very distorted view of what it is like being in the "mental hospital". I mean what's the first image that pops in your mind? Honestly. I bet it would be a padded room with a patient restrained rocking back and forth. Unfortunately that view is all to common. Although it's not a 5 star hotel, it's not all that bad. Within my room I have a bed, a desk, some cabinets and a toilet. But you also have the gardens the lounge area and therapy rooms. But don't let that fool you. It's scary as anything, hence why my teddy is still stuck under my arm!
I feel different to other patients at psychiatric hospitals, and so I've been told by different doctors. I am. I'm not quite sure why but maybe it's because I have somewhat of an insight into people's minds. It's a difficult one to explain but I'm not totally lost right now, even though I've been told my reality is distorted maybe that's a good thing. Maybe it allows me to be able to see things more clearly but I can see that people in here are struggling and I want to reach out to every single one of them to help them get I know I'm unable to do that. I'm not a professional but still that desire to help other people is still there. If only the human race was a little more caring, understanding and willing to accept those with mental health issues there wouldn't be such a stigma surrounding it. And yes there is still a stigma no matter what anyone will tell you. There is and it will never dissolve.
When I arrived here I was surrounded by locked doors and my bag was immediately taken away from me to be searched, I had to have physical examinations to make sure I was okay, once that had been confirmed I was then seen by 2 doctors to go over my mental health background very briefly. When I was shown to my room it was at that point when realisation hit me. Everything hit at once and I couldn't even describe the feelings I felt. Yet it seemed the only thing I was concerned about was my exams but that's a whole different topic! You see when you get to this point you have to reflect back on what led to it , you have to find out the triggers yet I wasn't even fully aware of what was wrong with me, how on earth could I figure out what was going on in my own head? Everything was spinning and spinning and I couldn't figure out what was happening or what I was even thinking. All I knew is that I was stuck here and I couldn't get out. How could have this happened again? You heard it right, this wasn't my first time here.
So I try to digest why I'm here, and go through a timeline of what help I received along with the mental dissection of my independent diagnosis.
CAMHs- Child and Adolescence Mental Health Service - My First Dissection.
For those who have been through this, I can imagine you are probably gritting your teeth right now and rolling your eyes OR your one of the lucky ones who have had a positive experience. I was referred to CAMHS through my GP when I was 10 and stayed with them till I was 18 and boy have I had mixed experiences. Mainly negative might I just add. When I was first referred to CAMHS they believed I had signs of an attachment disorder. They believed the right way forward was family therapy - they were wrong. What they didn't understand is that my family relations were already destroyed and I didn't want to build new ones so I would sit in this room while they tried to mend what was broken and were never to be fixed. As my mental health go worse I became involved in more services and as hospital admissions became more frequent I was required to see CAMHS more frequently. Now don't get me wrong I'm sure not all CAMHS workers are bad in fact I had the pleasure of working with a great Lady for several months. However with the cuts being placed on the NHS my time with her was limited. With CAMHS you hear all sorts of horror stories and just by putting the hashtag #camhs on twitter you will realise what I mean. I was involved with two other agencies but they were linked to specialist mental health as well as CAMHS Eating Disorder Service. Unfortunately I can say I didn't find them useful. I've always blamed myself though. I've thought well why aren't I getting better? What am I doing wrong? It must be me. I'm sure people with mental illness have been told several times - "it will get better" , " you have to give it time" every time I was told this I would politely smile and be thinking well I've given it 11 years and it's only getting worse, how could people claim that it gets better?
So can CAMHS claim responsibility or do I with my latest admission?
OCD- Obsessive Compulsive Disorder - My Second Dissection
What's the first thing that pops up in your mind. Someone cleaning obsessively? That was my first impression of what I believed OCD was. However I was wrong to think that this was the only symptom and when I first started developing symptoms from around age 8/9 I at first had no idea that it could consume my life in my later ages. When I was younger I would have obsessions such as blinking my eyes as tight as I could a certain number of times - always having to be even.
It developed into having to turn of lights on and off on and off. I then began having to touch things a certain number of times or perform acts a certain number of times. Obsessions and compulsions can change over time. Right now I am obsessed with symmetry and having things in order. I hate when certain things are out of place and I still have to touch certain objects a number of times. Yet to look at me you would most probably just think I'm very tidy. The word OCD is thrown around a lot "ohhh you have things in alphabetical order your soooo OCD" NO. Pleases stop right there. Someone can be tidy and not have OCD. You see with OCD there is a compulsion to perform a certain act. A compulsion that can't be controlled. A lot of people with OCD believe that something terrible might happen to them or a family meme we if they don't fulfil these compulsions. For me it was just a matter of things being just not right. It's a difficult concept to explain but if I don't carry out these compulsions it will eat away at me and I wouldn't be able to shake it of my mind as well as causing me to have anxiety.
Was my OCD to blame for all of this?
Anxiety - Anxiety disorders - My Third dissection
Well I can tell you and awful lot about this. Now let's make this clear everyone has anxiety to a certain degree whether it's a job interview or a date. We all get nervous. However it's when this anxiety starts to consume your life that it becomes a problem. I've had anxiety issues since I was little although if you truly know me you probably would guess this as I often come across as Gobby and loud. However this can also be me trying to hide the fact that inside I'm scared of every damm thing. I'm scared that when I speak something comes out wrong or that something bad is going to happen indefinitely. For example right now I'm worried that I've hurt my best friend, my other friend hates me, overthinking and panicking about what the other friend said, worried I'm going crazy, that someone ss going to hate me and the list goes on. All these thoughts go through my head at once and I have no way to stop them. I often just want a break from my own mind. For it to stop and be quiet yet I don't know how to stop it. There may be physical signs of me being anxious whether it's me shaking my foot or biting my nails however there's also the less obvious signs of anxiety which may be aggression of avoiding certain places. If someone has anxiety please be patient with them. They may want to do things or have plans but sometimes anxiety takes over and consumes your every thought and action. It's like there's a loop tape with everything that could wrong and you know that every little thing that you think can go wrong is irrational but your unable to stop it. The constant butterflies in your stomach and the guilt yet again that you are unable to or be affected my little things that people without anxiety are unable to do. The wish that you could be like them. To not have the paranoia that you are walking into a battle field where the enemy is your own mind. To be able to live normally without fears of every little thing in the world. What a paradise that would be.
