Treated like an animal

24 Mar

Project Nim 2

Today I shared some of my experiences of forced medication, restraint and seclusion from my recent (2011) stay on a psychiatric ward. Hopefully it will be my only stay on a psychiatric ward, because, as you’ll see from these tweets (see the links below), it wasn’t a healing experience. In fact, I’m undergoing treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of my hospital stay.

The photo above is taken from the documentary, Project Nim, that prompted me to start tweeting this morning. Nim Chimpsky was a chimpanzee taught to sign then sold for medical research. When I watch documentaries with captive animals, it reminds me how ward staff treated me like a creature to be observed, not a person. That’s what happened this morning.

I was tweeting a flood of consciousness, as the images came to my mind. I was sharing what was, for me, a very powerful experience. Holding those images in my mind, tweeting about them, wasn’t easy. I’d never tweeted in that much detail before. I felt sick when I sent these tweets. Bringing back these memories brought back some of the trauma. I was shaking. I was crying. It took me over an hour to send the first tweets.

I wasn’t engaging in a light hearted conversation, garnering opinions, having a chit chat. I wasn’t looking for banter and interaction. I just kept tweeting through the tears.

When I’d finished, I went back and checked the responses of others. I’ve included those in the Storify story as the voices of so many tweeps both mirror and challenge some of my experiences. There isn’t much interaction, because I was too upset.

At the end of the Storify story are comments from two tweeps who say they are psychiatric nurses (I don’t know them). Their comments, sadly, demonstrate one of the reasons my stay on psychiatric ward was so horrible: lack of empathy, lack of understanding and lack of compassion from ward staff. It was a reminder that, for some psychiatric staff, people’s emotional distress is just a day job.

I know there are more compassionate psychiatric staff out there, because I have seen excellent psychiatric care in practice. I’ve just not received it myself.

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9 Responses to “Treated like an animal”

  1. Lucy 25 March 2013 at 12:38 pm #

    Thank you for sharing your experiences. I think it takes a lot of courage to write about something that was so painful and to keep writing through your tears. I could relate so much to what you had experienced and it’s so sad. Many hugs for you. x

  2. T P Properties (@TPPropertiesUK) 25 March 2013 at 1:32 pm #

    We echo the comments of Lucy above. Would love to sign up to this blog…but need a little guidance…can you help? We continue like you to try and make a difference, but the road is long, with lots of bends and detours. But together one day we know we’ll be heard. Thank you for your bravery, courage and inspiration. We’ll continue to walk down the road renewed.

  3. Anon x 25 March 2013 at 11:13 pm #

    I’m a student mental health nurse and I’ve heard so many stories like yours from friends and family, that led me to take the path I did. I absolutely won’t let this happen on my watch. Thank you for sharing your experience and on behalf of those shockingly bad nurses, I’m so very sorry xxxxxxxxx

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Restraint | Sectioned - 19 June 2013

    […] too traumatic for me to write about again. However, if you want to know more, read this blog, Treated Like an Animal, where I describe one incidence of face down restraint step by […]

  2. Hospital inspections and dashed hopes | Sectioned - 14 March 2014

    […] Treated like an animal (March 2013) […]

  3. Forced medication: resistance is futile | Sectioned - 19 March 2014

    […] Treated like an animal (March 2013) […]

  4. Secrets from the modern day asylum | Sectioned - 27 August 2014

    […] me (in the criminal sense) and many more who physically restrained me, six at a time, for forced treatment and by patients from whom the staff did not protect me. Based on my experience of modern day […]

  5. Do you remember your first time? | Sectioned - 16 November 2014

    […] Treated like an animal – My first blog post on forced treatment (March 2013) […]

  6. Use of force on psychiatric patients – 3 recommendations for starting to reduce the harms it causes | Sectioned - 22 October 2015

    […] Treated like an animal […]

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