This is my first ‘true to life’ post about being a young person in a CAMHS psychiatric hospital. These are actual extracts from my diary, with only grammar corrections and removal of names. I hope you find it insightful to read my journey to recovery.
TRIGGER WARNING – Because this is at the very start of my admission, this post may be upsetting to some readers. It contains some mention of self-harm, suicidal thoughts and restraints.
I had zero sleep last night due to being worried that I would be sent to a hospital really far away from home. The Doctor said it was a possibility and I would be very lucky to get a ‘in area’ bed. I looked up all the hospitals in ‘my area’ and even ‘in area’ could be anywhere in the East Midlands. It made me feel pretty shit. I don’t want to be alone.
Luckily, NHS England notified the ward that there was a bed at the local unit, which meant a) not going to one of the shitty hospitals I had seen on the CAMHS bed map, and b) I’m going to be close enough to home to be visited.
The day involved a lot of waiting around for the unit to be ready, and a lot of tears. I’m not sure if I want to do this, but I don’t have much choice.
I got to the ward mid-afternoon and had to wait in a locked waiting room for ages before being seen by a mental health Nurse and the consultant whom asked me lots and lots of questions. I was really awkward and anxious and I couldn’t stop scratching my face. They then made Mum leave and I had to have all my physical observations done.
As I was walked down to the clinic room, I saw another patient going into the bathroom with a member of staff. The psychiatrist introduced me to her, but she didn’t say anything. She explained that this patient was on 1:1, but I would be on 10 minute observations for now.
Most of the patients are younger than me, but I’m not the oldest. There are a few of us who are 17, but most are around the 15/16 mark. The youngest is 13.
Dinner was really lonely and difficult. I feel like I’m a fake and I shouldn’t be here. It’s been really hard and I’m still so, so scared. I can’t stop banging my head everywhere, it’s getting really bad, and it’s so hard to get to sleep.
Everything I write now is completely affected by the fact that my head is pulsing like mad due to banging it so many times.
I was woken up at 8 and had to be at breakfast for 8:30. Quite a number of patients have eating disorders so were finding eating difficult, but others were refusing to drink even water.
I wasn’t allowed to go to school today so I stayed in the lounge with staff and watched a movie. I had a chocolate milkshake for ‘mids’, which is mid-morning snack time.
An incident happened this morning with another patient, but we don’t see anything (I’m glad) because all the doors automatically shut when the ‘pins’ (the alarms) go off. Another patient reassured me that it was OK and that it’s usually over with quickly.
This afternoon I’ve been doing a bit of schoolwork, but I had to go and see the advocate and talked to her about pressure from school. There are voices inside my head telling me to hurt myself and it is really hard. I have an absolutely terrible headache.
A patient was discharged today, and another was provisionally discharged on a community treatment order. We had group DBT which was alright, but slightly condescending for those of us who are a bit older.
I have reached a proper low tonight and eventually was calmed down by a Nurse. I did some word searches with a HCA and now I am going to brush my teeth and hopefully go to sleep. I am scared and sad and my head wrecks. It’s very, very tricky in here.
Today I woke up feeling sweaty and disgusting. I have 0 motivation to shower. A HCA caught me head banging so I think she might be concerned, but nobody else has said anything, despite the fact that my face is completely bruised.
I met the Occupational Therapist this morning, and she asked me questions about what I liked doing with my spare time and stuff, which seems a bit silly considering where I am now.
I’m still not allowed down to the school, so this afternoon I went into the Art Room with another patient and some staff, and I made a glittery new sign for my door. Two patients have gone on weekend leave today, and someone else has been discharged, which I thought was surprising because they seemed quite unwell.
Afternoon snack was horrible because a health care assistant was pouring random amounts of milk which was really upsetting people, and other patients still aren’t drinking. I have now swapped rooms with a patient on 1:1 so that she can have her own room, and I am now sharing with someone.
Mum and Dad came to see me today but I was really grumpy because I’m tired and my head hurts like hell. After they left, another HCA did some word searches with me and I did a relaxation session with a counselling volunteer.
I feel like I have to hurt myself and my suicidal thoughts are quite suffocating tonight. I’ve been pacing up and down the room, banging my head and scratching my face trying to get it to go away. I don’t know what I want.
I had an alright night of sleep last night, but a HCA caught me self-harming again, so I think they’re suspicious and that worries me.
Before mids I was really struggling with my head telling me that it had to be every twenty minutes, which was pretty demanding. But shit. Staff have noticed my black eye (which pretty much makes me look like I’ve been beaten up) so I’ve been put on 1:1 which is really, really shit. I now have no privacy and I feel completely crazy.
Before Mum and Dad’s visit, staff had to calm me down and stop me from self-harming but luckily I was able to control it.
Mum said that my friends might be able to come and see me at some point, but I didn’t like talking about school. I don’t even know what my Y13 timetable is. I’m just trying not to think about the consequences of missing so much.
I want to hit my head against a wall. I want to cut. I want to sleep. I want to have a wee but I’m reducing my water intake because I’m on OBs.
