The summer I was sectioned twice

2
332

The summer of 2022 was quite a summer for me. I was detained not once, but twice under the Mental Health Act. Not only was I detained, but I was put into wards called ‘Psychiatric Intensive Care Units’ designed for the very, very ‘mentally ill’. This all happened very publicly, in front of my neighbours and community and also on social media where I tried to use the opportunity to demonstrate how subjective involuntary detention is and how poorly those diagnosed with psychosis are treated.

The first time I was detained in July, I was sent to Bangor, a good 40 miles from my home in Prestatyn. I was put into Taliesen ward. I straddle two worlds in that I sit on North Wales Community Health Council and also on our health board’s Mental Health Crisis Care Steering Group. When I was detained, I emailed the membership of this to say unfortunately I couldn’t attend as I had been sectioned. The majority of them hadn’t actually known I was a mad person myself so may have been shocked to hear this. I only heard back from one of the 30 plus members, the majority of whom are senior managers planning and overseeing our mental health services in North Wales. The one person who did respond was actually a finance manager and she wished me well and said she hoped I would get better soon. The rest of them remained silent.

Taliesen was an incredible Welsh bard who lived not far from me on the banks of Lake Geirionydd, a place where I have swum and relaxed and found great peace. Taliesen the ward, however, was diabolical. There is a solitary confinement cell in this ward and I was put in there for I am unsure how long. It is a stark, white, tiny room with a fixed bed in the middle and nothing else. I was given a quilt soaked with someone else’s urine. When I handed it to a nurse, she smelt it and threw it back at me and said ‘Don’t give it to me!’ I have no idea why they put me in there. I had been doing lots of art and origami with other patients and protesting little. I raised a tribunal and was accepting of my situation until I would have the opportunity to legally fight my way out.

For some reason, there is no soap or toilet paper in the patient toilets on Taliesen. You have to knock on the staff room door and ask in front of several members of staff for toilet paper every time you go to the toilet. Often you would have to ask for more please in an Oliver Twist fashion because they would only give you one or two sheets. I asked why we had to do this and a nurse would say ‘Patients eat it’. This made no sense to me. It also makes no sense because when I was admitted later that summer to another Psychiatric Intensive Care Unit run by the same health board 80 miles away in Wrexham, toilet paper was plentiful as was soap and there was no need to ask for it. This was demeaning, dehumanising and downright unhygienic.

Throughout this time, friends and relatives tried to contact me. They could not get through. Messages they left were never passed on. My sister tried to visit and they refused to let her in.

I don’t think Taliesen the bard would be very impressed that a ward like that is named after him. There were some wonderful staff on the ward and they made my time there bearable. They were kind, caring and compassionate and I applaud them for working in a terribly broken system. There were also some very abusive staff members. I did go to the tribunal and was told that it could take up to 48 hours to make a decision. It took them 15 minutes to remove my section and discharge me. A woman who was my care coordinator told lies about me in my tribunal and had got basic information about me wrong. It was clear she was lying and ill-informed but I find it gravely concerning that a registered social worker who is being paid to support me and coordinate my care was willing and able to try to sabotage my freedom so readily. I imagine the independent tribunal panel were too.

I returned home and tried to process what had happened. It was not all bad, as is always the case for me, I make dear friends with other patients in psychiatric units and had done in Bangor; bonds that will remain. I still have two very dear friends from an admission 15 years ago. I settled back only to have a psychiatrist appear at my side gate while I was hanging out my washing. I couldn’t believe my eyes. Most people cannot get to even see a psychiatrist and here was one hovering around in a suit on my street in Prestatyn! He had two people with him, and it was obvious what he was attempting to do – to section me. I asked him to leave my property. He did this time but it frightened me.

I tried to recover from the trauma of it all. When you are sectioned, you often only have the clothes you stand up in unless you are lucky enough to have a friend or relative bring you things. It is an incredibly disturbing and dehumanising process. I was trying to digest what had happened.

Then as I was settling back into a relatively normal life, with the Home Treatment Team coming every day and helping me with nothing, apart from judging me, it happened. I was sectioned yet again. This time, I was put in the 136 suite of my local psychiatric unit. I was physically assaulted by a nurse and a healthcare assistant. I had pressed ‘Record’ on my iPad and I have an audio recording of this happening. It was brutal. The nurse detained me under sections 52 and 54 of the Mental Health Act and then they then shunted me eastward, this time to Wrexham. Again, 40 miles from my home.

I was put in Tryweryn ward, named after the Welsh village that was drowned to provide water to Liverpool. The building itself was beautiful and luxurious. It looked like a ship with portholes and a big spacious communal area. A nurse told me that during Covid, they had dementia patients in there and they thought they were on a cruise, and staff had indulged this idea and it had made them feel happier and more at peace. We all had our own ensuite rooms. There was still the issue of plastic mattresses and horribly thin blankets but this was luxury compared to tiny, confined Taliesen.

