My experience on a Psyciatric Ward

Really struggling today. It's nearly 4 weeks on a new medication after over 35 years of periodic depression with no end in sight. This time I feel sure I am going to lose my family and my home to depression from not being well enough to work properly over the past 10 years. My debts are out of control and have stacked up over the years, I have no way to pay them off, it's all come to a head. I am feeling as depressed now if not more so than when I was admitted to St Charles mental health hospital near Notting Hill a few years ago at the end of January 2012. It was a good, clean, nice and new facility. Some of the nurses were really nice too but some of them were very unkind. The unkind ones would stop everyone from being able to smoke when one of the schizophrenic patients misbehaved and things like that. The manager in charge expressed in the lounge area one day that he didn't understand why people with mental health problems smoked and he didn't like it. He started questioning us all about it and seemed to want to iradicate smoking, and the patients for that matter. I don't think he liked his job. I felt I had more compassion and empathy than him even though I was clinically depressed. Maybe he couldn't do his job if he showed any compassion. I was there for a week, they spent most of that week trying to move me on so that they could free up a bed because they were full up. I was the first target because my local hospital was full and I wasn't really meant to be there. It made me feel even more worthless. I remember the humiliation of lining up for medication in the evenings and having to show that you had taken it, open your mouth and show them the little empty cardboard cup. That was really hard. I know they must have to do it because some patients probably don't want to take their medications. I remember keeping one of those little cups and colouring in a pattern on it with a biro that I found in the drawer of a desk in my room. Some of the schizophrenic patients were quite frightening to be around when I was so depressed and feeling vulnerable. One of them bullied me quite a lot, convinced I was there to spy on him. I found it really hard to cope with even though I knew he couldn't help what he was thinking, I tried to be kind to him anyway. One morning was really hard, he started on me at breakfast and breakfast was always the hardest time for me,my depression is always worse in the mornings and when the anxiety is really bad I really struggle to eat. I remember forcing cereal down in tears. I was only seen once when I was there by a psychiatrist. They always seemed to busy for the patients and rarely came onto the ward. I wondered what they got paid for. I became very anxious after the first day being there because they took away one of my medications when I arrived (Propranolol which I had been prescribed for social anxiety) as they said they didn't prescribe that medication anymore but they didn't replace it with another medication. My GP prescribed it again for me a year later so I guess it's just what different people think. The Psychiatrist on the ward said maybe my anxiety was caused by alcohol withdrawal but I knew it wasn't that because I didn't drink and because I had suffered with it for so many years even as a child. He said this in front of all the medical students with him which was really embarrassing and made me feel worse. I said I didn't drink but I don't think that he believed me, I know there were people there who had problems with alcohol. I think all he really wanted to do was take me off suicide watch because of the cost in resources, he seemed to hint at that from what he said. So I agreed with him that I wouldn't be able to hurt myself there because there wasn't any way for me to do so. After that they took me off suicide watch. I was glad about that because I didn't want to cost any extra money. I remember three days afterwards the manager in charge coming  into my room without knocking telling me that I wasn't bad enough to be there and that I can't sleep all day in my room and that they needed the bed. I tried to say I was depressed but she wasn't listening. I felt really ashamed after that and so worthless. It felt like they thought I was making it up. One night they left the light on in my room, it was really really bright and I couldn't sleep. You couldn't turn off the light yourself because it was controlled from outside as well. I felt too unwell to go out to the reception and ask them to turn it off, I thought that maybe they had just forgotten and that they might remember in the next hour because they turn them on and off to check on you but they didn't. Sometimes they would let you have a sleeping pill but only once they let me have one. After a few more days they moved me to another hospital nearer home, the manager who didn't like smoking went with me in a taxi. They took me to Riverside Hospital in Hillingdon, it was very scary because the staff didn't have any control over some of the violent patients. There was no privacy and they had no locks on any doors. A lot of things were smashed up. One patient would attack anyone at random including the staff. Some of the patients were smoking drugs and had taken over a few of the rooms. The staff didn't go I those rooms. The patients would go out and get the drugs or sometimes someone would bring them to a window. When they went out they came back citing some privacy law to stop their bags being looked in. It al felt wrong and out of control to me. When I wanted a cigarette they said smoking was banned, one nurse let me go outside though. After I had been seen by a Psychiatrist and my medication was changed I asked to go home to my family. This was only after spending only one night there but I didn't feel at all safe. I know the staff didn't feel safe either and they had to spend a lot of time restraining a couple of the patients. It was scary and humiliating. There was a soldier there with a brain injury who had fought in the Iraq war. He would state his name and rank constantly, I remember he was very tall. I felt really sorry for him, for serving his country and being so damaged by it. It didn't seem that anyone could help him, I didn't feel worthy to be there and I was scared to be there. After I left the hospital the home treatment team then came and visited me every week. It took a few months before I was well enough to get dressed and wash properly. I am struggling again with that at the moment but able to write somehow. I think the memory of that time is so strong I need to write about it even though I still feel so depressed. I don't feel there is any help for me. I can't go back to hospital because I know that it doesn't really help and there are people in much worse situations than me. I sent a message to a mental health charity yesterday but they didn't reply. I wonder where al the money they raise goes, I don't think it goes to the people who are suffering.  I wish I could find a way to move forward and leave the depression behind but I just don't know how. It's a horrible illness and I can't beat it on my own but I don't know how to get help. Real help that works. I don't know what would help anymore. I begged for ECT once but they wouldn't give it to me. It doesn't seem fixable and it's done too much damage now. I know I can get better at times but being able to stay well is not something I have yet been able to achieve. And so the cycle continues for me, taking away a bit more of me each time. I am even considering talking to Dignitas now. How long before there's nothing left of me for depression to take? maybe then I will be free.

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