Yesterday I had my mental health tribunal which was equally stressful and scary but today I am feeling better and reflective about it and thought I’d share my experience of a tribunal and my care plan for the future.
There were many people in my tribunal, the tribunal panel which consists of 3 people: a doctor, a judge and a lay person and then there was my psychologist, psychiatrist, nurse, eating disorder nurse, social worker and my lawyer on top of the nurse and support worker who were with me on my 2:1 observations.
I was taken to the tribunal in a wheelchair and we heard evidence from everybody who they felt was relevant and hadn’t covered it in their report then came the anxious wait for a decision. The decision was made that I remain on my section 3 and go to Cygnet Coventry in May. At the time I found this decision distressing and tried to do a runner, I was restrained in my wheelchair all the way back to my room and then I pulled my feeding tube out in total despair and upset. I was restrained until I calmed down.
Today I feel okay. There is nothing I can do about their decision and I guess if that many people agree I should remain in hospital then they must be right and as much as I hate it here I have to radically accept my situation.
So what’s the plan from here? Well in 13 days I will go to Cygnet Coventry and give recovery and my chance at a normal life the best shot and then if that fails and the placement breaks down it will be palliative care. Why palliative care? Because out of all the units that were approached only this one accepted me due to either my bmi and anorexia being too severe or my emotionally unstable personality disorder and self harm being too bigger risk. This unit feels they can manage and treat both.
So whilst I’m gutted to still be in hospital under section I am looking onwards and upwards to a new beginning in the near future.
Being distressed is horrible, those feelings of utter desperation, sadness, anger, fear, guilt…the list goes on. All those emotions and thoughts that form a ball of intolerable distress. So you can imagine how horrible a distressed person is feeling but imagine on top of that being restrained so that they can’t move their limbs or go to a different room. They are stuck. From personal experience I can tell you that it’s truly horrible.
I understand why restraint is necessary. Restraining is used to prevent harm either to the individual or to other people. I have always been restrained to stop me from hurting myself or absconding.
Frustration comes to mind when I think about restraint. Frustration mixed with terror, anger and shame. I’ll share with you a recent experience of being restrained. I had attempted to pull my NG tube out and it was half out by the time the staff noticed. They both grabbed me, one on each wrist and with a tight grip. I couldn’t move my arms. At that point I didn’t particularly care as the NG was already too far out to put back in but it still wasn’t nice to be held down. They held my arms for what seemed like ages and I needed to use the bathroom. I was escorted one on each arm to the toilets. After I had used the toilet I wanted to look in the mirror to body check and I admit this often takes me some time. The staff I was with thought I had spent long enough in front of the mirror so went to hold me and escort me out and back to my room. I hadn’t finished and it the distressed state I was in, I felt I needed to finish. So to stop them from walking me out and away from the mirror, I put myself down to the floor and sat cross legged with a person still on each arm. I was so frustrated that I couldn’t do what I wanted to do. I hated that people were holding me and touching me. I was angry at them because they were stopping me from doing what I felt needed to be done. I was also deeply ashamed, there is little more shameful than being restrained. Having the control over your body completely taken away. Being held down so that you cannot move. Being injected with a medication you don’t want and surrounded by staff. Being watched whilst in such a vulnerable position is horrible. I understand that it’s necessary…in fact it’s probably saved my life a good few times in the past but that doesn’t take away how traumatic and horrible it is to be restrained.
I’m on 2:1 level 4 observations which means I have two members of staff (one qualified nurse and one nursing assistant) within arms reach of me at all times. It has been like this for nearly 2 months. I am never on my own. They are with me when I’m using the toilet, shower/bath, when I’m sleeping, when I’m changing clothes, washing my hands, blogging and tweeting. They are always there and I get no privacy.
Right now I just want to be on my own, in a silent room to let out the tears I’ve been holding back for so long. I want to be able to tweet, blog, Facebook, instagram without staff watching over my shoulder.
Alone time was always so sacred and important to me. I enjoy silence too. It’s nice to be in a field with no one in sight and the silence is only broken by the sound of your own footsteps. I used to sit on my sofa with no TV on, just total silence and I enjoyed it. It calmed me.
It will be this way until I go to the new unit in May. I will then have done nearly 6 months with two people either side of me at all times. I don’t think I can do it, but then again I don’t have a choice. This is how it has to be.
