I is for Inpatient

mental illness alphabet

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.

 

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26 thoughts on “I is for Inpatient

  1. Lara @ This Charming Mum

    Gosh, another very honest post. I’m sure your candid perspective on these issues will be really helpful for others who may experience (or know someone who experiences) similar things. The health system obviously still has a long way to go where mental health is concerned.

    Reply
  2. Wendy Parks

    I still don’t understand why in 2013 we treat mental illness the way we do – even after all the education programs, this illness is not given the resource, time and support that is needed.
    What’s the difference between breast cancer and mental illness? Nothing – both can kill you.
    Thank you for writing such an honest post.

    Reply
    1. Musings of the Misguided Post author

      LOVE this comment. It’s so true. I have always said to people that taking medication for a mental illness is no different than a physical illness.

      Reply
  3. Janet @ Redland City Living

    My Mother was a regular Inpatient at the Psych Wards. When we visited her, she often had a glazed look and didn’t seem to be “present” – I’m guessing she was drugged to the max.

    Usually we stayed with our Dad, our grandparents, or at the Sandgate Children’s Home while she was an Inpatient, which was certainly no picnic …

    Reply
    1. Musings of the Misguided Post author

      That is one of my biggest worries if I ever got admitted now. DP is 50 minutes away with work and isn’t able to to always come at the drop of a hat plus my closest family is 7 hours away.

      Reply
  4. Oculus Mundi

    My mother worked as a nurse in Leverndale, the local mental hospital at that time. When I attempted suicide they tried to place me in Leverndale. She point blank refused. The doctor said to her “It’s not as bad as people think…” my mother said “I work there.” He shut up at that point. The stories she told would make your fucking hair stand on end.

    There were decent staff like her who actually tried to help, or at least to be kind to the patients. Then there were malicious deviants and lazy arses and all manner of flotsam and jetsam on the staff. She was often assigned to wards to oversee other staff members who were known for being cruel to patients or going to sleep (she worked nightshift) because they knew she would not tolerate it. She reported a couple of people over the years for abuse of patients, most were too afraid of peer exclusion/attack to do so. My mother was afraid of nothing.

    I would like to think things have improved somewhat. But then again…

    Reply
  5. Grace

    We certainly don’t put in enough funds for Mental Health facilities. These places are understaffed causing the staff members to be burnt out. It’s a vicious circle.
    It’s important for experiences such as yours to be heard.

    Reply
    1. Musings of the Misguided Post author

      Thanks Grace, I definitely agree that the Mental Health and public health in general is ridiculously understaffed.

      Reply
  6. Leanne Winter

    Tegan, I love your honesty and the way you put it all out there and force us to think about issues we (well, me) might prefer not to acknowledge. I agree with Grace, I think the bottom line is that more money needs to be spent so that decent facilities and staff can be sourced. Everyone of us needs to own this problem and snap out of our complacency.

    Reply
    1. Musings of the Misguided Post author

      Glad that I was able to push the buttons and help you to think about things that aren’t always easy (unless you are directly affected) to talk about. The current system is keeping sick people sick because there is just not enough staff to cope with the demands. Working in a Mental Health Facility requires so much more emotional input and staff are just not receiving the support that they need to help prevent burnout.

      Reply
  7. Angela

    If only the government realised that they are contributing to the Mental Health systems overload. When they don’t take care of those who treat the patients, and those professionals burn out, they often then require support themselves. Your comment about staff burning out reminded me of this article I read last year http://www.theaustralian.com.au/arts/books/author-talks-about-wifes-suicide-to-help-others/story-e6frg8nf-1226405987234
    Not only does the government need to pour money into a struggling mental health system, it needs to overhaul the way it supports staff in such high stress roles across the board. Ambo’s, ED Staff and Mental health staff are up at the top. Mind you, many of them need a lot of training in how to deal appropriately with certain situations.

    Reply
  8. Emily @ Have a laugh on me

    I bet you’ve seen and heard some horrific things during your visits. Sucks you had to go through this, and continue to battle depression. But you are doing a great service by giving us a first person account of it all 🙂 x

    Reply
    1. Musings of the Misguided Post author

      Thanks. I hope that through my blog I am able to reach more people and even give them a bit of a wake up call as to the way that the mentally ill are treated in our country.

      Reply
  9. The Plumbette

    Holy Moly. What a post and what an insight into what is happening in mental facilities that are supposed to help those that are unwell. Thank you for opening my eyes to a world I haven’t had the need to know about (thank goodness) and revealing what needs to be changed to make it better.

    Reply
  10. Dorothy

    I’ve only ever stayed in private psych hospitals and the staff there have always been great. My experiences in Emergency though, after suicide attempts, have been far from stellar. The staff there don’t see you as ill at all, just a body taking up space.

    Reply
    1. Musings of the Misguided Post author

      The Emergency Department is a whole different kettle of fish..but the MH nurses are trained, they *should* be able to deal with this stuff. A lot of them do and do it well, but there is a good portion who fail spectacularly.

      Reply
  11. Ness

    Good God, that is so depressing and heart wrenching to read. I’ve only managed to keep out of psych wards by the hair of my chin over the years. I can’t imagine what you’ve gone through. xo

    Reply
  12. lisa

    I did a couple of nursing placements at university in the mental health wards and I am sorry to say, I couldn’t get out of there fast enough. It was so depressing, I have no idea how anyone was supposed to recover in those places. If you weren’t depressed before you went in-you certainly needed help on the way out. Unfortunately, a few other students used to always joke that the staff used to give the patients pills to sedate them and then smoke cigarettes for the rest of the shift. Hopefully this is not true now?!!?

    Reply
  13. Kirsty @ My Home Truths

    I’ve only had experience visiting a private mental health facility and it was depressing enough, even though the staff I saw seemed to be capable and caring. It really is sad that people in their most emotionally and physically vulnerable state are treated with so little compassion and understanding. Thanks for sharing this very important post Tegan x

    Reply
  14. Sad Mum Happy Mum

    I can relate so much to this post. I have been an in-patient in three different psychiatric wards and hospitals, and I must say they have been more than an experience that as someone who is seriously ill shouldn’t have to experience at such a vulnerable time.

    Reply
    1. Tegan Post author

      My times in inpatient have ranged from helpful to down right horrid. I am sorry that you had to experience them as well.

      Reply

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