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.
- My Storify story – Treated like an animal
- My Storify story – Treated like an animal – some responses – comments on the story from the lovely twitter people
- Project Nim (documentary on BBC TV)
- Will chimps soon have human rights? – Guardian newspaper by Emine Saner, 4th December 2013