Someone found my blog today by searching “how to get out of the restraint that psychiatric wards use”. That lead to these tweets on my experience of forced medication on a psychiatric ward (set out below, slightly edited).
I discovered that nothing I did or said made any difference to the use of restraint on me: they were going to carry on and do it, no matter what. It made no difference to them what I said or did. All I could do was try to make a difference to me.
Someone found my blog today by searching “how to get out of the restraint that psychiatric wards use”. Yeah, no chance there: it’s six to one. I discovered that nothing I did or said made any difference to the use of restraint on me: they were going to carry on and do it, no matter what.
In my experience of restraint, once there’s a tick on the chart saying “forced medication”, it’s going to be done to you, no matter what. Once there’s a tick in the box saying “forced medication”, it doesn’t matter where you are or what you’re doing, you’re getting it.
It made no difference that I’d never been asked whether I’d like pills or an injection. The forced med squad just turned up and did it to me. It made no difference that I’d never been asked which drug I’d prefer to take. They just climbed on top, pinned me down and stuck it in me. It made no difference that I’d never had a discussion about symptoms or potential diagnoses or treatments. They just carried out orders.
It made no difference that I was sitting on my bed, reading quietly, minding my own business. They’d turn up mob-handed & do their business. It made no difference that I’d stepped out of a meeting with the IMHA to get a letter from my bedroom she’d asked to see. They came in as I sat on the floor, document wallet in hand, surrounded by papers. They did it to me there, then walked off chatting, leaving me to wander back to the IMHA, disheveled and dazed.
It made no difference when I pleaded with them to explain what they were doing, what was in the syringe (or syringes – it varied), what effect it would have on me. None. It made no difference when I talked calmly to them, speaking to each by name, asking them to explain why they were injecting me. None. It made no difference when I repeatedly called out a friend’s name, calling to mind someone who cared for me, who heard my words. None.
It made no difference whether it was night or day. They could turn up any time, stick it in me, roll off, leave me lying in dirty sheets. It made no difference when (realising nurses wouldn’t speak to me) I wrote notes and handed them to the nurses. The notes asked the nurses to explain what drugs they were injecting, what the effects were, what they were for and what the plan was going forwards. No response. They just handed each note back to me later, unopened.
It even made no difference when I was first in the drugs queue so I could take the pills instead: they still came for me again. I had a double dose that day.
The staff weren’t monsters. Far from it. They’d chat away to each other, coordinating between themselves who was going to take which limb; who was doing what when; and then when to let go as one.
They’d chat away to each other as if the person beneath them was not a person who spoke their language but a wild and senseless beast. They’d leave behind a bed pushed out from the wall, sheets trampled under their boots, empty swab wrappers on the floor, lumps and bruises on my arms and legs. They’d leave behind a person who didn’t know what had just been done to them, or why, or when it would happen again, or how to make it stop.
I learned that, when they come for you, there is no escape. You are locked in and cornered. It is going to happen. It makes no difference what you say or do.
I learned that, when they come for you, there is no escape. You are locked in and cornered. It is going to happen. It makes no difference what you say or do. You can’t reason with people who won’t listen to you. You can’t persuade people who don’t hear you. You can’t resist them when it’s six to one, even if (unlike me) you knew how. You can’t reason with people who are just carrying out orders. You can’t persuade people who don’t think you’re worth asking.
It’s like being in a science fiction novel. Resistance is futile. Your life as it has been is over. Comply, cooperate and engage. Resistance just prolongs the process. The quickest way to get out is to comply, cooperate & engage.
I found that there was nothing I could say or do to stop them using restraint on me. But things I said and did helped me cling on to me. Little things I did and said as they did their business on me helped me to cling to my sense of being a person, a human being not an animal.
It made no difference to them what I said or did. All I could do was try to make a difference to me.
- Earlier blogs:
- Code of Practice to the Mental Health Act – contains provisions about use of restraint of people who are violent or aggressive but rubber stamps its use for forced medication
- Good psychiatric practice – Code of Ethics of the Royal College of Psychiatrist (March 2014)
- My tweets on the topic earlier today – It made no difference to them what I said or did. All I could do was try to make a difference to me – and some responses from the lovely twitter people
- We are the Borg (Star Trek) (video – 50 secs)
- A year as a mental health advocate at South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust (SLaM) – 27 minute video by Jake. He talks about what he saw working at SLaM as an IMHA, including the routine use of forced medication, threats and restraint of people who are not being violent or aggressive (and other topics) (see particulary the first 12 minutes).