A Doctor looked at my head and although she said that I seemed alright, she told me about the complications of doing it (brain damage) and it has just scared me even more because now there’s two different things telling me what to do.
I managed to get to sleep OK last night. It was really warm, so I opened my window, much to the annoyance of staff sat on my observations.
I woke up on time but had to wait for a female member of staff to come onto my OBs so that I could get changed. Breakfast wasn’t so good, I almost immediately got taken out and had to be calmed down.
For the rest of the day I sat colouring and watching the music channel. Mind numbing stuff. I have my own room again now, but I feel awful because I had to swap with another patient and she really wanted her own room.
When Mum and Dad came I was allowed on Facebook and it was kinda upsetting because nobody had messaged me. I am really worrying about school.
Today has been a really tricky day and I am feeling overwhelmed and pretty hopeless because I don’t want to be so messed up anymore, but I can’t get it out. I just have to live with it and the consequences.
I slept with the duvet on last night despite it being really hot, because someone was watching me on my OBs all night. This meant that I woke up really sweaty, so I dragged myself into the shower which was pretty humiliating with staff watching. It wasn’t actually that bad, I just turned the other way.
After breakfast I was feeling really low so I was taken into the art room, which is my favourite place on the unit. There’s a really, really nice Frozen painting in there that someone did. We then had a ‘care plan group’ in which we had to write down our goals for the week, and how my week has been. I wrote down loads and I actually liked the activity because I’m so much better at expressing myself when I write.
Then I had a meeting with the advocate in order to prepare for my CPA. She’s really nice but she didn’t listen to me all that well. At the CPA there was myself, Mum, the advocate, a secretary, my outpatient worker, a student nurse and the occupational therapist. They told me that my behaviour is unsustainable and that I should be gradually taken off high OBs when I’m ready, and that my next CPA is in 4 weeks time.
However, after mids shit really started going down. The voices in my head were so loud that as soon as my OBs turned away, I was off. Before I knew it, people were on me and the alarms were ringing and they took me (in a not very dignified way), to the low stimulus area. They had to calm me down with a lorazepam injection, which was not fun and made me feel really embarrassed because there were men in there.
When I went back into the lounge after calming down, everyone stared at me but I just went back to colouring, and then Mum came to visit. I’m sad because my sister isn’t allowed to visit me because she’s under 16.
My face is looking better today. It’s ward round day, so there was no school this morning. I’ve been colouring but it’s becoming so stressful because I keep forgetting what page I’m on. It’s the same with my reading books. I’ve been told I’m not allowed to do any schoolwork for now. I’m trying to think positively. It’s not the end of the world. I wrote down a list of stuff I need to do for school anyway and it really calmed me down.
I had ward round this morning with the consultant. She thinks that I have OCD but my community team have never mentioned this before so it’s confusing. She is also having me assessed for a section in order to be kept safe. This made me really angry and upset, and caused a whole round of incidents and having to be calmed down and reassured.
I had a chat with a nurse after dinner, and we talked about self-harm but also about school and anxiety. She made me feel like I’m not a fake and I do deserve to let myself get better. I also saw my Mum and rang my brother, who pretended that he didn’t know who ‘Rosie’ was which was strange. Mum just says he’s dealing with things in his own way.
I am really distressed because incidents are kicking off all over the place with other patients and just the sound of the alarm is escalating my thoughts.
Last night did not go well. I was sat in the lounge struggling so badly, when I overheard staff talking about other patient’s self-harm. There were incidents kicking off between two other patients for ages and I feel really guilty in case I had triggered them.
I started crying and crying and was taken to my room with 2 members of staff for a chat, but shit went down and I lost it and I had to be restrained, taken to the LSA and given lorazepam again.
After breakfast this morning I did more word searches, coloured and watched the music channel. I was feeling pretty shit because I knew I was about to have my assessment. The assessment was with the consultant, another psychiatrist and a social worker/mental health specialist. They asked me about the overdose, how I’ve been feeling over the past few days, about suicidal feelings, and self-harm.
After the assessment I had to see a general health Doctor to look at my head and eyes, and my outpatient worker who just wanted to know how I was. She said that when I’m a bit better she’ll be able to take me out on leave for a drink or something.
They then came back and told me that I was now under a section, which has really annoyed me because I was really honest with them. I’ve been kicking off and having to be calmed down non-stop after that. I just feel like well whatever, they didn’t listen. I just don’t want to be here anymore.
My best friend came to visit me this evening, but she got really upset because of how unwell I look. I then had to see another Doctor who looked into my eyes and basically said there was no damage, yet.
My bed has been moved into the middle of the room, and I have to sleep with my arms out of the bed which is really annoying. I feel so stuck and hopeless and I don’t know what’s going to happen, but I feel like I’m not even me anymore.
This is the end of my first week in a psychiatric unit. I was placed on 1:1 and sectioned. This was the hardest time of my life, and I’m happy to say that things would get so much better than this.