Today is Time To Talk day 2017 so take 5 minutes to talk about mental health. It is so important that we get these conversations going because they can save lives as well as working to stamp out stigma.
This Time To Talk day, I’m going to tell you a little bit about how I’m spending it. I’m currently in a general hospital being tube fed for my anorexia, I’m on 2:1 observations meaning I have two members of staff with me at all times and I’m on a level 4 which means I must be within arms length of the staff members, this includes when using the toilet. So there the facts about my situation but now it’s time to talk about how I feel.
I’m confused, recovery and weight restoration is being forced on me and I’m not sure that I want it. I’m scared about the future, my team are looking for a unit to send me to and so far none have accepted me. I don’t know what the near future holds for me. I’m homesick, I haven’t been home in 18 months and I would give anything to sit on the sofa with my family and dog and watch some rubbish telly. I feel alone and lost, I haven’t seen many people in the last 18 months and my grandmother has passed away during that time, I never got to say goodbye, I wasn’t well enough to go to her funeral and that breaks my heart everyday. I’m annoyed and angry at myself for losing out on so much. My goddaughter will be 3 in March and I’ve missed so much of her growing up, my dog is 14 and I’m scared she will die before I get home.
I have conversations about mental health every single day because I am unwell, but you don’t have to be ill to talk about mental health. We all have mental health, so please this Time To Talk Day 2017, take 5 minutes to ask someone how they are, send a text, natter over a cuppa, get the conversation going about mental health.
Happy Time To Talk Day everyone!
Okay so it’s been a while, I spent 8 months in a secure unit with my weight dropping and my mental health declining, then in December an eating disorder nurse from my home team came to see me at 8am in the morning. I remember being woken at 7am and having a shower on a chair because my legs would not stand and then being whisked off to the relaxation room to see her.
The nurse wanted to admit me to a general hospital for refeeding but I refused as it was so close to Christmas and I just wanted to be where I felt settled for the festive period. That night I was driven back to my home county and admitted to a general ward. I felt like I was living in a nightmare. I had an NG tube inserted and was started on a feed straight away, drips were in my arms and blood tests taken.
A month later, here I am, still in the same bed, still being fed through a tube and struggling enormously. I feel fatter with each day, the sips of ensure are getting harder and not easier. The plan from here is to go to an eating disorder unit in London which I’m super scared about. I don’t know any more. This battle is hard.
I’m sitting on the end of my bed in hospital. Numb but in pain. I don’t understand anymore. Utter confusion. Dreaming of a future like a child, imagining I’ll be a vet or a teacher but seeing reality like an adult…I am just a psychiatric ward patient….I probably don’t even deserve the word ‘just’ in front of that. I’m a nothing, a no one. Three months locked away has completely detached me from the world around me. I belong nowhere and with no one. The world outside the window doesn’t feel like mine. It’s like I don’t remember what the rolling hills look like, nor the supermarket aisles or petrol stations. My ballet shoes disintegrated when my life turned into compost. Maybe new flowers will grow out of the soil but I doubt it. It feels like I’ll never feel the sun on my skin again and that my heart will never vibrate with the bass of loud music. Will I always be gone? Will I ever find me again?
Today the BBC have published an article http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-31914765 stating that the government will admit that mental health services for children and young people in England need a complete overhaul. Ministers are said to be proposing a five year plan to improve services but already that’s too little too late. CAMHS services go up to the age of 18, this means that all people aged 13-25 now have slipped through the net and will probably not get the help they need. Children and young people’s mental health services are a complete mess at the moment, suggesting a 5 year plan is a start but changes need to start happening now, not in 2020.
The BBC’s article lists some statistics on child mental health and the one that really struck me was that one in six 16-24 year olds has a common mental disorder. That’s a staggering number of young people but what’s more shocking is that this article implies that the 16-24 age bracket are a part of this ‘overhaul’ but the truth is that this will only improve mental health services to those under 18, the rest of those young people will be lost within the adult mental health services or simply not get the help that they need. Too often we cling on the words of these articles but I can already see flaws and dishonesty.
To tackle the problems ministers have come up with a list of measures, these include a comprehensive set of waiting time targets for services, the launch of an anti-stigma campaign, continued support into the early 20s, greater use of online tools and apps, care close to home and extra training for GPs and schools. This all sounds fantastic and could help change and save so many lives as long as these promises are stuck to. Saying and doing are two very different things. We have got ministers to listen, now the fight begins to get them to stick to their word.