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Being in a Psychiatric Hospital - Ask Me (Almost) Anything

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    (Original post by usycool1)
    Hey everyone.

    So this thread has mainly been inspired by The_Lonely_Goatherd's Mental Health AMA thread. It's a bit of a continuation to my depressive episode from Sixth Form but I'll keep it very brief.

    As some of you may know, I started Medical School this year after the whole adventure I had during Sixth Form/my gap year and while it started of very well, things got absolutely crazy again during second term and by third term, I found myself admit in a Psychiatric Hospital. My depression was back but this time it was even more severe than last time, and resulted in some psychotic episodes too.

    Basically, I went out for dinner somewhere late at night one day and decided to go for a visit to Lords in London (being a massive cricket fan ). Then before I knew it, something happened that made me insanely upset and led to a very bad psychotic episode. I was then taken in blue lights by an ambulance to the mental health unit of a hospital, where a psychiatrist suggested for me to be admit in a psychiatric hospital for a few days. There were no hospital beds in the whole of London, however, so I was transferred outside of London to a private hospital the next day.

    I stayed there for a few days before I decided to self discharge myself - not because I felt better really, but because I had my first year exams in a few days and I wanted to have a shot at them...

    Anyway, ever since, I can't say I've been at 100% but I've learnt to be way more open about my Mental Health now and want to give the encouragement to others to not be afraid to open up too, should they want to. The stigma is absolute bull****. I started a Mental Health blog (not on TSR) to try to keep myself busy that way and even though it's very early, I'm seriously beginning to think about a career in psychiatry now.

    I've seen many myths circulating around about what happens in a psychiatric hospital, and this seems to put many people off from seeking help in the first place when they need it. So I thought I'd make this thread to answer anyone's questions about what my experiences were like there, or to answer questions about my mental health experiences in general.

    Just as an aside - please keep all questions sensible. I will remove any questions where there is malice intended, and will take appropriate action on those posts. I may also have to remove some posts if they're triggering too, but I won't take any action there if it's not intentional.
    What follow up care have you been offered since leaving? Do you think your time in hospital was beneficial?
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    (Original post by bullettheory)
    What follow up care have you been offered since leaving?
    Before I was admitted and after, I was and still am under the care of the home treatment team in my area (basically a crisis team). I was asked to see them more often since my discharge so I was seeing them every day or so, and I have their phone number which I can call 24/7 should I need them.

    Do you think your time in hospital was beneficial?
    Hmm, overall, yes, I would say it was beneficial. Talking to others who were in a similar position to me really did help, in that it made it feel easier for me to open up to others. I also found the therapy sessions useful, and the staff were absolutely brilliant. It gave me a much needed 'time-out' from everything, I feel.

    However, what really did get to me was that not a single person visited me while I was in hospital. That did lower my already rubbish self esteem and my anxiety and paranoia seemed to get worse because of that as a result. I did think some of my friends who I thought I was very close with would come to see me but they didn't (although I can see it was a little silly of me to have started expecting things from them). That did make things a bit worse for me when I did leave. I don't say this in any spite towards my friends, however - they were very unsure as to how best to help me and they've never left me so I still do absolutely love all of them.

    In the end, I did decide to self discharge myself with the thought that a) I needed to get out and get my exams done to keep going with Medicine and b) that I needed to get back out there and try to rebuild myself 'outside' too. Perhaps I should have stayed for a bit longer though, looking at how I felt in hindsight and how useful I was finding it.
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    How are you coping now that the experience is over? Do you have ways of preventing what happened from happening again?
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    (Original post by atomickitten)
    How are you coping now that the experience is over?
    Well, things are far from perfect still but I'm trying to keep myself busy since the experience. I've been going to the gym, going swimming, playing cricket, trying to do things I enjoy to try to cheer myself up but it's very much a work in progress. I also find it very helpful to talk to my parents about things now if anything goes wrong or if I'm feeling down.

    Do you have ways of preventing what happened from happening again?
    Talking to my family now that they know has proven to be very helpful. If anything happens again next year, I've planned that I'll get a train home ASAP and am optimistic that I'll end up feeling fine there rather than the same happening again.

