Thursday, 10 January 2013

"created by service users for service users" I don't believe it

Facebook post just written about a visit yesterday to a psychiatric institution:

"in this locked psychiatric ward there were ward information leaflets that said "created for service users by service users". I don't believe it. A few pages of details written for people with either a low IQ, intellectually incapacitated or dozed up to the max on psychiatric drugs. The latter probably. For it's drugs or nothing much else.

It says "we recommend you shower every day whilst you
are in the ward" and the reasons why. I kid you not. Also to "tidy up after yourself". Unbelievable really. I thought the nurses and cleaners and others were paid to do that.

And my recommendation would be to not wash if you want to, leave everything lying around, spill your coffee on the work surface, it can't be helped anyway with the side effects shaking, and do your utmost to rebel in whatever way suits you. You're keeping them all in a job.

Make it difficult for the highest paid ones and try to rewrite your notes if at all possible. You might do this by pretending that you agree with their labels, diagnoses and every word that comes out of their mouths. I couldn't do it for long. And I'm not very good at keeping a straight face. Although the psych drugs helped with this.

This leaflet also said you can buy toiletries or "feminine hygiene products" at the hospital shop. Well no you can't if you're not allowed out. And how can male nurses buy these things for you? At this hospital they only sell sugar-free drinks. For good health. It's laughable for meanwhile they're pumping folk full of psychiatric drugs that cause disabling effects and alter your brain chemicals.


  1. Hilarious! But not surprising! No-one told me about the shop or about the 'shop run' where a staff member was detailed to go for you. They only gave me soap, toothbrush, toothpaste and a towel and I had to beg for all that. No hair brush, shampoo, deodorant, facial cleanser, tweezers, hairwax, makeup etc. With my broken arm (they did it), a hospital gown (blouse would not fit over plaster cast)and an tranquillising injection I soon began to resemble Catweazle (or a tramp if you are not old enough to remember him). Thanks St Charles hospital CNWL for a wonderful stay!!!

  2. Thanks for commenting Cheryl, your experience was a challenging one, good that you can speak out about it and keep on doing so. It's encouraging. Here's a poem written by another woman who found herself in an acute psychiatric ward and it wasn't positive (it's on our Peer Support Fife website home page):

    If Only...

    If only you knew how it feels...
    To go in as a voluntary admission
    Because you knew all you needed was sleep
    And then, as if in your worst nightmare,
    Find out that you can’t get out.
    To be imprisoned, confined and incarcerated.
    To be pinned to the bed by medication.
    To ingest so much quetiapine, haloperidol,
    Risperadol, lorazepam, diazepam, seroquel
    That you begin to lose yourself.
    If only you knew how that felt.

    If only you knew how it feels...
    To be labelled “presenting as dishevelled”
    When your hair is the maddest thing about you.
    To be threatened by other patients
    When you won’t drink their stolen vodka.
    To take the hairdryer cord from your friend’s
    Neck and be sent to your room for interfering.
    To be given all the drugs the pharmaceuticals
    Can offer (provided you queue like a good girl)
    But be deprived of the one thing you need -
    Someone to listen.
    If only you knew how that felt.

    If only you knew how it feels...
    To be robbed of your liberty, your family,
    Your dignity and your very identity.
    When you point out the system’s absurdities
    When you dare to quote the Mental Health Act
    And question the written and unwritten rules
    And you are patronised and drugged
    To shut you up so you don’t upset anyone.
    Dictated to by doctors with a DSM dependency
    And no idea of your humanity.
    If only you knew how that felt.

    If only you knew how it feels...
    When your five year old daughter visits
    Clinging and crying because she thinks it’s her
    Chicken-pox that made Mummy go away.
    When a well-meaning nurse marches you
    Along the corridor to ECT and announces
    “If you don’t behave, you will end up here.”
    So you learn how to act, be seen to behave
    Present yourself less colourfully.
    Say the things the doctor wants to hear.
    Take the lithium you have never wanted
    Keep to yourself, speak less, smoke more.
    If only you knew how that felt.

    If only you knew how it feels...
    To be let out into the glaring sunlight and told
    “These people are not your friends
    Go back to your old life.”
    But your old life doesn’t want you anymore
    Your friends cross the road to avoid you
    Because they know where you’ve been
    And it sure weren’t no holiday!
    When after departure you find your only
    Travelling companions are a 40 a day habit
    And enough medication to take your own life
    Several times over.
    If only you knew how that felt.

    If only you knew how it feels...
    When thanks to your “treatment”
    You now fit the DSM bill for
    Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
    In every diagnostic criteria from A to F!
    You trust no-one - especially doctors.
    You talk to no-one. You cease to exist.
    When you lie in bed with handfuls of pills
    Wishing to deprive your daughter of her mother.
    If only you knew how that felt.

    If only...
    If only...

    Because only if you know how that felt
    And you knew how it haunts me today
    You could prescribe what I needed the most...
    Sleep and someone to listen.

  3. Cheryl, you were lucky. I live in Poland and in my hospital (where I spent more than a month) we were not given ANYTHING (no soap, no toilet paper, no towel, not to even speak of toothpaste and all the other things). Moreover, everything you owned could be stolen if you did not keep it in a locked cabinet. I lost plenty of things in this way when I did not realize the danger, even my sanitary pads ! If it were not for the help of my family, I would have found it really hard to cope.

    1. Joanna - I wouldn't describe Cheryl as being 'lucky' with having her arm broken and jags in the rear, Chrys

  4. Chrys, I really enjoy reading your blog and am quite impressed by your rebellious attitude. The poem about the hospital experience made me sad and I do hope that its author now feels much better. I am all but surprised by her mistrust of doctors, an attitude which I share. She mentions having been threatened by people who wanted her to drink their stolen vodka: I was once shouted and sworn at, and even ordered to "leave her room" by a lady with whom I was sharing a room at the hospital and whom I had not offended in any way ! Amazingly, we later became very good buddies (but that was when I was no longer in "her room" ...).

    1. Yes the experience of this woman who wrote the poem was a very difficult one and she said it took her some considerable time to recover from it. The psychiatric drugging was particularly challenging, having the confidence to taper the drugs and get off them completely.