Photo: Tuan Thai Photography
I was recently hospitalised down in the psychiatric ward. Again. This isn't a secret guide or anything like that if you're purely interested in how "getting out" of the Psychiatric Ward, it's just my experience and each case and person is different from each other. I just want to give a few points on how I made it out of the psychiatric ward without taking no medications at all.
I was suffering from short-term memory loss (I lost my wallet twice this year), hair loss, shakiness in hands, and daily constipation from the medications I was taking for the past 6 years or so.
If you're not aware, the psychiatric ward is a really different place. I have met some of the most fascinating people (patients-wise) yet "scary" as well. In my last admission, I was wrongly accused of stealing of another patients' pants/leggings and I was shocked to hear that same very day that my roommate was told by that patient who accused me to steal my pants at night time when I am sleeping. This shook and scared me, I thought the patient/s were playing psychological games with me. I did the right thing straight away and told the nurse and the nurse in charge about what had happened. I don't argue with patients, I am polite to them but distrust them in most ways I would like to add.
Anyway I didn't take my/any prescribed medications when I was in the ward. I had the right to refuse as I was a voluntary patient mainly. I know the nurses loved and respected me as a patient, I would help the Bed Warden with some tasks such as making beds for new admissions for example. They know I was kind, respectful and wouldn't hurt anyone. But the doctors and nurses would still prescribe and administer me medications whenever I told them I was "anxious" and not "calm".
I remember in my first admission I would learn to say things the doctors and nurses wanted to hear, take the medications they prescribed no matter informed I thought I was in taking the medications I was prescribed. But this time, I wanted to do things differently and Suzanne's way...of what I think is best for my body, and of course being aware of what the doctors and nurses tell me about medications and taking care of myself at the back of my mind. I am a grown adult, I have a lot of support from family and friends and sometimes it feels I am treated like a child in there (especially in the first few admissions).
So I decided to stop my medications cold turkey and I was discharged earlier this week. I am able to sleep better, I don't feel sedated when I take the night medications as I also love to burn the midnight oil and work at night on things I'm passionate about in life. I study full-time, and work as well. I have been able to maintain employment longer than I used to.
Just saying people don't realise how highly functional I am as a "mentally ill" person.
This time during the admission, my room was the cleaniest (so I was told by the nurses) out of all the mental health patients in the ward, I dressed well enough that people told me I looked like a doctor or/and nurse. It was quite hilarious actually.
Mental Health Resources
3847 1058 A wonderful community mental health club house which supports all different kinds of mental health support. There are scheduled activities every day for each month - wide range of different activities include yoga, bush walking, and many more. I became a member, and worked a few times in the hospitality unit. I wasn't expected to do everything "fast" and "right". I could go at my own pace, and volunteer for as long or short as I can. I love that I am not rushed. This is why Stepping Stones is so supportive for those in mental health recovery. I always felt welcomed by all the other members too. It's just a very good environment to be in.
1800 737 732 24/7 National Sexual Assault, Domestic Family Violence & Counselling Service. I have called this service several times for the rape trauma I faced in the past. This is a very wonderful service, and although I have only used the telephone counselling service several times, the qualified professionals were always very compassionate and helpful. It helps to have a pen and notebook ready before calling, as they tend to give good, practical tips on how to manage the problem you're having at the time. Highly recommend this service.
13 11 14 Lifeline - Available 24/7. I noticed the times I was in distress and called, the calls were confined to a maximum of half an hour or so. It's good to know someone who can listen. This is a free dial call, and treated with full confidentiality. You don't need to mention your name, but depending on the circumstances, they may ask where your location is. I found this service to always be extremely helpful. The telephone volunteers are fully trained, and know what they are doing.
Acute Care Team (24hr QLD Mental Health Support)
1300 642 255 (also known as 1300 MH CALL) - I use this service as an existing patient with the PAH Mental Health teams as I was an in-patient at the hospital. You have the option to speak with a Mental Health Clinician. I found the clinicians generally helpful. I have a long history with the hospital, and they can easily bring up my file - as long as I say who I am. Sometimes I use this line to check on my future appointments with the team.
Online Forum Support
The online forums is a great initiative by Beyond Blue. The forums are fully moderated, and there are Community Champions (title based on their post count) there but they are real people who have gone through traumatic experiences in their lives, and volunteer their time and help on the forums. There are different sections for different topics around mental health such as; Depression, Relationships. There's also a forum for Young People to share, which I'm interested in. If you first stumble upon the forums, I recommend you not to read everything, as it can be easy to get caught up in it all (or maybe just me personally); but start off reading the guides, especially sticky threads to get a feel of that particular section.