    I also keep myself out of situations where I think I'll be likely to get upset or get a bit scared, so I'm just taking everything slowly right now. I'm hopeful that I can make a full recovery soon, however.
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    I wish you a full recovery
    (Original post by usycool1)
    Well, things are far from perfect still but I'm trying to keep myself busy since the experience. I've been going to the gym, going swimming, playing cricket, trying to do things I enjoy to try to cheer myself up but it's very much a work in progress. I also find it very helpful to talk to my parents about things now if anything goes wrong or if I'm feeling down.






    Talking to my family now that they know has proven to be very helpful. If anything happens again next year, I've planned that I'll get a train home ASAP and am optimistic that I'll end up feeling fine there rather than the same happening again.

    I also keep myself out of situations where I think I'll be likely to get upset or get a bit scared, so I'm just taking everything slowly right now. I'm hopeful that I can make a full recovery soon, however.
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    (Original post by atomickitten)
    I wish you a full recovery
    Thank you very much.
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    slightly unrelated- I imagine medicine is a stressful course.How do you cope with the pressure-I sometimes get stressed on my course
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    (Original post by usycool1)
    Before I was admitted and after, I was and still am under the care of the home treatment team in my area (basically a crisis team). I was asked to see them more often since my discharge so I was seeing them every day or so, and I have their phone number which I can call 24/7 should I need them.



    Hmm, overall, yes, I would say it was beneficial. Talking to others who were in a similar position to me really did help, in that it made it feel easier for me to open up to others. I also found the therapy sessions useful, and the staff were absolutely brilliant. It gave me a much needed 'time-out' from everything, I feel.

    However, what really did get to me was that not a single person visited me while I was in hospital. That did lower my already rubbish self esteem and my anxiety and paranoia seemed to get worse because of that as a result. I did think some of my friends who I thought I was very close with would come to see me but they didn't (although I can see it was a little silly of me to have started expecting things from them). That did make things a bit worse for me when I did leave. I don't say this in any spite towards my friends, however - they were very unsure as to how best to help me and they've never left me so I still do absolutely love all of them.

    In the end, I did decide to self discharge myself with the thought that a) I needed to get out and get my exams done to keep going with Medicine and b) that I needed to get back out there and try to rebuild myself 'outside' too. Perhaps I should have stayed for a bit longer though, looking at how I felt in hindsight and how useful I was finding it.
    I'm glad to hear it was beneficial for you sorry about your friends however I think sometimes people can just be unsure of how to react.

    It sounds like you got to go to a good hospital. I went to a private hospital once and it was much better than the NHS, there is nothing to do in the NHS you are just left to see the dr once a week. I was in a ward and we had a lot of aggressive people. A guaranteed assault everyday and countless altercations. I had a patient come into my room at night and start shouting at me and threatening to beat the **** out of me ... However there were a lot of very unwell people on that ward. I'm glad you had a good experience, it is good to hear the other side!

    You sound like you have quite a bit of insight into these odd experiences you were having. How quickly did you get that insight back and did you take medication to help?


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    (Original post by usycool1)
    Haha, no no, it's a perfectly valid question.

    My honest answer is that I simply don't remember, and that's why I didn't mention it in my OP. It just seems like a massive blur to me - I remember suddenly feeling very lonely because I remembered something and then bam, all the voices and paranoia seemed to start. A police man seemed to notice that there wasn't something quite right with me either so he came up to me to ask if everything was OK and helped me call an ambulance.
    Thanks for answering

    Gosh, that's so eye opening, I really feel for what you went through, it must have been awful. :hugs:

    But what is so clear to see though, is that you are an amazingly strong individual. Hell, I and many others would not be able to cope with studying medicine in the best of mental health, and here you are storming through despite all you've been through. You were in a psychiatric hospital, and still you discharged yourself in order to get your exams done within the next few days.

    That is simply commendable, I hope you are proud of yourself. I have no doubt you are going to have a full, enriched future. What's more is you sound like a really decent person, and have a lot of respect for your friends I take it from your other posts. I know it really must not have helped, not having any visitors during your stay, but I think a lot of people just really aren't sure how best to respond in such situations. They may have worried that you would not have wanted them to see you there.

