What’s It Like To Be Admitted To A Psychiatric Ward?

At home I always thought that I needed my room to be in total darkness and complete silence in order for me to sleep but my time spent on psychiatric wards have taught me that I can sleep through anything. I can sleep through the torch being shone on me every 15 minutes throughout the night and I can sleep with my light on and no pillows or blankets. I can sleep on a plastic mattress and I have no problem sleeping whilst someone sits on a chair at the end of my bed and watches me constantly.

Gone are the days of playing music or putting the hand driers on so that nobody can hear me wee because now I am watched and it’s happened so much that I’m used it it now. I’m used to having someone stare at me whilst I go to the toilet and whilst I wipe and pull my trousers back up. I used to care so much about keeping my bathroom trips private but I’m sure I could go to the toilet anywhere now.

Every morning my wake up call is staff walking up and down the corridor shouting, “Breakfast!” at 8am. My night medication is usually still in my system making getting out of bed pretty difficult but if I fall asleep then that’s no breakfast for me today. I often wonder why they get us out of bed at 8am, it’s not like I’ve got anywhere to go or anything to do.

I try to drag out getting dressed so that it takes up some of the time that passes so slowly. Showers on the ward take a lot of effort and time anyway as you have to find staff to unlock a cupboard and give you towels and you pray the member of staff is one that will allow three towels as they are practically the size of tea towels. Then you have to get staff to get you shampoo/body wash from the clinic. It’s always bright orange liquid put in a plastic cup. Next comes to shower itself…you know in a public toilet where you have to push the tap for all 30 seconds of water to dribble out…well that’s our showers. The water is either freezing cold or burning my skin and I find myself wishing I had an extra hand as I try to wash my hair and keep pressing the button to get water out of the shower. I’m also aware that I’m either being watched constantly or someone could burst into the room at any moment. I’ve mastered the whole getting undressed and throwing clothes out of the side of the shower curtain but getting dried and dressed isn’t so easy or subtle. I tell myself that the staff have seen it all before and then I just get on with it.

The rest of the day is a mixture of eating (guaranteed it’ll be jacket potato) and medication and sometimes some boredom too as they take everything off of me from wool and sewing needles to sometimes everything in my room depending on how well I am. I tend to nap the rest of the day away.

Fresh air feels like a novelty, I’ve got no clue of what the temperature is outside and most days I don’t even notice if it’s raining or sunny.

The concept of time is weird in hospital…weeks either fly by or an hour seems like a century.

There’s laughter, tears, anger, struggles and overwhelming home sickness as the world outside feels a million miles away from my reach.

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7 thoughts on “What’s It Like To Be Admitted To A Psychiatric Ward?

  1. Hi Claire, my name is Gabby O’Donnell and I’m a journalist working for BBC News and the main BBC1 6pm and 10pm bulletins which go out everyday.

    Our programme has recently been nominated for MIND award for BEST NEWS COVERAGE on mental health and I was involved in a lot of the work behind it, so I am very excited about it – like you must be for your nomination- so massive congratulations for that- it’s so deserving.

    Anyway sorry for dropping you a line out of the blue like this, but I’m now working on a big new project on mental health for January 2016 and one of the pieces I’m working on specifically is about the young men and women, like yourself, who are using online space and social media to document their experiences of mental health illnesses to try and breakdown those old barriers around the issue for young people and new audiences. It’s very much a piece about breaking down social taboos and how positive that can be when it comes to mental health.

    I would love for you to be a part of that piece for TV. It will very much include other male and female bloggers and vloggers who are doing the same as you in talking about their mental health experiences.

    There is absolutely no pressure to be involved of course, but your video and articles are so incredible- you speak so eloquently that I at the very least wanted to ask if you might be keen to hear more. If you are- my email address is gabriella.odonnell@bbc.co.uk and if you get time to drop me a line I can give you a call to tell you much more and you can see what you think.

    Like I say no pressure to get involved- but it’s very much a positive piece I’m interested in for this- not a prying session into graphic detail about what someone is going through. Anyway- many thanks for your time and good luck at the awards!! Gabby

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  2. Claire,

    I just got out of a two month hospital stay. Unfortunately hospitalization is not unusual for me. I’m very lucky in that the hospital I go to actually believes it is an actual illness and treat the patients with compassion and dignity. It was a long hard search with many hospitalizations like you described and worse. Although I hate being in the hospital I’m usually so suicidal by the time that I feel safe from myself. I too blog and do other social media about what it’s like living with these demons. If we continue to break the silence and tell people what it’s really like maybe we can chip away at some of the ignorance. Hope your well. Peace. Troy

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    1. Hi Troy- I wonder if you don’t mind me messaging you like this. I’m in touch with Claire at the moment- as I’m hoping she will be part of a piece I am putting together for BBC News in London, UK all about mental health bloggers- and those who are using the social media and online space to breakdown stigmas. I have seen what you have written to Claire and you mention you blog and use social media in the same way. I’m a journalist for BBC news- I’m working on a big project for broadcast on TV, ONline and Radio for January 2016 and I’d love in my piece to include a guy who is doing the same thing as amazing people like Claire. If you are remotely interested- no pressure I know lots of people hate TV- I’d be keen if you could email at the below email and I can give you a lot more information. Thanks so much for your time, Gabby

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