"the thought of staying on the ward was truly too stressful"
About: Arran War Memorial Hospital / General Psychiatry Arran War Memorial Hospital General Psychiatry KA27 8LF Ayrshire Central Hospital / Old age psychiatry Ayrshire Central Hospital Old age psychiatry KA12 8SS
Posted by Randle McMurphy (as ),
Following a dreadful and unexpected marital crisis, after four days with little or no sleep nor anyone to speak to, I became distressed by fearful and uncontrollable thoughts of suicide to stop the overwhelming physical and mental pain.
As a former health care professional of 35 years who had been involved with many para suicide and suicides, I felt embarrassed, and increasingly distressed by the isolation. I phoned the Samaritans, who urged me to contact the local services, GP and CPN. After two calls, saying that I needed help, I saw the CPN and GP. I was given a room in the local hospital. Between the Friday afternoon and Sunday lunch time, other than meditate or play chess with myself, there was nothing to do and no one to speak to. No pictures on the walls, a chair and a bed. At 11am Sunday I told the nursing staff that I would go home in the afternoon, for a change of clothes and use the Internet. I left at 2pm having said again that I would be going out. About 3pm the police arrived. Then came back again with a GP. I was told I would be put on a section for 72 hours and if I didn't come willingly I would be physically removed.
Transferred to a mainland hospital, I was put in psychogeriatric unit with two others probably with dementia and another with an elderly psychiatric disorder. On arrival my blood pressure was 230/130, an overwhelming sense of anxiety, almost panic was a struggle to control. One nurse did give me the opportunity to talk to him, his skills seemed to be concerned about writing me up the case study. Nothing to do, chess and word games were quickly exhausted.
Thrice one morning I was almost barked at indiscreetly "are you suicidal? " end of conversation! After three days it was a relief to get out and walk the roads outside for two hours in the dark. I had been told that after 6.15pm on the Wednesday I would be "free" to go as I wanted. No ferries then, but transport could be arranged for the following day. Four times I was told after that I could leave on the following day by the nursing staff.
The hope of relief from the isolating idle tedium was very powerful. A sense of humiliation added to the awful depersonalisation that had haunted this experience over the last five days. Truly a feeling of being utterly lost, actually disorientated. On the Thursday morning when ready to go I meet, for the first time, the ward doctor, who asked some sympathetic questions. I said that I was been taken to the ferry later in the morning. She returned twenty minutes later, much to my surprise with a form to sign, absolving the hospital and health authority of any consequences and any future care, yes any future care! This unexpected turn was frightening and distressing.
The thought of staying on the ward, which was like "one flew over the cuckoos nest" was truly too stressful and unpleasant to consider. I signed. There has been no follow up or contact of any sort since, as one would have expected. The last five weeks have been very hard, I sought a refuge at a retreat centre, here there was a programme of training "listeners". I am still not sleeping, sweating a lot and find I have a tremor and palpitations. I'm learning ways to stop persistent cycling thoughts, some that I used to teach my patients. More difficult than expected. My blood pressure has come down though. The experience has left doubt about my sanity and even to question early dementia.