    Best of luck with everything, like I say, I have no doubt you'd pull through all this. The thing with mental illnesses such a depression, is that it seems impossible to imagine that you'd feel better, that you'd get over it and be as you were before. But people do, all the time. With some of us, depression is just like a physical illness, it passes through us, we get through it and then it's just a painful memory but nothing more. I see absolutely no reason why that can't be you.
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    Considering a long view, how do you think your experience as a patient (not specifically a mental health service user) might inform your future role as a practitioner?
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    (Original post by The_Lonely_Goatherd)
    Thanks both! Interesting to hear your experiences :yes: I appreciate the answers, as it's something I worry about a lot

    :grouphugs:

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    Sorry if I scared you.

    I've been in 3 different hospitals and they were all so different to each other. I felt kind of anxious about the other patients in the NHS one - I had difficulty understanding this huge guy and so tried to avoid him. There was nothing to do except stare at a tv with no sound and seeing a psychiatrist once a week.

    The first one in the US was actually not a bad experience at all. There were a lot of groups and everyone was really friendly. I got playing this one guy at chess and we must've played about 50 times over the course of 10 days. We still email each other.

    The last one was also in the US (although a different state) and there were groups but most related to recovering from alcohol and drug abuse so I avoided those ones. Most people there were there for alcohol and drug detox which was a little strange to have people with mental illnesses with those people but I made a few friends and, other than the prophet, I felt safe. I added one on facebook (before my wife banned me from it )

    It is probably worth mentioning that I only saw someone "kick off" in the NHS hospital. In the US, if you try that, you get sedated and put in restraints - something the NHS doesn't do anymore (the restraints).

    I would say that really ill people will often be on big drug doses and so unable to really kick off - just my experience - so I'd try not to worry too much about the other people there if you do have to go inpatient.


    And again sorry Usy if this is hijacking your thread.
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    (Original post by Sabertooth)
    Sorry if I scared you.

    I've been in 3 different hospitals and they were all so different to each other. I felt kind of anxious about the other patients in the NHS one - I had difficulty understanding this huge guy and so tried to avoid him. There was nothing to do except stare at a tv with no sound and seeing a psychiatrist once a week.

    The first one in the US was actually not a bad experience at all. There were a lot of groups and everyone was really friendly. I got playing this one guy at chess and we must've played about 50 times over the course of 10 days. We still email each other.

    The last one was also in the US (although a different state) and there were groups but most related to recovering from alcohol and drug abuse so I avoided those ones. Most people there were there for alcohol and drug detox which was a little strange to have people with mental illnesses with those people but I made a few friends and, other than the prophet, I felt safe. I added one on facebook (before my wife banned me from it )

    It is probably worth mentioning that I only saw someone "kick off" in the NHS hospital. In the US, if you try that, you get sedated and put in restraints - something the NHS doesn't do anymore (the restraints).

    I would say that really ill people will often be on big drug doses and so unable to really kick off - just my experience - so I'd try not to worry too much about the other people there if you do have to go inpatient.


    And again sorry Usy if this is hijacking your thread.
    Ah dw at all bout scaring me - it's just good to hear what it can be like, whether positive or negative :yep:

    :hugs:

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    This is a really inspiring story, thanks for sharing.
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    (Original post by atomickitten)
    slightly unrelated- I imagine medicine is a stressful course.How do you cope with the pressure-I sometimes get stressed on my course
    For me, taking breaks and time to myself for a bit is massively important. Sure, I did sometimes end up feeling a bit guilty for not working when I felt like I should have been but taking time out like that really did help me. I bought myself a few treats from now and then (as in, food wise ) to keep myself motivated and if I was feeling down, I'd go out for a walk somewhere in London. The good thing about being in London is that there is quite a bit to do there so I'd go to some of the famous places and just sit down there for a bit, before going back and feeling more up to work.

    I also find exercise to be very helpful. I joined the cricket club at Imperial and went to nets every week or so, and I really enjoyed that. I wasn't too good at it but it helped me feel free and get rid of some of the pressure that I felt on my course, and would make me feel more motivated to work whenever I got back.