Is this all because of my anxiety?
Self Harm - Inability to love oneself - My Fourth dissection
Now self harm could mean anything where you are inflicting pain upon oneself whether that be cutting, burning, head bashing. You get the idea. For me it was cutting or purposely bashing my bones against objects to fracture/ break them. Now for those without a mental illness your probably once again having those thoughts of "she's crazy" going through your mind but please listen when I tell you why. When you feel so empty. So empty that you can't move, sometimes you just want to be able to feel something. When you cut all you can focus on is the blood and how it slowly goes down your arm. Your temporally distracted from everything that is happening in your life and all you can focus on is the cuts. Now there's a lot of labels which are thrown out there for someone who self harms ; "crazy" "attention seeker" "deluded" "mental". All of these are incorrect.
You do not realise the pain that someone is going through when they self harm. Whether the self harm is bad or not, the amount of mental pain a person goes through when they begin to self harm is something that shouldn't be ignored. It needs addressing As like all things it can become an addiction. For me it has been my addiction for the last 8 years. When someone self harms it releases chemicals in the brain which makes you feel more relaxed or a sense or euphoria however every time you do this you become trapped in a cycle as you want to do it more and more to get these positive feelings back. This cycle is almost impossible to break out of and I only wish that I could. This other friend M said something to me once which made me rethink everything.
He said what will happen if your kids look at it one day and they start asking where they come from.
This hit me. Although I would tell my child the truth when they were older to understand it would break my heart for them to ask while praying that they would never have to find out why people do this.
Was it my self harming that did this?
Eating - we all have to eat to stay alive right? - My Fifth Dissection
I've had issues with my eating since I was around 13 it started with overeating but I didn't fully know that it was overeating at the time. However when I realised that I was becoming over weight. I made plans to go on a diet to lose weight. I became a healthy weight and that should have been it but it didn't stop there. I was probably 15 when I started to visit "pro ana" websites. Where people suffering with eating disorders will give you "tips". This isn't a healthy way to lose weight believe me. When I was 16/17 I started to get serious and I was restricting my calorie input more and more it got to the point where I believed that 400 calories a day was far too much. I would also have days where I wouldn't eat nothing. You see when you continually lose weight it distorts how you see yourself. The more weight I lost - the bigger I believed I was and hence became the cycle of restricting more. Eating was all I thought about. The numbers spinning around in my head, how
many calories I could lose to lose X amount of weight. Weighing myself was torture and if I had gained I felt like I was paralysed. With restricting there then comes the binging - when you starve yourself for so long your body is just craving anything so I would binge on bizarre stuff even chilli powder! However the guilt that comes after a binge is dreadful ad hence became my unhealthy methods to deal with it , I would misuse laxatives in order to mentally deal with the effects of binging when in reality all it was doing was dehydrating me. Messy business hey? I ended up in hospital after an overdose when I was 17 and this was when they discovered my eating issues. I refused to eat or drink anything and after a week of not eating and 4/5 days without water my body was starting to shut down and doctors explained that I was going to fall into a coma due to my blood sugars. It was then when I was sectioned. Yet I still didn't care. My eating disorder went into overdrive and I physically couldn't eat. I was moved to a children's ward and had to begin the stages if re eating very slowly in order to avoid re feeding syndrome. In the beginning stages I couldn't even eat a 2 inch slice of bread as I was paralysed by fear but eventually I started to accept that I was ill mentally and physically and I needed to start to re fuel my body. To this day I still have issues with my eating and I believe I will for the rest of life. I still struggle with viewing myself as fat and how others perceive me but I hope that one day I won't have to know the calories of what I put in my mouth. I hope one day I will be able to eat what I want and not because it fits in with a certain amount of calories. My advice for anyone who is struggling or having thoughts around eating is to get help early. With early help people can try and help you before it gets too late as the harder you fall into an eating disorder the harder it gets to get out of it.
But was this my eating disorder fault?
The thing is, I soon came to realise that this wasn't anything or anyone's fault. It came to my realisation that I was the only one with the power to remove this victim blaming and resource blaming. With my hard work and power I was able to being my recovery process, but in this society where mental illness is attention seeking and is regarded as a 'fake' disability recovery is harder to undertake. This stigma attached to those with mental illnesses need to be removed, stereotypes need to be stripped and as a society it need to be a priority to take care of fellow members; work colleges, children, friends, elderly neighbours. They all matter, lives matter, sanity matters. No-one deserves to go through the horror of a Psychiatric Hospital, mental dissections and blame needs to be dampened. Don't be the hidden, be the seen, be the heard, be the felt. Be you and be proud.
Remember to visit the Seek Help page to find websites and phone numbers that can be of help to you, or even friends or family.
Donate to my chosen charity found on the Donations Page, to support teenagers and young adults like Lauren and I.
Lastly I want to congratulate my amazing friend Lauren in being so truthful and open in this collaboration. I also want to give a huge shout out to those who have survived there own battles and are currently going through issues, you have got this and we are all behind you. If you need someone to talk too, please use the chance to email me through my Contact Page.