Last weekend I began hallucinating again and – at their command – I took an overdose. I was in Hospital for over twenty-four hours and the only drama was caused by my veins; and a conversation with the Psychiatric Liaison Team about it, left me inspired to write this post!

As the overdose had been in response to the voices and not a suicide attempt, I took myself to A&E and agreed to have the lengthy antidote treatment known as Parvolex. Ironically, when I actually want the treatment and co-operate, my veins collapse and become generally useless so that it can’t be administered! The Doctors had many attempts and even called an Anesthetist with the ultrasound machine to try to insert the cannula, but they had no success, so my blood test was repeated. It was at this point that my co-operation was tested, and the Doctor made a comment “the tests will be ok unless you’ve actually taken as many as you say you have.” In the past, I’d have taken great offence by interpreting this as him basically calling me a liar! I’d have refused blood tests and treatment and left the Hospital – probably against medical advice and possible chased by security! Instead, I took the attitude that I’d let them do the blood tests and once he saw the results, they would prove I wasn’t lying. And that, would be much more gratifying!

After proving I hadn’t lied, I had to see the Psychiatric Liaison Team before I could go home and I told them that I wasn’t sure if ‘pride’ was the right word for it but that I was glad there hadn’t been any of the usual drama of me running away or refusing treatment. They told me that I could say I was proud of myself for it and that it shows that even though I was there for overdosing, I had come a long way over the years and could still be counted as being in recovery. But I don’t think the peaceful admission was due to my mental state; I think some of it came because of the things I’ve learnt that help me during a hospital admission.

Even though being in hospital – no matter which one it is – is never pleasant; it’s important to remember that you’re there to be helped in some way. Sometimes – especially with Psychiatric Hospitals – you might believe that you shouldn’t even be there but someone thinks you should and someone thinks that – in one way or another – the Hospital could help you, so it’s important to do anything you can to make the admission ‘easier’ for yourself…

1.      Medication

It’s become apparent that when I’m in Hospital, I tend to get very anxious and I’m actually not an anxious person, so I find this hard to cope with. We (the Hospital staff and I) have discovered that Diazepam helps with the intense anxiety; and now that I know staff appreciate this, I feel more able to ask for it when I’m struggling. 

Admittedly, it has taken a fair bit of communication to have all of the relevant professionals concur that PRN (when required) Diazepam could be added to my admission plan; but they’ve eventually done it! Having staff recognize I occasionally need this medication and that I never abuse it, has been greatly reassuring and validating. It shows me that they trust my judgement as to when I need it and believe that I’m genuine when asking for it. If you discover a medication that helps you through an admission, then don’t be afraid to request it and to explain yourself if they initially say no.

2.      Home comforts

Where possible, it’s always a good idea to take some of your home comforts into hospital with you. Obviously in the case of an emergency admission this isn’t always possible but where the hospitalization is planned, or you’re aware of the possibility of it, it’s actually quite a practical thing to do. 

I used to worry that taking an overnight bag to Accident and Emergency (A&E) would look like I wanted to be admitted but after a few times of not taking anything in, I learnt that having my own belongings – no matter how basic – were helpful in making me feel more settled in Hospital.

There is a balancing act with this one though, in ensuring that you don’t make the environment too homely and comfortable because – especially in long-term admissions – there’s the danger of becoming institutionalized. When I was in Cygnet Hospital Bierley for two and a half years I tried to keep my bedroom and en-suite bathroom still resemble that it was in a Hospital whilst also adding personal touches to make being in Hospital for so long, do-able! And you can try anything from your current book to a favourite pillow!

3.      Distract

This one goes hand-in-hand with the previous because home comforts can help in providing a distraction from the hustle and bustle of the Hospital. Especially in A&E, there’s a lot of noise, movement and frenzy with patients and staff coming and going and it can all be really unsettling; particularly when you’re struggling with your mental health. There’s been many times when I’ve had to listen to upsetting noises in Hospitals, such as someone screaming in pain, the fuss of Hospital for a medical reason and your mental health by completely fine but the goings on can get to you so bad that you find yourself getting upset. This is why it’s important that you distract yourself during these times with things that you enjoy doing or that take all of your concentration; like reading, playing a game on your phone, or writing (or blogging in my case!).

4.      Focus

Being in Hospital, chances are you’re surrounded by other patients; my local medical Hospital and Psychiatric Hospital have private bedrooms but that doesn’t mean you no interaction with others – especially on a Psychiatric ward – and so it’s kind of inevitable that you’ll hear at least one life story from another patient! It can be hard to stay removed from other people’s business when Doctors and Nurses are talking about their private and personal details for all of the ward to hear! It’s understandable that you speak to other patients because Hospital can be quite a lonely place in waiting for visiting hours and – often – not having signal on your phone; but it’s important that you don’t become involved in someone else’s care. I’ve experienced other patients telling Nurses that I’m still waiting for pain relief and the Nurse will turn around and say that I can speak for myself! I’ve also gotten to know some lovely people in Psychiatric Hospitals and have been affected by what is going on for them e.g. when they’re struggling and feeling unsupported by staff. But I’ve learnt that if you concentrate on anyone other than yourself while you’re in Hospital then it minimizes the chances of you benefiting from the admission.
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