    Basically, find things you enjoy and don't be afraid to take some time out to have a go at them. I feel resting and pursuing your hobbies are just as important as actually working, in that they help massively with the pressure.
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    (Original post by usycool1)
    I'm seriously beginning to think about a career in psychiatry now.
    This is a really inspiring story, thanks for sharing.

    Can we have a peek at your Mental Health blog? I'm quite interested in mental wellbeing myself. :^_^:
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    (Original post by t s)
    This is a really inspiring story, thanks for sharing!

    Can we have a peek at your Mental Health blog? I'm quite interested in mental wellbeing myself. :^_^:
    Thanks very much. :blush:

    Sure, you can find it here but it's very much a work in progress still: http://thedepressedmedstudent.com/
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    (Original post by bullettheory)
    I'm glad to hear it was beneficial for you sorry about your friends however I think sometimes people can just be unsure of how to react.

    It sounds like you got to go to a good hospital. I went to a private hospital once and it was much better than the NHS, there is nothing to do in the NHS you are just left to see the dr once a week. I was in a ward and we had a lot of aggressive people. A guaranteed assault everyday and countless altercations. I had a patient come into my room at night and start shouting at me and threatening to beat the **** out of me ... However there were a lot of very unwell people on that ward. I'm glad you had a good experience, it is good to hear the other side! * * Posted from TSR Mobile
    Thanks Yeah, you're right, I'm sure they've always had my best interests at heart and for that I can't fault them at all :nah:

    Thanks for sharing your experience too, I'm sorry that you had to put up with some stuff like that. I don't know much about how inpatients work in the NHS (I've only used their outpatient services) so I'm curious about some of it, if you don't mind.

    You mentioned that there is nothing to do in NHS hospitals - so is it fair to say that privately, they focus more on helping you improve back to your feet whereas in the NHS, it's more focussed on just keeping you safe place until that risk to you is gone? *
    You sound like you have quite a bit of insight into these odd experiences you were having. How quickly did you get that insight back and did you take medication to help?
    As in, how long it took for my state of mind to improve or...?
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    (Original post by Twinpeaks)
    Thanks for answering

    Gosh, that's so eye opening, I really feel for what you went through, it must have been awful. :hugs:

    But what is so clear to see though, is that you are an amazingly strong individual. Hell, I and many others would not be able to cope with studying medicine in the best of mental health, and here you are storming through despite all you've been through. You were in a psychiatric hospital, and still you discharged yourself in order to get your exams done within the next few days.

    That is simply commendable, I hope you are proud of yourself. I have no doubt you are going to have a full, enriched future. What's more is you sound like a really decent person, and have a lot of respect for your friends I take it from your other posts. I know it really must not have helped, not having any visitors during your stay, but I think a lot of people just really aren't sure how best to respond in such situations. They may have worried that you would not have wanted them to see you there.

    Best of luck with everything, like I say, I have no doubt you'd pull through all this. The thing with mental illnesses such a depression, is that it seems impossible to imagine that you'd feel better, that you'd get over it and be as you were before. But people do, all the time. With some of us, depression is just like a physical illness, it passes through us, we get through it and then it's just a painful memory but nothing more. I see absolutely no reason why that can't be you.
    Thank you so much for the kind words - it means a lot. *

    (Original post by Sabertooth)
    Sorry if I scared you.

    I've been in 3 different hospitals and they were all so different to each other. I felt kind of anxious about the other patients in the NHS one - I had difficulty understanding this huge guy and so tried to avoid him. There was nothing to do except stare at a tv with no sound and seeing a psychiatrist once a week.

    The first one in the US was actually not a bad experience at all. There were a lot of groups and everyone was really friendly. I got playing this one guy at chess and we must've played about 50 times over the course of 10 days. We still email each other.

    The last one was also in the US (although a different state) and there were groups but most related to recovering from alcohol and drug abuse so I avoided those ones. Most people there were there for alcohol and drug detox which was a little strange to have people with mental illnesses with those people but I made a few friends and, other than the prophet, I felt safe. I added one on facebook (before my wife banned me from it )

    It is probably worth mentioning that I only saw someone "kick off" in the NHS hospital. In the US, if you try that, you get sedated and put in restraints - something the NHS doesn't do anymore (the restraints).

