Welcome to my weekly A-Z of Mental Illness. Each week I will be writing about a mental health topic that correlates with a letter of the alphabet. I have a few people doing guest posts along the way as well, just so you don’t have to listen to me drone on every week. I hope that through this alphabet of Mental Illness I will be able to spread a bit more awareness.
*warning the following post contains triggering information about self harm. Please ensure you are in a safe head space before reading.*
I read this great post by Bipolar Bandit this week and the sad thing about the whole post…I wasn’t surprised by any of it. None of the things that she experienced while being in a Mental Health Ward was so completely out of the ordinary that I was shocked. It’s a sad world that we live in, when in 2013 citizens of developed countries are still treating the Mentally Ill like second class citizens.
In the 11 years that I have been receiving treatment through Mental Health services I have been in 3 different hospitals. All three of those hospitals had their good points and their horrible points. The first time that I was hospitalised was when I was 15. I got home from school one day to be told that I could go back to school the next day to say goodbye to friends and gather school work but that the day after I would be admitted to a youth psychiatric unit. A unit that was 16 hours by bus away from my home and friends. A place that I would spend 2 weeks in.
I had two more admissions to the youth ward. The youth ward was mainly teenagers with Eating Disorders. If you don’t go into a psychiatric ward conscious of what you eat, 2 weeks sitting at a table while teenagers picked apart every piece of their food, then you certainly will once you leave. Something which was bought up at many of the morning meetings where patients could voice their concerns. During one of my stays, I engaged in a self harming act, one that was covered up by the staff. Despite being found 2 hours after going into a shower, the staff told my parents that I was only missing for a maximum of ten minutes.
A majority of the staff are at the mercy of a system that doesn’t work. Too many patients and not enough staff. We have polices in place to ensure that our children have adequate supervision while attending school (again a system that is flawed) and yet this same principle is not applied when dealing with people who are suicidal, at risk of self harm or experiencing delusions. These are people who require constant supervision, one on one time and support. Yet they are pushed aside and put into large wards with next to no support.
Many patients fall to the wayside because they are too hard. It is easier to medicate and turn a person into a zombie because the staff just do not have the resources or time to spend with these patients who so desperately need it. Most patients are written up for valium on admission. I have talked about the overuse of medication in Mental Health Inpatient facilities before.
Then there is the flipside, the staff that has reached the point of burnout or just don’t care at all. I often wondered why the staff who appeared to have no compassion for the Mentally Ill could choose to pursue a career working with them. I do sometimes think that it comes down to a position of power. A few members of staff that I have had the *pleasure* of encountering appear to have a superiority complex. Preferring to get their kicks out of making a person who is at their lowest feel sub par and inhuman. While in the throes of a depressive episode, I already hate myself more than any person could even fathom, I don’t need a staff member with a giant stick up their arse to make my time worse. I beat myself up enough plenty on my own.
If yourself or someone you know is experiencing suicidal feelings, self harm ideation or is in some way a danger to themselves or others please go and see your GP. Alternatively contact your local hospital to ask about the best course of action to take.