This time, they had placed me on Section 3, which meant I could wait a lot longer for the tribunal and could be detained for longer too. I made friends and the ward had its own art room which was bliss! I spent hours and hours sorting and organising it all and then I did art all day every day. I set up a station in the communal area and got as many of the other patients involved as I could. Okay, I did not have my liberty and had little clue as to when I would have and I was being forcibly drugged against my will, but I could choose to make the best of it. There was also an incredible Occupational Therapist who did such an amazing range of activities with us such as making crepes, breakfast baps, mural painting, tie-dye T-shirts, badminton, football, boxing and more. How sad it is that people in North West Wales don’t get any of this.

After 3 weeks, something miraculous happened. After being on holiday for 3 weeks, the ward psychiatrist returned. I had an assessment with him. I had an advocate there, a very good and compassionate nurse and a psychiatry student from Cardiff University, 5 of us in total. The psychiatrist asked me questions that no psychiatrist had ever asked me before. He asked me about what traumas had befallen me, what kind of childhood I had had, my career and my viewpoint on things. He listened. I said to him ‘We have been here ages, people must be bored by now!’ He said straight away ‘If anybody is bored, they can leave the room’ and we carried on.

At the end of this session, which was so therapeutic because I was listened to and heard, he said ‘I am discharging you immediately’ and I returned home.

As you can imagine, all of this is enough to drive anyone mad,  but I was just so relieved to have my freedom. I was also very impressed that there are some good psychiatrists in the system. He could have behaved like the others and I would still be there now. I could have been detained for years as some of my friends have and are now. I feel deeply fortunate to have my liberty.

Prestatyn is a small town and this has been very public. I am not ashamed at all. I have lost friends and been snubbed by people who just do not understand and have been brainwashed by the idea that those with ‘psychosis’ are dangerous and to be avoided. However, I have been cared for and supported by many incredible people. It has really shown me who my friends are and made me grateful for their unconditional love and acceptance. I also go to a gym and it is full of incredible people who know what has happened and have not judged me. Instead, they have supported me in every way to thrive and recover. I am ten minutes from the sea and spending time on the beach, walking, meditating and relaxing has also helped me enormously too to find a way out of this traumatic mess.

I feel hopeful for the future. I am involved in many different ways to improve things. I am working as a lived experience advisor for the British Psychological Society and Mind on different projects and I have just put in a bid to do some art workshops in the community with those who are using psychiatric services, to glean their views on a better system.

It is a lot to recover from but I know I will get there and I will use these experiences as a vehicle for positive change.

 

SHARE
Previous articleNew app aims to predict whether people with psychosis are worth hiring
Next articleNo, one in five children do not have a ‘mental disorder’
My name is Carina Edwards. I live in stunning North Wales. I have an MA in Arts Health and Wellbeing. I have been sectioned and detained under the Mental Health Act 4 times due to what is labelled in psychiatry as psychosis. I have also survived breast cancer twice. I am absolutely passionate about improving society’s understanding and treatment of ‘psychosis’, a label that is so poorly understood and even more poorly treated by mental health services and society.

2 COMMENTS

  1. Hello. Thank you so much for sharing your experiences too. What you have been through sounds horrendous. I am so sorry to hear that you have experienced so much distress and trauma. I hope you can recover in some way and that you can find some peace in spite of very poor treatment and what you experienced as a child. Sending lots of healing thoughts to you.

  2. Hi, I too have been sectioned twice this year. Once in March until May at the Redwoods Center in Shrewsbury 40 miles from my home where i was sectioned without even seeing a psychiatrist let alone any team and i was placed on medication again. Like you i found there was no soap and I contracted Covic and was sentenced to isolation in my room.

    When i did eventually see a psychiatrist i explained i had been reverting back to my childhood as i was writing my autobiography and found out things that were rather disturbing. His response was why go back to your childhood after all of this time?

    Why not? I told him i found out my date of birth on my birth certificate was wrong and this made me question were my parents really mine and where did i come from. I had a flashback of child sexual abuse. All of this he seemed to think was irrelevent to my current break down.

    these are doctors who play around with peoples emotions and suffocate them and disabilitate them with toxic medications. They have freedom by law to not only maim thier patients but to deny them their freedom on the grounds they become a risk.

    I am no risk.

    That first time in March i was medication free and started the process of withdrawing with no detox program available and i have heard it said that withdrawing off psychiatric drugs is worse then withdrawing off heroine.

    Any person who locks someone in a sparse room and offers them urinated bedding knows that this is abuse. You excuse nurses and doctors of not knowing the difference. They know when they pin you down and inject you how distressing this is. They know when people show signs of tardyve disconesia that this is brain damage.

    If you asked the majority of the general public is this a way to treat people who have had child sexual and physcal abuse who break down as adults thent he general public knowing right from wrong would all agree that this is not.

    I too encountred good nurses but they were blind. I tried talking to them about my childhood sexual abuse and they remained blank and distant. They are not trained to deal with this.

    Psyciatrists the biggest criminals that ever existed on earth have wiped out generations if child sexual abuse and have drugged people into obllivion criminalising and destroying millioins of innocnet lives.

    You could say after being involved with the psychiatric system for 47 years i now am anti psychiatry.

    Psychiatrists and their minions will continue to benefit the drugs industry and destroy innocent people.

    For every compassionate nurse and doctor there are millions who aren’t.

    The system is not only broken it is by a force to be reckoned with distructive and evil!