    I would say that really ill people will often be on big drug doses and so unable to really kick off - just my experience - so I'd try not to worry too much about the other people there if you do have to go inpatient.


    And again sorry Usy if this is hijacking your thread.
    Nothing to apologise about - answer away too if you feel like it. The more perspectives here we can get, the better it'll be in spreading information
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    (Original post by Wotcher)
    Considering a long view, how do you think your experience as a patient (not specifically a mental health service user) might inform your future role as a practitioner?
    Interesting question. I think that in my time as a patient, I have learnt a lot more about what sorts of things I feel are important to patients compared to some of the rubbishy modules I had to do in my first year of Med School looking at similar things. Admittedly, I'm only first year going into second so perhaps it's unfair of me to say that, given how I've only had a very limited exposure to clinical stuff from the other side.

    The first thing I've learnt is to really be appreciative of all the other Medical Staff and not just the doctors. In particular, most of the nurses were absolutely brilliant and it really showed my just how underappreciated they are within healthcare (I'm sure moonkatt will be pleased to hear that ). As a matter of fact, it was the nurses who I saw more than the doctors throughout this and the way in which they treated me and others were amazing - they had to deal with a lot of abuse, deal with my sadness, help a lot of others and so on. At Medical School interviews, a question we're taught to answer is "Why Medicine - why not nursing?" and we're always told to start off by appreciating the role of he nurse. I think that it's hard to fully appreciate that role unless you've actually been treated by them though (well, for us in pre-clinical anyway - I can't speak for clinical). I hope that this extra appreciation *I now have for other healthcare professionals will prove to be useful for me as a doctor.

    I've also had some slightly negative experiences too from a small minority of professionals, so I've learnt what not to do as well. For example, once when I ended up in A&E, there was this nurse who was being very confrontational towards me and how I was feeling. "You're a Medial Student, you should know better. Things will only get worse - you're only in first year right now - are you sure Medicine is for you?" and stuff like that. It sounds obvious, but trying to make your patients feel bad like that is obviously not helpful and having experienced it now, it's something that I'm going to try to avoid.

    In terms of the good experiences, small things just like saying my name when talking to me or making eye contact and showing that I was really being listened to was very helpful. It made it more personal and like I was being treated as a person rather than just a patient occupying a bed, and I do feel that helped me recovery.*

    As a disclaimer though, I have very limited clinical experience right now. How much of this I'll actually stick to when I find out the real demands in a clinical setting remains to be seen - I'm still just a medical student in the naïve stages.
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    (Original post by usycool1)
    Thanks Yeah, you're right, I'm sure they've always had my best interests at heart and for that I can't fault them at all :nah:

    Thanks for sharing your experience too, I'm sorry that you had to put up with some stuff like that. I don't know much about how inpatients work in the NHS (I've only used their outpatient services) so I'm curious about some of it, if you don't mind.

    You mentioned that there is nothing to do in NHS hospitals - so is it fair to say that privately, they focus more on helping you improve back to your feet whereas in the NHS, it's more focussed on just keeping you safe place until that risk to you is gone? *

    As in, how long it took for my state of mind to improve or...?
    I think that the staff in the NHS would like to be able to offer therapy, regular med reviews, intensive support, OT activities and so on that the private sector can provide, however there just isn't enough money. They do try to provide the activities but they never have enough staff to do it.

    There is also an immense bed pressure which means they can discharge early. At the daily bed manager meetings, the staff are asked to identify the least unwell patient who wasn't due to be discharged, but who could be discharged to free up a bed space for a more unwell patient. There are hardly enough spaces for those who are detained, yet alone those who are informal. All of this combined mean that the NHS discharge once your risk can be managed in the community. I know of patients who have been discharged who are still suicidal. There is also a much higher threshold for admission than privately when it's just a case of if you can pay, then you can stay.

    The priory charge around £1000 a night per bed. I seem to remember that a NHS hospital is around £500-600 depending on the type of hospital. That extra goes a long way.

    I meant like you said you had some psychotic experiences. Did you know at the time it was psychosis or did you lose insight? Did they give medication to help with that or was it just time?


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