Psych Ward Day 1

Being wheeled over from the ED to the psych ward in the middle of the night meant the halls of the hospital were eerily dark and quiet. This did not help the slightest in easing the fear that I felt. Upon arrival at D block, an elderly nurse with a European accent came up and took me down the elevator. I was not prepared for a psychiatric admission, and only had on a hospital gown and in my possession the clothes I had worn in getting to the ED. “Is that all you have?” the nurse queried. I confirmed in the affirmative. I was told to sit down on the couch in front of the nurses station for a while. Most of the lights were off, the rest of the patients were in bed, and I was left to check out my surroundings where I noted the posters and pamphlets on the wall, the TV in the corner and the small Christmas tree with it’s flashing lights. A while later, the same nurse led me into an interview room where the admission papers were filled out. “History of self harm or suicide?” she asked. “…Yes,” I admitted. “History of violence or aggression?” I smirked a little. “No.” “History of absconding?” “Um…what’s that?” I asked. “Running away,” she stated. “No,” I replied. “Do you have any recent wounds?” she asked a little further along. I confirmed yes. “Show me,” she commanded. I obliged in lifting up the hospital gown to show her the cuts and scars on my thighs. “Do you have any sharps with you?” she asked. I thought of the razor blade in my bag and a second’s hesitation later I answered no. Eventually the papers were completed and she led me to my room.

My bed on the ward

There were four beds per room, each bed separated into cubicles by curtains. My sleep was unfortunately hindered by very loud snoring and as a consequence I only managed a couple of hours. I regretted declining the offer of temezapam earlier.

My
curtained cubicle- four in each room

In the morning, my assigned nurse came to show me to the dining room where I had my first meal at the hospital. A couple of the other patients introduced themselves to me. “I thought you were one of the staff!” one said.

Dining Room

Late morning, my name was called over the loudspeaker. “Patient BtF to the nurses station, patient BtF.” Still groggy from the nap I was taking, I made my way out of the room. I was intercepted halfway by two of the doctors who asked whether I was BtF. When it was established I was indeed the person they were looking for, I was led to an interview room where another psychiatrist was waiting.

Upon walking into the room I felt a bit threatened as meeting with one psychiatrist is nerve wracking enough, let alone three. The apparent head psychiatrist made me feel a bit more at ease though and tried to make light of it, which I thought was excellent. “I know it’s intimidating when there’s three of us and one of you, but we like to gang up on people, it makes us feel powerful,” he joked. He explained that it was so I wouldn’t have to repeat everything three times, as there are three doctors on each patient’s case. Only the male psychiatrist did all the talking, while the two other female doctors sat and took notes. There was the usual history taking, and I was inevitably asked what led to the overdose that brought me to the psych ward in the first place. I suggested that going off my medication could’ve contributed to it. And the feeling of hopelessness that yet another treatment didn’t work out. I said that I had been feeling this OD coming on for the week or two previously. I was asked what I OD’d on and what symptoms I experienced as a result. He warned me of the dangers of paracetamol overdose, of needing liver transplants. He’s not the only one to have done so. Unfortunately I fail to take heed of their warnings…

I was then asked when was my last overdose prior to this one. “About three weeks ago…” I admitted. Told him it was done on impulse. “Usually when someone does something like this on impulse, there’s something that triggers the impulse. So what made you do it?” I took a few moments to gather my thoughts and swallow my shame. I explained with embarrassment that it was because my psychiatrist had told me she doesn’t see many patients who don’t take medication which I took to mean she wouldn’t see me as a patient anymore. “So it’s a feeling of being abandoned and rejected?” he asked. “Yes,” I admitted. “How are your relationships?” he asked. Ahh. I could see where he was going with this then. BPD, BPD! Told him I had yet to have any, as no one’s been interested in me. He advised me, “If a doctor is going to stop seeing you, they’re likely to tell you, “I’m going to stop seeing you.”. And if you’re not sure, you can always ask, “Does that mean you’re going to stop seeing me?”” Right. I smiled sheepishly at him. The result is that I’m back on the Lexapro, though 10mg instead of the previous 20mg, and he wants to refer me to do DBT, which will also have to be discussed with my regular psychiatrist. “What you have is very treatable,” he told me. I looked at him disbelievingly. “You don’t have schizophrenia, you don’t have bipolar and you don’t have unilateral recurrent depression.” I pondered the last one. Unilateral = not bipolar. Recurrent = reoccurring. Right. So I don’t have that apparently, though this depression does feel a bit bloody recurrent. He told me that I could go home the next afternoon or the morning after that. “I don’t think spending days and days in hospital is going to do you any good. It’s a cushy place, you’re away from outside stresses, but at the same time it’s not a nice place to be. So I think it allows the dust to settle while you’re here, but if you think that being in hospital is making things 100% worse, you can tell the nurses that you want to go home.”

While in the TV room during the afternoon, one of the patients asked, “Are you okay?” “Yes,” I tried to say. The tears that were starting to form probably gave me away though. “No you’re not, I can tell,” she said. “You need to talk. It helps. Not to me, but to the nurses.” Which is well and all, except the nurses were no where to be found. And I’m not one to be able to go seek someone out.

Attended the Emergency Planning group in the afternoon with the social worker and two other patients. Wrote down identifiers of when we’re starting to get stressed, ‘positive affirmations,’ who we can contact…. Unfortunately this was not helpful at all as writing it down is much easier than putting it into action when you are in a crisis.

Later in the afternoon my parents and younger brother came to visit me on the ward. Mum brought my clothes and toiletries, so I was able to freshen up in this lovely shower…

The shower in our room

And while we’re at it, here’s the toilet…

Toilet in our room

The night shift nurse came to talk to me at the beginning of the shift. With her job done she left me alone after that. She told me about the need to have a plan in place in the event of a crisis. She gave me an example with her, in case Avian flu were ever to hit Australia. She told me of a kit she has at home, with paper towels, gloves and she’d like to have face masks in it too. Ooooookay then. A little over the top perhaps? But what do I know, I’m just a mental… And so concluded my first day in the psych ward. Day 2 coming up next…

8 thoughts on “Psych Ward Day 1

  1. thanks for your honesty
    I’ve been hospitalised recently again & its not a good experience.
    If you don’t mind me asking a question, how did you take photos? I always had my belongings taken from me so it seems unusual to me.

    • I hope hospital goes okay for you.
      To answer your question, we were allowed mobile phones on the ward. So I just took photos from my mobile, and staff were mostly no where to be seen, which made it convenient.

  2. The first admission to a psych ward is scary and the second not much better. Your discription of your ward makes me think that the set up of the wards are very similar to here in the UK. No time is a good time to be admitted but that close to xmas must have been horrible. Hope things are a bit better for you Sending Hugs xx

  3. It sounds like that hospital is a relatively good hospital. I remember the second hospital I was taken to last March was awful. I slept all day because I got sick of reading the same book over and over, and at night I tried not to get assaulted by the other violent men in the ward. I was clearly misplaced as I was the only female and probably the only one without a police record.

    Anyway, the line “Too young and beautiful” really struck a chord with me. You are young, and you are beautiful. But it just goes to show that these things don’t necessarily bring happiness. But please remember that you ARE beautiful and you deserve to have everything you want in life.

    Wishing you well,
    NOS

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