Wednesday, 1 June 2016

Supporting friends, family or colleagues in M H hospitals

Just thought it would be good to write about how I would have liked to have been supported in hospital and what I noticed other people going through.
When you are admitted onto a mental heslth ward it is a frightening and overwhelming experience. Everything you do, say and have around you is closely monitored and you lose you sense of self identity.
On entry you are searched and every bit of your belongings are searched. Personal items can be taken away or withheld and you feel so ashamed and humiliated. Even your underwear is examined. Items that you expect to be taken off you sometimes aren't but silly personal things can be - it doesn't always make sense.
Your bedroom does not have a fully closed door to the bathroom and there is little privacy due to the glass panels in the door and certain lights that are kept on all the time. Strategically placed mirrors mean that you are always in view of staff.
Initially there are 10 minute observations that can go down to one minute or constant observation and that means that you can never settle and are always on alert. You think about your every move and what you say and do.
The doctors assessment is invasive and detailed and you get asked weird questions that make you question if they think you have gone completely mad.
Staff treat you like a child and you get told what to do and when. We were even sent to bed!
So in that environment knowing friends and family are there for you is so important. Even a simple 'how are you' text means so much. Just send a text with 'thinking of you' - anything just to let them know they are not alone as I have never felt so alone in my life. Hours spent sat on that bed or in the chair aimlessly watching crap on the tele. It is soul destroying.
You don't need to visit but visits aren't as scary as you think and you going might be the difference between being able to go and get some fresh air or have someone to talk to about anything. It doesn't have to be doom and gloom.
A friend of mine came a couple of times a week and took me out for a coffee. I felt stupid having to be escorted but those afternoons helped me so much.
A letter, card or even some flowers brighten up your room. I didn't get any but some people decorated their rooms with things from friends which was so nice and thoughtful.
The food is crap and someone bought me some fruit - the nicest fruit I have ever tasted.
So don't be afraid to keep in touch with someone going through a hard time in hospital. They need your support more than ever - trust me I know x